HOLLIDAYSBURG - Sometimes, when Patrick Schurr
boss, state Sen.
We're at a meeting, and people think, 'Why is the media here?'" Schurr
said at his
"And I say, 'Well, I'm not on that side anymore.'"
In November, after 14 years as a reporter and anchor at WTAJ, Schurr
job at the TV station to take up a post as Eichelberger's
Now the local celebrity researches legislation, takes phone calls and sends press releases to reporters - the same people he
once competed with for stories.
Patrick Schurr works as executive assistant to state Sen.
left WTAJ in November after 14 years as a reporter and anchor to take up his
"You get over that quickly," he
"But there's definitely a learning curve to it."
is easily recognizable to anyone who's watched Altoona-area TV news over the last decade.
Arriving at WTAJ as a 23-year-old in 1999 after a stint with a smaller West Virginia station, he
planned to leave for another city until his
2002 promotion to morning anchor.
said he'd planned to rise through the ranks as so many broadcast journalists do: putting in time at small markets before earning a job at a major station.
never imagined he
'd one day leave the field to work in politics, he said.
"Since high school, I just sort of knew that's what I wanted to do.
I took the classes in high school: TV, radio, journalism, straight through college," Schurr
A desirable job at WTAJ and the beginnings of a family kept him in the area far longer than he
'd expected, and he developed a loyal following among viewers.
But last fall, after a management change took Schurr
off the anchor desk and returned him to reporting, "the opportunity sort of presented itself" to work as Eichelberger's
executive aide, he
"I thought he was always somebody that had personal integrity," said Eichelberger, whose wife, reporter Charlotte Ames, worked with Schurr at the station.
posted on his
Facebook page that he
was leaving WTAJ, hundreds of fans replied.
Among the messages were: "We'll miss you"; "It's not going to be the same without you;" "I can't believe that you are gone."
"All of the comments, the posts on Facebook, were very gratifying because the viewers - that was what made the job for me," Schurr
Schurr sometimes accompanies the senator at town hall gatherings and answers calls from concerned constituents, many of whom instantly recognize his name.
It may take a while for voters to recognize him for his
new job, though: Some still ask whether he's
at WTAJ, with a few seeming to think he
simultaneously covers the news and works in politics, Schurr
Trained in broadcast journalism and long planning to spend his
entire career in the field, Schurr
sometimes misses the work since his
unexpected shift to politics.
keeps in touch with his
old coworkers, he
said, and a framed collage of photos and press clippings they made dominates a wall in his
And fans still greet him in public, he
"That's been the hardest part, too, leaving, because I enjoyed that part of the job so much.
So I guess it's a little bittersweet when I still hear comments," he