After a year and a half of silence, Ramapo’s own radio station, WRPR, finally has an online presence thanks to a little help from ESPN broadcast personality and Ramapo alumnus Don La Greca.
“Come on, wake up over there at Ramapo! I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that radio station,” La Greca said on air on Feb. 18.
WRPR's 43-year-old station was silenced when construction commenced on the Adler Center for Nursing Excellence a year and a half ago, and the station's antenna was removed. It has since been replaced, but is not functioning.
According to La Greca, WRPR was founded in 1972. One of the station’s very first projects was a “Louie, Louie” marathon, a song originally by The Kingsmen. More recently, the station was running through the efforts of two main teams – a live events team and a radio station team. WRPR had been managing successfully this way until the construction for the new nursing center commenced.
“We’ve been very patient with it,” Phil Rocha, live manager for WRPR, said.
Waiting patiently for the construction to finish, the club looked for other ways to broadcast.
“When I became station manager, I was really pushing for an online feed instead of being over FM waves on the radio because I figured the online feed was more accessible and attainable,” John DiNunzio, station manager, said.
It was not until Ryan Morik, a member of the WRPR club, tweeted about WRPR that progress was truly made to get the station up and running once more.
“I thought to myself — what have I got to lose?” Morik said.
A powerful on-air shout-out from La Greca, a 1992 graduate, was more than he had even dreamed of.
“It was good because this guy isn’t some midnight shift radio show host. This guy is on the second most popular radio station in the United States, let alone one of my inspirations, one of the reasons I’m going into sports broadcasting. It was really, really awesome. When I heard it I was speechless,” Morik said.
While on air, La Greca not only called for action, but also highlighted the important role the station played in his life while at Ramapo.
“I shouldn’t be telling you this, but I cut classes to hang at the radio station — that’s how I learned, that’s how I came into this business. I would not be here if it wasn’t for that radio station up and operational,” La Greca said, wanting to make a difference, even offering to donate money to the station and to personally contact the “powers that be.”
The WRPR club feels the impact of La Greca’s call to action and the creation of an ongoing petition by the Ramapo Music Club have greatly contributed to the progress of the live Internet stream. Leaders of the club explained that the creation of the petition was a complete surprise to them but also a true testament that the Ramapo community supports the station – not just the members of the club. It has received over 200 signatures.
“The petition obviously helped because after Ryan was able to get that shout-out for us, not only the student body, but the head people in CSI and the chairmen actually looked into it and saw that there was actually a petition going around. It definitely pushed it forward,” DiNunzio said.
La Greca’s on-air statement was about more than just getting the station running. According to Morik, it also stands as proof that people outside the club care about the station.
“Another reason why it meant so much to me – it wasn’t a script, he wasn’t doing it just to do it. He cares a lot about this school. He cares a lot about being an alumni and he cares about the legacy that he left and the people who are carrying his legacy,” Morik said.
Although the station is still looking to add a live radio broadcast to their new online stream, their voices are no longer silenced.
“We’re relieved, to say the least,” said Morik.