"You can get there from here"
WBSU 89.1 The Point has launched broadcasting careers across the decades — and will soon welcome home some of its most acclaimed alumni.
Talent bred at Brockport is heard on airwaves throughout Rochester:
Carter and Corey (Megan Mattice ’06 and Corey Moran ’06) on 98PXY, Tariq Spence ’99 on WDKX, Sandy Waters (Sandy Cutarella ’98) on The Buzz, Kane-O (Dave Kane ’79) on WCMF.
It’s also seen in television, both on screen and behind the scenes: Ryan Nobles ’98 is a Washington correspondent for CNN. Tiffanie Wong ’95 is an operations supervisor for CNN. Joe Torres ’85 is a news anchor for WABC in New York City. Bob Riggio ’81 is a videographer/editor for CNBC and WNBC, also in New York City. Todd Kerkman ’00, Casey Bortnick ’01, and Dan Russell ’04 are on air with Spectrum News in Rochester.
It plays crucial roles in major media hubs across the country and around the globe: New York City, DC, Atlanta, Los Angeles, the Cayman Islands, Denmark, and New Zealand, to name just a few.
Tracing back these varied career paths, the roots all start on SUNY Brockport campus at WBSU 89.1 The Point.
Looking at the scope of the list of alumni on display inside the station in the Seymour College Union, Station Manager Warren “Koz” Kozireski ’82 says the message he wants students to take away is, “You can get there from here.”
What started as the Radio Club in the late 1950s, broadcasting solely within the Union, evolved into an FM station reaching seven counties.
Scott Fishman ’80 was part of the team that led the expansion.
“We were only a closed-circuit station at first, so if you didn’t live on campus, there was no way for WBSU to reach that portion of our student body,” Fishman said. As general manager, he worked with a team of students and administrators to get an FCC license and become an FM station.
“I’m just proud to have been a small part of helping to improve the radio station’s ability to entertain, inform, and communicate,” said Fishman.
Kozireski’s long history with the station dates back to the same era. He worked there throughout his undergraduate years, then returned twice in subsequent years to fill in temporarily as manager. His second return stint started out as a three-month contract.
“That turned into nine months, then a year, and now it’s 28 years later,” he said.
Technologically speaking, Kozireski’s career with the station has spanned transitions from zero computers to fourteen; from a 10-watt bandwidth to 7,338 (increasing both the range and strength of the signal); and from reel-to-reel, albums, cassette tapes, and CDs (the station got its first CD player in his second year back) to today’s fully digital system. He also has overseen renovations in four studios over the last decade.
Kozireski says the upgrades not only help from a marketing perspective but “help the students stay current, which is the most important thing.”
Staffing averages about 50-60 students at any given time, working across 10 departments. Those who aren’t looking to work as DJs can focus in news, sports, marketing, public relations, sales, music production, engineering, or IT.
Junior Kayli Zeluff works as program director, as part of the sales team, and also as a DJ. She joined the staff during her first week at Brockport and found it quickly came to shape her college career — and to shape her as a young professional.
“Being at The Point has not only given me hands-on experience that I couldn’t receive in the classroom, but it has also taught me what a professional atmosphere is like and how a real radio station works,” Zeluff said.
Majoring in journalism and broadcasting with a concentration in media production and a minor in English, Zeluff knows she wants to work in radio but is open to what role she might play. Her involvement with The Point recently helped her take a big step toward that future.
“I have been hired part time as a news reporter for WCJW in Warsaw [NY],” she said. “This is a job that I probably wouldn’t have gotten or wouldn’t have even heard about if I wasn’t at The Point.”
A key element of The Point’s professional-development mindset is that it’s run with a much broader scope than most college radio stations, focusing on content of interest to the greater Rochester area.
“From day one, we tried to make this not a college station, but a community station,” said Kozireski.
Stacey Fitch ’85, who majored in broadcasting, says her experiences at WBSU as well as SUNY Cable News (now Talon Television) were the catalyst for her career as vice president for ESPN Production Operations.
“I learned to DJ, write and report news, produce, and direct. I had a blast and never saw it as actual work,” she said. “I loved the diversity of people I worked with, the crazy non-traditional shifts, and being a part of something we as a collective team were truly passionate about.”
Fitch’s continued relationship with Brockport has benefited the student body: she has hosted visiting groups and has hired five alumni in recent years.
Fishman, too, considers his WBSU experience to be the foundation of his career. He is now senior vice president and executive producer at Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV).
“It was my first experience in radio, and I learned so much — not only the technical side of how things worked, but the process by which successful radio stations functioned,” said Fishman. “It taught me the value of working together as a team to make the whole be that much better.”
Fishman and Fitch are among eight honorees who will be inducted into the first WBSU Hall of Fame class at a ceremony on campus on April 14. Tickets are available online through April 7.
The additional inductees are: Nobles; Wong; Michael Doyle ’80, regional president of Entercom Communications; Ron Reger ’71, former vice president and general manager of WTAR/WLTY in Norfolk, VA; Bernard Lynch, former chief engineer, who helped design the station’s current facilities and oversaw the transition to FM; and David Van Wie, the station’s first FM general manager.
Current students are heavily involved in planning the ceremony and will present the awards that night.
“Most of the inductees started as students here, and now students are inducting them,” said Kozireski. “We complete the circle.”
The close-knit community mindset celebrated through this ceremony is reflected in the day-to-day experiences of its current student staff.
“The Point has made me a part of something bigger than just going to classes,” said Zeluff. “It’s like a second home.”
The anticipation of the ceremony provides an opportunity for its honorees to reflect.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a great career,” said Fitch. “Have I worked very hard to get to this point? Yes. I also know that I wouldn’t be here without the support of my many colleagues and mentors along the way, including friends, advisors, and professors from Brockport.”
“I have so many amazing memories of my time at Brockport and being in that student union,” Fishman said. “There were so many great friends, some of whom I still keep in touch with; there were great professors and mentors like Martha Walstrum [former manager of television services] and Barry Goldfarb [former lecturer in the Department of Communication] who taught me so much and really helped to set me on the path to what has been — and continues to be — a most rewarding career.”