This is from a recent Penn State News feature on The LION 90.7fm. It tells the story of the campus radio station’s recent move to new facilities in the renovated HUB-Robeson Center:
“If I won the lottery, I would volunteer at the Lion for the rest of my life,” said Valenti, who has served as the station’s program director since he arrived at University Park campus in 2011 to attend classes (he later switched to World Campus to spend more time with his children). “As a 40-year-old, it was kind of difficult to find an extracurricular group to get involved with. But radio has always been a big part of my life, so I knocked on the station door, found somebody and kind of inserted myself.”
Today, Valenti works alongside as many as 100 students involved in the club each semester to keep listeners — the majority of whom are digital-device-wielding students — tuning into radio, while still preserving the legacy of the station.
I excerpted Valenti’s sentiment because his feelings have largely been echoed in similar ways in every generation of Penn State student broadcasters. Whether it’s the live, distinct nature of the medium or just something in the water, student broadcasting is something people tend not just to participate in, but in some respect fall in love with.
Earlier today I met with Russ Rockwell, the station’s chief operator and faculty adviser. We hadn’t gotten together since December 2013, so it was time to catch up. I filled him in on the latest Penn State Media Alumni Interest Group activities, and he shared the situation from a technical, engineering, and advising perspective.
As we were wrapping up after two hours, he reflected that despite the enormous time and money that goes into the engineering and physical plant and all the equipment that makes the station hum, what matters is ultimately whether student broadcasters have something to share.
I completely agree, and I think that perspective that the human element matters over and above the minutiae of bureaucracy and operations is something that distinguishes The LION 90.7fm among most stations.