WUSB-FM, Stony Brook University’s non-commercial radio station, was honored by Suffolk County, RESPONSE Crisis Center of Suffolk, and the New York Blood Center for its communication efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. The station and several staff members were recognized in a ceremony Sept. 27 in the SAC Auditorium for providing continuous and important guidance during the crisis.
WUSB received a proclamation from Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn, who cited the station’s dedication and commitment to COVID-19 and pandemic-related programming and for delivering important and timely information via interviews, public service announcements, official New York State and Suffolk County communications, and more.
“Stony Brook is an incredibly important part of the community, both economically and culturally,” said Hahn, who grew up in Stony Brook and is parent to a university alum. “When the pandemic hit, there was a lot of misinformation being spread. We relied on WUSB to share information from trusted sources and we’re grateful for all they did to help get important and accurate information out there.”
Isobel Breheny-Schafer ’05, ‘21, WUSB general manager, and Frank Burgert ’80, long-time station engineer, received individual proclamations for their leadership during this difficult period.
Norm Prusslin, director of the Media Arts Minor and a faculty member in the Department of Theatre Arts at Stony Brook and the radio station’s founding general manager, was also recognized by Hahn for his decades of service to WUSB, student media and media academic programs, and commitment to serving the on and off-campus communities.
The event opened with a video highlighting the station’s history, followed by opening remarks from Kate Valerio, co-host of WUSB’s “Taking Care of Yourself” program and board member of the RESPONSE Crisis Center, a 24×7 suicide prevention hotline.
“RESPONSE has resources available 24×7, 365 days a year,” said Valerio. “People ask how we do it. The answer is we’re able to do it because of partners like Stony Brook and WUSB.”
Valerio cited the station’s communication efforts as people struggled with the difficult challenges the pandemic presented. The partnership between RESPONSE and WUSB, now in its fiftieth year, began in 1971, after an unsuccessful on-campus suicide attempt.
Yadira Navarro, business development manager for New York Blood Center (NYBC) spoke of the station’s contribution to encouraging blood donations and keeping the blood supply at a safe level through the pandemic.
“We’re so grateful that Stony Brook is a great supporter of our work,” said Navarro. “WUSB and Stony Brook have literally helped us save lives.”
Stony Brook has had a long partnership with NYBC and was recognized in 2019 as the Number One Blood Center donation site among New York colleges and universities. In addition to the radio station, the Stony Brook University Student Blood Drive Committee and Office of Government & Community Relations also received certificates from NYBC for their continued efforts.
Prusslin offered the closing remarks, calling the award “recognition for all those who contributed to nearly 45 years of continuous programming.”
“When planning for WUSB-FM’s inaugural broadcast in 1977, we had a chance to imagine what this radio station could be,” said Prusslin. “For five decades we’ve been an important voice that is connected to our listeners, and that has been clearly demonstrated through the COVID pandemic. It’s a perfect example of what WUSB brings to the Stony Brook community.”
— Robert Emproto