Onondaga Community College annually recognizes distinguished graduates by naming them ”Alumni Faces” for their accomplishments and contributions to the community. The 2016 class will be honored during a ceremony October 26 at 5:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall which is located in the Academic II building. One of the graduates we will honor that night is Kathy Rowe
Kathy Rowe was part of Central New Yorkers morning routine. Get your breakfast, make your coffee get your kids ready for school with Kathy’s pleasant voice and radio station Y94 on in the background. She graced local air waves for nearly four decades on radio stations Y94, 95X and WOLF. She was a natural in radio but when she came to OCC from what was then known as North Syracuse High School she wasn’t sure what her calling would be. “I knew I had an interest in media but I wasn’t sure what format I wanted to pursue since I didn’t have experience in any mediums. I was looking to explore and find what the right fit was.”
The faculty in the Radio & TV major were exactly what Rowe needed to learn and grow. “The professors always had their door open for questions and conversation. We had unlimited use of the studio facilities and could work on our craft anytime.” Rowe remembers one project in particular that consisted of telling a story through sound effects. It cemented her love of audio and the world of radio.
In her second year on campus Rowe was hired by radio station WOLF to work as a news anchor, reporter and producer. She eventually became the overnight disc jockey. “The fact I was able to land a job in the radio profession in just my second year of school without any formal training prior to that is a testament to the faculty and their commitment to student success,” Rowe said. During her time at WOLF she was also in charge of hosting a weekend public affairs show which turned out to be an eye-opening experience for her. “I saw a community interest component that would become just as important to me and how I wanted to incorporate that into my work.” Her love of promoting community events inspired her to become a champion for events and groups which had not previously had a voice in the community.
Rowe’s emergence as a leader in the community set an example for all, especially for women in the media. “Looking back on it, I take great pride in having my own show. It was unusual for a woman at the time. If it inspired other women to pursue radio, the profession is better for it.”
The role of radio has changed since Rowe’s first job in the early 80s. She views the medium as the first social media and believes it still has a vital role to play. “There’s a companion piece to radio that is unique. It creates a very personal connection with the listener. I believe it will remain a viable offering in the years ahead.”
As Rowe reflects on being named an Alumni Faces honoree she is thankful for the foundation she built on campus. “Students and faculty within Radio & TV were a big family. We looked out for one another and nurtured the idea of creativity since everyone understood the business is constantly changing.”
After earning her degree and achieving success Rowe never forgot her roots. She was always available to visit classes, host interns and serve as an ambassador for the College in the community. “I love OCC. It remains one of the best choices of my life. They transformed a kid with some potential into someone who could not only contribute right away to the profession, but taught her the importance of creativity so she could thrive.”