The position of engineer at WTSR, left vacant by the retirement of Robert Maarberg, is in danger of remaining vacant under the hiring freeze enacted by the College under Gov. James McGreevey’s proposed budget cuts.
Maarberg, who left the position at the end of last year, is now a consultant with the communication studies department and is on campus only two days a week.
“There are very few people who could do this job by themselves,” Peter Fontana, station manager for WTSR, the College’s radio station, said. Fontana spoke highly of Maarberg’s work, but stressed the importance of having someone in the position.
As engineer, Maarberg was responsible for maintaining all the equipment both for WTSR and the communication studies department, work now left unattended to.
“If something breaks, we have to take it upon ourselves to fix it,” Fontana said. “The point is, the administration doesn’t see the radio station as important, which just isn’t the case.”
Fontana has been in close contact with both Gary Woodward, professor of communication studies and Susan Albertine, dean of the School of Culture and Society, who are both petitioning the administration for an exception to the hiring freeze for this situation.
Albertine suggested that the College would find a replacement for Maarberg.
“The administration understands the importance of Mr. Maarberg’s position,” Albertine said. “I expect that we will find a way to provide technical support because TV/Radio facilities are essential to our academic programs in communication studies.”
Albertine said that an interim plan was already in place to cope with the situation and support the studios, but provided no details. “Not only did Maarberg fix equipment for TSR, but for the entire communication studies department,” Fontana said. “If something goes wrong, it shuts down the major for a day.”
“I see this as a wise investment for the College,” Fontana added. “The students that come out of the department and especially out of TSR are known and recruited in the professional field.”
He cited the comments of Washington and Lee University graduate Benjamin Losi, a Ewing resident, who, in hoping to revamp the radio station at his school, worked closely with a number of college radio stations, including WTSR.
“By far, he said, TSR was the greatest station he’d seen, and that’s including WPRB from Princeton University,” Fontana said. “We want to keep it that way.”
Students who have worked for WTSR have, in the past, gone on to news jobs with local radio stations, including three people at WPST in Trenton.
“Students get a feel for what radio work is like. This experience helps them significantly in the job market,” Fontana said.
While Fontana said he and the rest of the staff at WTSR are aware that many students at the College do not find the time to listen to the station, he is confident that this was a trend that was going to change.
“We try to cover every campus life event, we’re there,” Fontana said. “If you go to a volleyball tournament without music, I hate to admit it, but it’d probably be pretty boring.” Fontana also cited a “misconception” that WTSR is mostly an “underground music venue.”
“We were playing John Mayer last year, before anybody knew who the hell he was,” Fontana added.