Oct 09, 2009 Herm Card Uncategorized
Costas on campus
Homecoming weekend at Syracuse University dubbed “Orange Central” included an event for alumni of campus radio station WAER. The station, an icon in the college broadcasting field, boasts a number of graduates who became legendary in the broadcasting field, a couple of dozen in sports alone. Two of the top names were at a reception Friday Oct. 2, Hank Greenwald (’57) and Bob Costas (’74). Costas addressed the attendees, and paid tribute, not only to his fellow WAER alumni, but also to the station itself for its contributions to broadcasting.
The station, in 1947 known as WJIV with a broadcast power of 2.5 watts, was the first Class D educational broadcasting station in the country and a pioneer in the field of providing broadcasting training and experience for students.
When the FCC made Class D an official part of the FM licensing system, the station became WAER, for the Alpha Epsilon Rho honor society.
“It was a place that was willing and able to bring together a group of like-minded people who loved broadcasting and let us go to it,” Costas said. “There was great energy here and we all are the better for it.”
Costas mentioned the names of a few of the better-known broadcaster and allowed that he was hesitant to do so for fear of leaving people out. He then told a story about himself from his days in Syracuse.
“My first job in broadcasting was the Eastern Hockey League, broadcasting the Syracuse Blazers games for WSYR radio. They paid me 30 dollars a game plus five dollars meal money on the road. I rode the bus with the team, plugged an electronic gadget into the phone line in the press box and broadcast back to SYR. My very first game was at Johnstown, the team they based a team on in the movie Slap Shot.
“To prepare, I got the rosters of the teams and studied them till the players were like members of my own family. Then, just before game time, I noticed that the Johnstown owner had sprung for new uniforms — all the numbers were different.
“There was no time to relearn the numbers, so when the first Johnstown player on the ice was a guy wearing number 2 named Fran ois Ouimet, I decided that he was about to play the game of his life.”
Costas continued, with a big grin on his face, “No matter what the play, Fran ois was in on it. He scored all the goals and even assisted on his own. He checked everybody, including himself, into the boards. He was in on every play. He was everywhere.”
Things picked up for Costas, who has become one of the icons of the broadcasting industry.
Many of the attendees were alumni from the early days of the station, when it was housed in a metal prefab building adjacent to then Archbold Stadium. Following the “meet and greet” part of the event, the alumni were treated to a tour of the station’s Ostrom Avenue facility — a far cry from the facility many remember from the early days of the late 40s through the 1970s before a move to the Newhouse School and then to the current site in 2003.
Card is the city Eagle’s street reporter – reach him at Eaglepoetry@aol.com.