WTAJ Originals: Looking back at Bernie Punt’s career

Daily Originals

From Elton John and Billy Joel to Dolly Parton, and Alan Jackson…all have played at the Bryce Jordan Center.

But since it’s beginnings, one man has worked behind the scenes to make every show go on.

After 23 vigorous years serving as the Director of Sales and Marketing at the Bryce Jordan Center (BJC), Bernie Punt feels its time stop and take a deep breath.

As Bernie Punt looks toward retirement, he laughs at all the fun and crazy memories from his career.

Like the time he convinced Garth Brooks’ promoter to give the BJC an extra show after the last one sold out with many more in line.

“I remember being at a local UniMart, store in Bellefonte, on the phone with the promoter…determining how many people were in line, and he was calling all different other ticket outlets, and back then we had still probably 300 or 400 people in line and we already sold out five or six shows,” said Punt. “And these people…. I had to hold up an old phone on a pay phone, and they were gonna scream, ‘he’s not gonna escape alive if there’s not another show added’. I can remember the promoter yelling, ‘we’ll save ya, Bernie, we’ll add another show.'”

“Another highlight was probably Paul McCartney…that was a tough show to get. Here is a surviving Beatle,” said Punt. “There was a couple of us in this building that actually endured a four-hour interview with their management who flew from England and interviewed us…and I guess we passed the audition.”

Punt must have had that magic touch, which he calls confidence, to help get the headliners to Happy Valley.

“It’s easy to bring it to a major market…in order for a show to come to our market,” he said, “you have to really have confidence with the promoters that want to bring the show in…”

And bring in the shows he did.

“I’ve been here with over 15.5 million visitors…over thousands of events in the building…and yes, I am counting, 710 touring events that I was a part of.”

But of all the shows he’s organized, there’s one that he’ll never forget.

“We had a show here in 2006. It was an event…it was the five-year anniversary of 9/11. This was probably my most rewarding event I worked and was a part of…it was called Operation Salute, where we honored 20,000 military and their families and we had the whole community get involved.”

After the years of hard work, thousands of emails a day, and tough negotiations to get acts into town…it was all worth it.

“When the artist walks out on stage and the crowd goes crazy…I will miss that it’s like a drug. It’s that adrenaline and knowing that you were somehow part of that, with these people in the building…that’s what I’ll miss,” he said.

Ironically, Punt’s last day is the anniversary of the BJC’s very first show, a fitting way to say see you later…but not goodbye.

“I’m gonna catch up on my life, I’m gonna catch up on my family, and I’ll still be involved…that’s all I’ll say,” said Punt.

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