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Buzz you hear is about WRCU's new high-tech home

By Tim O'Keeffe on September 24, 2008

Programming on Colgate’s student-run radio station is now being beamed from a new studio that has dramatically increased the station’s visibility and created new opportunities for student deejays.

The dreamy digital digs for WRCU (90.1) is in the new Blackmore Media Center, in the lower level of the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop).

“We have gone from extremely little visibility to being in the center of campus,” station general manage Paul Osmolskis said about this summer’s move from cramped quarters in Drake Hall to the Coop.

Students work in the broadcast room, which can be seen by students walking through the Coop. The station now has 2,350 square feet of space in the very visible spot. (Photo by Andy Daddio)

Students checking mailboxes or using the popular just-renovated Coop computer lab can see the station’s broadcast room through a large window that features an “On the Air” sign that glows red when deejays are working.

The space previously housed Information Technology Services offices, which are now in the Case Library and Geyer Center for Information Technology.

Work on the studio started in May and was mostly completed by the end of August. After training on the equipment, which includes Harris soundboards and Audio Vault software, students began the first formal day of programming Sept. 15.

“It’s a college radio station on steroids,” said Osmolskis.


The new WRCU home is named after Robert L. Blackmore ’41, William Henry Crawshaw Professor of literature emeritus, who died in 2002.

Welcoming signBlackmore retired from teaching in 1986 after also having served as chair of the English department, director of the humanities division, and dean of the faculty and provost.

An adept jazz musician, Blackmore was a jazz disc jockey at WRCU and other area radio stations for 40 years.

An avid collector, he assembled more than 60,000 albums over 50 years. In 2001, he donated his library of jazz recordings and books to Colgate, where they serve as the core of the university’s Blackmore Jazz Archive.

Rob Fraiman ’80, a former WRCU deejay, spearheaded alumni fundraising efforts for the station as a tribute to Blackmore. The station’s broadcast studio will be named in memory of former station manager Matthew Smoler ’89.

Nearly $875,000 has been raised so far for the project, and a formal dedication is planned for the spring.

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The station accommodates everything except eight-tracks, and the equipment is very versatile, according to music director Steven Butler ’09.

Bands can perform in the studios to promote their campus performance and the shows can be taped for future use. Deejays can pre-record shows and also do live call-in shows, complete with “delay” functionality. They can create commercials and personal service announcements.

“Administrators asked us what we wanted and the equipment far exceeds what we had hoped for,” said Butler.

Robert Dwyer served as project manager for Colgate, working with architects QPK Design, Peterson Engineering, and Digital Radio Engineering.

The nerve center of the station is the broadcast studio. There also is a production studio, which mimics the main studio in functionality and also gives deejays a place to practice, an edit room, three offices, a server room, and a conference room.

“It was important for students to make it a comfortable space, a place they can get together and talk music,” said Bill Gabler ’07, assistant director of the Center for Leadership and Student Involvement and advisor to WRCU, which is the largest student organization on campus, with more than 170 participants.

English professor Michael Coyle, the group’s academic advisor for the past 18 years, raved about the project.

“The station has been designed with an eye to the future, and is absolutely ready to meet the new digital era,” said Coyle, who has a weekly jazz show on WRCU. “It’s something everyone can be very proud of.”

The broadcast room is the nerve center of the new station, which also includes a production studio, edit room, three offices, a server room, and a conference room. (Photo by Andy Daddio)


  • Mark Leibowitz said:

    looks mega-cool!!
    u guys want a guy for a midday airshift?
    I’m ready to give up the Hollywood life…
    If you need me I’ll be at The Jug

  • Marvin R. Clinch '55 said:

    My wife and I have just returned from the dedication of the new WRCU studio facility and were blown away with the studios, equipment, and enthusiasm of the students and advisors.
    Having last working on WCU and WRCU in the early 1950’s I marvel at the high tech that has been incorporated in a “non-professional” station. My hat is off to the sponsors, planners, and staff (and to the future staff) of WRCU for the foresight, planning, and dedication of a well designed and executed project. The present and future Colgate students who will have the opportunity to use and learn “the business” have a first-rate facility. This non-credit, non-classroom education will provide far more opportunities in the future than they now imagine.
    The sponsors of the facility have truly honored Prof. Blackmore in taste, style, and thoughtfulness.
    Thank you for the invitation to attend the dedication.
    Marv. Clinch ’55

  • Bob Barron said:

    Very cool! I still have a clear mental picture of the studios in the KED basement. While they were certainly not bad for the time, this equipment looks a lot more modern and reliable. I remember that we had a series of large, burned-out, metal-shrouded radio transmitter tubes sitting in one of the studios as a memorial to the frequency with which we fried them. Those were the days! Enjoy the new digs!

  • Jesse Skoch said:

    Very glad to see this finally come to fruition. This surely marks a change from the time when being tech director meant having the courage to kick the old equipment a bit harder than anybody else. Still, the thing that has always made RCU great is the programming – keep up the good work.

  • David Feinbloom said:

    Very nice! I enjoyed my time as a DJ in Dodge’s “lower level walkout”. The equipment in the station then was a far cry from the picture above (though I’m glad to see a turntable), but the view of the Chenango Valley from its window was terrific. I think I would have found being watched a bit distracting. Today’s student DJ’s must be much more focused.