In response to today's seventh Anniversary of Madison's Snake on the Lake going live on-air, and a dedication by former UW Chancellor John Wiley of their brand-spanking new, state-of-the-art broadcasting facility in the new student services tower, I sent this letter (well, email) to General Manager Dave Black and Tech Director Matt Rockwell today. They are, simply put, the best there are.
I know the WSUM move-in is an ongoing process, and I certainly hate to get the cart and the horse in the wrong order, but in light of tonight's events, I just wanted to offer my heartfelt congratulations to both of you on seeing what some would have called a blissful pipe dream all the way through to an operating reality. I'm a little irked I won't be able to be there early enough for the ex-Chancellor's presentation. As much as I tried to weasle out of work early, it just couldn't happen today, but I will be stopping out briefly a little later this evening.
I worked on the WSUM facilities visioning committee, sketching out the initial concepts for the new studios, knowing that I would be long gone by the time they were actually implemented. It was still one of the most exciting and fulfilling processes of my career at the UW, as we bounced ideas off of each other and, of course, Matt Rockwell, who has worked on this project with all the tenacity of a mother eagle defending her nest. Without his guidance, his technical know-how, his creativity, his drive and his dedication to the project, WSUM's new studio would be a shadow of what it stands to be today: the best student broadcasting facility in the nation. His fingerprints will remain on everything in the station for generations to come. If it's not too dramatic to say so, I think it's his opus.
While Matt's nuts and bolts knowledge of this project is unparalleled, it is matched in intensity only by the depth of Dave Black's vision for WSUM, which spans decades to a time when just having a radio station on the UW campus was more unlikely than the prospect of opening a state of the art facility was in 2006. Every accomplishment that's been made by WSUM's students and staff since its inception has stood on the shoulders of this giant. When he embarked on founding the program, he might have known this day would come, but it's a likely chance nobody else would have given it a shot, and it's his confidence, leadership and attention to detail that has guided WSUM to this point.
Coming up through the years in a ramshackle, second-floor, gerry-rigged, sometimes smelly and sometimes sweltering studio was never easy, but for the students that have built WSUM to what it is today, it was never about the equipment or the building. It was about WSUM's mission, and it was about putting together a unique on-air product we could all be proud of. I don't expect that will ever change, but that hard work is paying out today. It's only right that WSUM will finally have a studio worthy of the dedication exhibited by the dozens, the hundreds of students and staff that pour themselves into making the station the best that it can be. While I'm sorry I won't personally be able to capitalize on it, this new facility will provide opportunities for learning and expression that the towers building never could, and if anything, it will raise the bar even further for the next generation of SUMers.