Radio station WAER 88.3 FM, Syracuse, marking its 65th anniversary in broadcasting, announced the opening of the WAER Hall of Fame inside its broadcast facility on Ostrom Avenue at Syracuse University. The Hall of Fame will honor the most accomplished of WAER’s thousands of student alumni, which include a large pool of historic, transcendent figures in broadcasting.
WAER has also announced College of Visual and Performing Arts alumnus Ted Koppel ’60, H’82 was honored as the first inductee. WAER awarded Koppel with a Hall of Fame trophy at a formal induction ceremony at SU's Greenberg House in Washington, D.C., on Friday, May 18.
Koppel told those who gathered to honor him that, “The WAER Hall of Fame Award is the most valued award I have received.”
Koppel is perhaps best known as anchor and managing editor of ABC’s "NIGHTLINE" from 1980 to 2005. He served as a war correspondent, chief diplomatic correspondent and domestic correspondent during a five-decade career at ABC.
Koppel began his historic journalism career as a student broadcaster at WAER and would ultimately become program director of the station in 1959. Koppel credited WAER with instilling a passion for broadcasting and journalism and for allowing him the opportunity to learn constructive lessons.
WAER General Manager Joe Lee said, “Ted Koppel epitomizes what WAER is all about. The station is America’s foremost media education laboratory. Ted, like so many students who have followed him, got his first hands-on experience and his first taste of radio inside WAER’s studios. Our alumni include some the greatest broadcasters of recent generations. This Hall of Fame will serve as a ‘Mount Rushmore’ of our remarkable alums. Ted Koppel is our version of George Washington.”
WAER announced the second induction ceremony is scheduled for September 29 at the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel and Conference Center. Lee says annual ceremonies will be held each fall to continue adding honorees. A select committee of WAER alumni and WAER management will convene annually to deliberate and select future inductees.
Alumnus Scott MacFarlane, who worked as a WAER news reporter and music announcer from 1994-1998, helped honor Koppel at the inaugural induction ceremony. “It’s exciting to think of ‘Who’s next?’ for this Hall of Fame,” MacFarlane said, “WAER’s sports and news alumni are pioneers and icons of the broadcast industry. No radio station or media education outlet is more deserving of a Hall of Fame than WAER.”
Alumnus Steve Geimann became WAER’s news director in October 1972, a few weeks before the presidential election, when the incumbent resigned. “I was honored to help inaugurate the WAER Hall of Fame. Across six decades of WAER's history, the goal has been the same: teach aspiring broadcasters the basics of radio, from news coverage to sports to music and public service.
“That was the case when Hall of Fame inductee Ted Koppel ran the station in 1959, and it was true when I served as news director during the 1970s. And, as I learned in talking to Lakshmi Singh and Scott MacFarlane, it remained the mission well into the 21st century. The alumni of WAER are part of a community of broadcasters with a deep appreciation for teaching the new generation of broadcasters. The station has a special place for me, helping to start my career and introduce me to the woman who 25 years later would become my wife.”
WAER 88.3 FM is a Public Radio Station licensed to Syracuse University. Its dual missions are to inform, educate and entertain the Syracuse community, while providing professional development opportunities to aspiring broadcasters, journalists and communicators.
For more information contact, Mary Evans, WAER development director, at 443-5253, or Maevan03@syr.edu.