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WVBR staff and alumni at studio opening in Collegetown

WVBR-FM and Cornell Media Guild staff and station alumni gather at the new Olbermann-Corneliess Studios at Buffalo Street and Stewart Avenue. A fundraising campaign allowed the station to purchase the building, upgrade equipment and expand operations in a location closer to campus and the Ithaca community WVBR serves. Photo: Provided

Alumni help WVBR return to Collegetown

After 14 years, WVBR-FM is finally back in Collegetown, with all-new broadcast and production facilities and a lot of proud students and alumni who made it happen.

Ribbon-cutting for new WVBR studios in Collegetown

WVBR-FM and student staff and station alumni celebrated the opening of all-new facilities in the Olbermann-Corneliess Studios in Collegetown March 15. WVBR's new home is named for supporter Keith Olbermann '79's father, Theodore, and the late Glenn Corneliess '79, former WVBR program director. Photo: Ope Oladipo/University Photography

WVBR went live March 14 from the Olbermann-Corneliess Studios at 407 E. Buffalo St. at Stewart Avenue.

"Cornell was school, but WVBR was home," former news director Peter Schacknow '78 said at the dedication ceremony March 15. "I spent a very happy four years working at WVBR, which became the center of our social universe."

The relocation from a building on Mitchell Street farther up East Hill -- a "temporary" home for the station when it left Linden Avenue in 2000 -- was first discussed in 2005 at the inaugural WVBR Symposium, organized by Dan Zarrow '06.

"I was pleased to see that there was still a group of dedicated students who somehow managed to make WVBR as special for them as it was for me," Schacknow said. "When I joined the [Cornell Media Guild] board in 2007, to be honest, it seemed like a pipe dream. I couldn't imagine how we would ever get it done. But we kept on the lookout for appropriate facilities."

The station began a capital campaign in the 2012-13 academic year and raised $686,859 from 273 donors to date.

"Our alumni base was incredibly responsive, most especially Keith Olbermann, who donated a considerable sum to secure the naming rights," Schacknow said.

Olbermann '79 -- who addressed attendees from his home -- asked that the new location be named to honor his late father, Theodore, and Glenn Corneliess '79, a former WVBR program director who died in 1996.

WVBR also did on-air fundraising over two days in November, during weekend specialty shows with a largely older listenership. is geared to the student audience, and both outlets offer broadcast training opportunities, said Michael Mallon '14, Cornell Media Guild communications director.

"This location is the perfect symbol for what the station is," Mallon said. "We're close to the students, and to the community, where most of our listeners are."

All the broadcast equipment is new -- including mixing boards, microphones, CD players, turntables and three soundproof booths for content production. Broadcasts can originate live from any of the booths or studios "by themselves, or jointly with other broadcast locations in the building," said Drew Endick '14, Cornell Media Guild president.

The studios are also being outfitted for video and multimedia production, Mallon said. The second floor houses a CD library, workstations for news staff, a lounge area and a roomy studio.

"When we launched [online] two years ago, it was a $100 mixer on a table in a basement," Mallon said. "This gives us a lot of versatility -- some of the shows like 'Big Red Banter' have up to four co-hosts and an engineer."

More than 50 students and community volunteers helped WVBR move from East Hill over winter break, including carting more than 12,000 CDs and 10,000 albums, now neatly organized in the new space. Students also helped with renovations to the former two-unit commercial and residential property and installed equipment.

"There's been a whole lot of work put into the station by the students, so there's a lot of respect and agency with the space," Mallon said.

Svante Myrick speaks at WVBR studios opening in Collegetown

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick '09 speaks at the opening of WVBR's all-new facilities in the Olbermann-Corneliess Studios in Collegetown March 15. Photo: Ope Oladipo/University Photography

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