Last week, WRVO said goodbye to General Manager Michael S. Ameigh as he is now -- officially -- retired. We say officially because there had always been talk of retirement, as their often is after many years of dedicated service. We just never though it would actually happen!
Mike came to WRVO in 2010 when he was appointed by SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley. A regular fixture on the SUNY Oswego campus, he agreed to split his time between assistant provost for the college and general manager for the radio station. What many would have considered an impossible task, Mike made a lifestyle, bouncing back and forth across the quad when he was needed.
There have been quite a few changes in the past seven years. With Mike's work, WRVO has expanded across the region into Ithaca, Clayton, Rome and Fenner. Members of the station, who contribute to pay for the programming they enjoy each day, have donated record amounts in recent fundraisers, showing their support in some of public radio's most trying times. WRVO has generated new content with "Take Care" and reporting partnerships, and, as usual, has taken home multiple awards for news coverage from local and state associations.
The team of "Take Care" hosts, Lorraine Rapp and Linda Lowen cite Mike as their first and biggest cheerleader when the show was just in the planning stages circa 2012.
"He looked over our initial proposal for the show and generously offered his guidance and a slot on the WRVO schedule to shape it into the weekly radio show it is now: a conversation with some of the top experts in medicine, science and health," they say. "As more and more radio stations shy away from local origination and local content, he bucked he trend and took a risk. His support and encouragement have meant so much."
And if we take a moment to concentrate on the fun stuff, WRVO has welcomed countless NPR personalities and hosts to the region, always with the intention of letting our listeners put faces to the names they hear each day.
We've had the joy of hearing from Linda Wertheimer, considered one of the founding mothers of NPR; Diane Rehm, the well-known public radio host of her namesake daily program "The Diane Rehm Show;" NPR newscaster Lakshmi Singh; David Greene, host of NPR's "Morning Edition;" Ken Rudin, the "Political Junkie;" Michele Martin, now weekend host of "All Things Considered;" and others. Not to mention the whole team behind "Says You!"
There was a time before we were led by Mike, but even then he was a part of the station -- albeit it a mysterious one. As Mark Lavonier recalls, Mike was the voice of the pre-recorded station identification breaks. He would stop in from time to time to freshen up the recordings, which Mark often engineered.
"Usually we would get into a conversation about radio, from his days in the commercial radio world to observations of the business, and as a young producer I would turn into a sponge when he reminisced about how things used to be," Mark says. "When Mike became our general manager, I made it a point to visit to discuss station business. There were times in his office where I would have an occasional flash of being a young producer, hanging on his every word and feeling a sense of pride that a broadcaster I respected was at the helm of a station that has been dear to me. Even with a strong sense of the past, Mike held my respect by always looking forward for WRVO -- which was not only critical for us but meaningful."
Tom Herbert, one of our underwriting representatives, credits Mike with growing the underwriting department's reach.
"And for helping the underwriting team see a bigger picture for developing partnerships with upstate New York businesses and not-for-profit organizations."
The thing about many of Mike's considerably "grand" ideas, is that he came through and made most of them a reality. WRVO now has a satellite studio in downtown Syracuse at the SUNY Oswego Metro Center and branch campus. It allows our Syracuse-area reporters to work in a fully-functional space and affords us opportunities to interview politicians and others in the greater Syracuse area. Underwriting Representative Tom Herbert, producer and web coordinator Leah Landry, News Director Catherine Loper, Station Manager Bill Drake, Reporters Payne Horning and Tom Magnarelli were hired on Mike's watch. Some staff members have already made their way from WRVO to other public radio stations across the country.
And in case you're wondering what's next for Mike, he plans on spending time with family. He made the announcement in our last newsletter, saying:
"I am retiring this month, am leaving WRVO in the very able hands of hard-working, talented staff dedicated to carrying out the WRVO mission. Michele and I will keep our radios and streaming devices tuned to WRVO as we move on to the next exciting chapter in our lives."
We celebrated modestly with carrot cake in the conference room. From all of us here at WRVO, to a man who is not one for parties (or else we would have thrown a gala), congratulations on retirement and may you enjoy every single moment with your family and friends!
Looking to the future, you'll hear Station Manager Bill Drake on the air less as he transitions to picking up much of the behind-the-scenes work Mike did on a day-to-day basis. As many of our members know, Mike had been filling on the membership side of things since Bonnie's departure. In the future, if you need your credit card number updated or have questions about your current membership, please contact us by calling (315) 312-3690 or shoot us an email -- Pam, Leah or Bill can help with those requests.
All of the WRVO staff is happy to continue our relationship with the community, college and listeners as we continue to bring you regional news and more from NPR. As always, you can drop us a comment via email or call the station at (315) 312-3690 with comments or questions.