Juliet Papa-The Woman Behind the Voice

For any New Yorker, Juliet Papa’s name is a familiar one. As a veteran reporter for 1010 WINS radio (“Give us 22 minutes and we’ll give you the world!”) for over 20 years, her voice may be even more familiar. She’s won numerous Edward R. Murrow and New York Press Club Awards and credits her success, in part, to being a lifelong New Yorker where, from the time she was a child, she’s had the opportunity to meet people from all over. “Every day is an adventure,” she says.

Juliet grew up in the South Bronx near Yankee Stadium. “It was a great time. We had everything there,” she says. “We knew all kinds of people. We played on the streets and were very industrious as kids.” Later on, Juliet’s family made “the great migration” to Queens where she attended St. Agnes Academic High School in College Point. This past June, Juliet was invited back as the Commencement Speaker for the 2010 graduating class.

After High School, Juliet stayed close to home to attend Queens College where she first became involved with college radio. “I was around the other students who were just brilliant and I learned from them,” she says. “They were fantastic.” With her college radio experience, Juliet interned at local New York station WPIX FM with notable DJ Jim Kerr and wrote rock and roll news for the station. “I had to get up and be on the subway by 5:00 AM every day. I had to write on deadline. I had to write creatively. I was around experienced professionals. I learned a lot and I had a good time doing it.”

After college, Juliet worked part time as a cashier (and then bookkeeper) in a local supermarket, a job she’d worked throughout her college years. When she got her first radio job, she kept the supermarket job on the weekends. “In the beginning, I made more money at the supermarket than I did in broadcasting,” she laughs. “But I loved the supermarket job and I was able to buy a car because of it.” Though it wasn’t very glamorous, Juliet learned work skills and people skills in the supermarket. “You needed to be fast, accurate and pleasant. I took those things with me.”

When she began working at 1010 WINS, Juliet covered everything from breaking news (the trials of Martha Stewart, Sean “Diddy” Combs, the “Mafia Cops”) and feature stories to celebrity interviews (Regis Philbin, Derek Jeter, Donald Trump, Joe Torre) and organized crime, which she found fascinating. In 1990, she covered John Gotti’s high profile trial in New York City and had the opportunity to interview several participants including Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, whom she describes as smart, scary, funny and with an intimidating presence. She was so fascinated with “mob culture,” she co-authored (with former undercover cop Douglas Le Vien) The Mafia Handbook, a New York-themed “wiseguy” version of The Preppy Handbook. It was a tongue-in-cheek look at life in the mob but based upon real situations, locations and people. For example, if you were interested in locating a mob Social Club, you could find one by reading the handbook (just don’t attempt to join unless you’re already a “made man!”). You would also find jail-house recipes, mob terminology, job descriptions (including one for a contract killer) and explanations of all the different “whacking” categories (shooting is the best way, it was determined). Years later, she covered the trial of John Gotti, Jr.

In 1995, she penned Lady Killer, based upon the life and history of serial killer Ricardo Caputo whose first victim was a young woman from New York City.

To learn more about broadcasting and visual media, Juliet branched out and freelanced at Channel 2 (WCBS) in New York City, one of the country’s top TV news outlets. She says that experience helped her discover a third dimension of pictures and video and prepared her for the modern world of websites and weblogs.

In 2000, Juliet was inducted into the NYPD Honor Legion for acting as an intermediary in a hostage standoff in the Prison Unit at Kings County Hospital where an inmate had been holding hostages with weapons including a gun and a knife. Because the inmate wanted carte blanche to go live on the air and vent grievances, no media outlet would honor his request and Juliet became the negotiator speaking with the inmate through a small basement level window. She was able to get him to agree to a taping which would then be taken to the radio station. In return, he surrendered the knife, eventually the gun and finally, gave up. The standoff lasted several days. The Legion of Honor Award is an award she holds dear because it’s not often presented outside of the NYPD. “My most prized award,” she says.

With so much experience as a reporter, Juliet had nurtured and amassed a number of trusted sources over time. In 2006, thanks to a tip from one of those sources and with the cooperation of others, Juliet broke the horrifying story about Michael Mastromarino, a disgraced oral surgeon who was charged with illegally harvesting body parts without the consent or knowledge of the families through his association with a funeral home. Hundreds of families, including that of Alistair Cooke, the renowned host of Masterpiece Theater, were involved. Juliet reported the story for 1010 WINS and later authored “The Big Business of Body Parts” for Readers Digest detailing the macabre story. She has been a contributor to Readers Digest since.

Juliet continues to cover news for 1010 WINS which reaches more than three million people a day. She also donates her time to several charities and her voice to the annual Artists and Writers Charity Softball game each year in East Hampton where she participates as announcer for the high-profile event which draws celebrities the likes of Alec Baldwin, Christie Brinkley, Chevy Chase and James Lipton. “I have a front row seat to everything that’s happening in New York on a daily basis,” she says. “I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Tune in to New York 1010 WINS Radio (AM) to listen to Juliet or, for more information, go to www.CBSNewYork.com.

Woman Around Town’s Six Questions
Favorite Place to Eat: Ballato’s (on Houston Street)
Favorite Place to Shop: Any New York City gourmet shop!
Favorite New York Sight: Central Park when the leaves change
Favorite New York Moment: The Ticker Tape Parade when the Yankees won the World Series. Being in the parade route covering it gives a different perspective.
What You Love About New York: There’s always something new to see or do
What You Hate About New York: Quality of life issues never get addressed

1. Left to right: John Montone, Stan Brooks and Juliet Papa, Yankees 27th World Championship, City Hall, November 2009
2. Juliet Papa delivering the commencement speech for the 2010 graduating class at St. Agnes Academic High School, College Point, NY
3. The Mafia Handbook
4. Juliet Papa with John Gotti during his 1990 state trial in Manhattan (Photo: Louis Liotta)
5. Juliet Papa with legendary sports announcer, Bert Sugar, at the 2010 Artists and Writers Charity Softball Game, East Hampton, NY (Photo: Chris London)

About Carol Toscano (7 Articles)
<p>Native New Yorker and lover of all things New York, Carol Toscano is fiction and entertainment writer. She holds a BS in Journalism from St. John’s University and an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School University. Carol’s work on the award-winning Woman Around Town website includes celebrity profiles, art, book and theatre reviews and travel and lifestyle pieces.</p> <p>Carol is a 2010 recipient of the prestigious Reverend Mychal Judge Heart of New York Journalism Award (for work that is most complementary of New York City) from the New York Press Club.</p>