Campus Radio Station WGSU Celebrating Golden Anniversary

WGSU-FM is celebrating 50 years on the air. In this photo, a group of students were celebrating the station's 20th anniversary in 1983. Front row (left to right): Sandy Ward Bell, class of 1986; John Giacomo, class of 1984; and Mark Getsy, class of 1984. Back row (left to right): Carol Carosa Craig, class of 1985; Craig Harris, class of 1984; Pete Borini, class of 1984; Mike Saffran, class of 1985 and current WGSU faculty adviser; and Rob LeBourdais, class of 1985.

GENESEO, N.Y. - Students who keep SUNY Geneseo's radio station WGSU-FM on the air today might be surprised to learn that their parents likely were not even born -- or were very young -- when the station signed on 50 years ago for the first time.

Since its establishment Feb. 18, 1963, WGSU has served as both a training lab for communication majors and a valuable activity for other students wanting experience sharpening their on-air, management or engineering skills in a genuine broadcast setting. It is the second oldest of the SUNY college stations and among the oldest of all college stations in the state.

To celebrate WGSU's golden anniversary milestone, the college is planning a series of events during the upcoming year to celebrate, focusing primarily on alumni and faculty who were involved with the station throughout the years.

"I appreciate the way WGSU serves numerous goals for our students," said Andrew Herman, associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication. "Certainly, it is a fun environment for students of any major in which lifelong friendships are born. But it also is a great way for many of our majors to bring theory into practice - to make the theories and concepts from our classes come to life as they run a fully-licensed radio station producing music, news and sports. And as a hockey fan, I love being able to listen to the Ice Knights when I can't make it to the game personally."

Numerous WGSU alumni have realized successful careers in radio in cities across the country. Among local radio personalities who worked at WGSU are Chet Walker, a 1978 graduate, and Joe Lomonaco, a 1993 graduate, both on-air personalities at WHAM-AM in Rochester. Chet is morning show host and Joe is evening news host and production director. Tony Infantino, a 1976 graduate, is morning show personality on Rochester's WARM 101.3 FM. Pete Kennedy, a 1983 graduate, is the midday host on Rochester's WDVI-FM. Tom Mitchell, a 1979 graduate, is program director and an on-air personality at 93Q in Syracuse.

Mike Saffran, a 1985 Geneseo graduate, joined SUNY Geneseo in 2012 as a communication lecturer, teaching radio production and mass media management courses as well as advising WGSU, where he was actively involved as station manager as a student.

"I'm thrilled being back at what's truly my ‘first love' of a radio station - and, in Geneseo, a place I love and for which I have such cherished memories," said Saffran. "I've returned not only for my dream job -seemingly, one I've been preparing for my entire adult life - but also for the opportunity to give back."

Saffran, who worked at WGSU from 1981 to 1985 as a student DJ, news director, program director and station manager, looks forward to reaching out to fellow WGSU alumni - helping them to reconnect or stay connected with WGSU - and he invites them to join the WGSU Alumni Facebook group.

Robert Freiburger, who retired from the Geneseo faculty in 1995, was director of instructional resources at the college and had either engineering or programming responsibilities at WGSU for more than 30 years.

"The best part of overseeing the station was working with the students," said Freiburger. "I still keep in touch with some of them who worked at the station. We had a good time. I applaud those who have been responsible for the station in reaching this significant milestone."

Current WGSU station manager Laura Vitto, a senior from Merrick, N.Y.,, echoes Freiburger's commendation.

"I am proud of what WGSU has become over the last 50 years," said Vitto, "and of the DJs who have taken the time and dedication to help build such a tight-knit community on campus."

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