From the Top-Top-Top of Mt. Olympus

Originally posted at the “SU is US” SUAA President’s Blog:

From the Top-Top-Top of Mt. Olympus

February 27, 2014 § 1 Comment

Hello Orange Nation!

I bring you a special guest blog by Mark Verone, Vice-President of the Syracuse University Alumni Association.  Enjoy…



From the Top-Top-Top of Mt. Olympus…

2 major events happened in 1973.  The first was my entry into the world and the second was the birth of the Greatest Media Classroom on earth – WJPZ Radio.  Now in its 40th year of broadcasting, WJPZ has been one of the most successful student-run media establishments in the country.  I, along with fellow 1995 SU grads are also in our 40th year and it’s hard to believe that a student-run college radio station has been so successful. WJPZ was more than a college radio station, more than a student-run activity.  Z89 is a training ground for some of the best media professionals from my era and beyond that have walked the campus of Syracuse University.  The remarkable story of this 100 watt radio station that reaches the metro Syracuse radio market has been its commitment to education and “real-world” experiences that supplement the classroom experience.  If you want to get into the broadcasting business, WJPZ is the best and safest environment to hone your craft.  At the heart of this success is WJPZ’s commitment to a Top 40 programming format versus a play whatever you want block format.  This commitment to education teaches critical skills that can be applied to all areas of the media business and the professors are the students.

For most SU students, they either heard the rumors about this media classroom, discovered WJPZ while applying to SU or they got introduced to it during freshman orientation weekend.  Some actually made their decision to come to SU because of this “100 watt flamethrower” of a radio station.  Z89 was usually the loudest and most fun student activity table at freshmen orientation trying to recruit the next generation of broadcasters to join the Z Team.  For me, my introduction to Z89 happened in the 80’s when the WJPZ went from the AM dial and cable access to 89.1FM.  This remarkable transformation along with the full tumultuous history of WJPZ is told in a new documentary commissioned by the WJPZ Alumni Association.  “Greatest Media Classroom: The Story of WJPZ” premieres this weekend at the 29th annual WJPZ Alumni Banquet being held at the University Sheraton on Saturday, March 1st.  Students and alums from all over gather each year to celebrate and educate in this fun-filled weekend that is more like a family reunion than an alumni event.

Growing up in East Syracuse, NY, the history of WJPZ, started in 1985 when I first discovered this new radio station at beginning of the FM dial at 89.1.  I was not aware at the time that the station was the same age as me.  I was just a 12yr old kid who was more influenced by what I “saw” on the radio versus television.  I knew I wanted to get into broadcasting and I made it my mission to get into the S.I. Newhouse School.  And until I arrived at Syracuse University, I did not have a definitive plan of where my path would take me in the media business, but I knew all about WJPZ and wanted to be a part of Z89.  I can honestly say that WJPZ is the one place at Syracuse University where I met some of my closest friends and colleagues.  The bond of WJPZ Alumni is like a big extended family and to this day I encourage all freshmen from Chicago attending our sendoff event to check out the Greatest Media Classroom that is WJPZ.

Due to prior family and SUAA commitments, I will not be in Syracuse to watch the documentary with the WJPZ Alumni this week.  However, I have had the opportunity to get a sneak preview from Executive Producer, Scott MacFarlane and this documentary does not disappoint.  It tells the emotional and triumphant journey and evolution of WJPZ over the last four decades.  Just when you thought you knew everything about WJPZ…think again.  This documentary is an important record for the SU Archives and is an incredible representation of the history and influences on the careers and lives of so many SU Students and alums.  I wish everyone GOOD RADIO and MAJOR MARKET broadcasting karma this weekend.

To preview the trailer:

Next time you are in Syracuse, tune in to 89.1FM or listen to Z89 Live all over the world on – you won’t believe how professional and major market this little student run radio station sounds:

 More About the WJPZ Alumni Association:




 About Mark Verone:

Mark is a 1995 graduate of the prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University where he received the 1993 award for “Best Creative Production” from the National Association of College Broadcasters (NACB) for his work at WJPZ-FM.  Mark started his career in the radio business where he held key marketing roles at Metromedia International, Cox Radio, Jacor Broadcasting, Clear Channel Radio, and Point-To-Point Marketing.  At Clear Channel, he pivoted his career and transitioned to digital advertising operations which led to a global Partner Marketing Operations role at Orbitz Worldwide and his current position running Advertising Operations and Sales for Gogo, a global leader of in-flight connectivity and a pioneer in wireless in-flight digital entertainment solutions.  Mark and his wife Rachelle, (also an alum), are very active in the SU Alumni community  Mark currently serves as Vice President of the national Syracuse University Alumni Association Board of Directors and host the Chicago are sendoff event for new students.  Mark resides in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago with his wife and their two sons.  He sometimes can be found trying to hit the “post” while playing DJ with his iPhone in the car.  The kids think he has lost his mind.

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