2018 Alumni Face Honoree: Jim Campagna ‘79

Onondaga Community College annually recognizes distinguished graduates by naming them “Alumni Faces” for their accomplishments and contributions to the community. The 2018 class will be honored during a ceremony October 3, 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 Jim Campagna ‘79

For as long as he could remember, all Jim Campagna wanted to do was to work in radio or television, particularly in sports. He grew up in Lyncourt and graduated from North Syracuse High School before coming to OCC to major in Radio/Television (RTV). “I remember the department was on the second floor of the Coulter Library. It wasn’t long after starting that we were doing play-by-play for baseball and basketball games. The faculty empowered us to explore.” That same year, Campagna was named Sports Director at WOCC, the campus radio station. It would be his first of several leadership positions.

Campagna worked hard and took advantage of every opportunity that came his way. When he finally had the chance to be on-air, he was paired up with legendary OCC Professor Vinny Spadafora doing halftime reports of area high-school basketball games. “I took every opportunity I could and got to know all of my professors beyond the confines of the classroom to tap into their knowledge. I’m grateful to this day for the time they dedicated to all of us.” His persistence would continue on at SUNY Oswego where he would complete his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1981.

The Campagna Family: daughter Alyssa ’08, James, his wife Lucille and son Jamie

Throughout the 1980s Campagna established himself as an up and coming professional in local media. He worked multiple positions at WHEN Radio from reporter to weekday news anchor before succeeding Donna Speziale as News Director. After several years at the helm there, Campagna made the switch to television in 1991 and began working as a reporter and producer for WIXT TV, now known as WSYR NewsChannel 9. The move to television coincided with him returning to OCC as an adjunct faculty member. “I got a call from EMC (Electronic Media Communications) department chair Tony Vadala. He asked me if I wanted to teach a sportscasting class. I told him ‘sure’ and asked him when the class started. By 2 p.m. that afternoon I was teaching my first class at OCC!”

Over the next 15 years, Campagna would teach while working at Channel 9, and enjoyed every moment. “It was great, to see the growth of the campus and within the EMC major. The new location and media technology in the Whitney Building set the program apart from any other community colleges. Working with students kept me young and energetic with their questions, ideas and aspirations.”

In 2015 Campagna was named News Director at Channel 9. His new responsibilities forced him to give up his teaching duties but he continues to cherish the time he spent on campus as both a student and faculty member. “The whole RTV department from Secretary Nancy Licata, Professors Catherine Hawkins, Rob Gaunier and Vinny, they all remain very special to me. The fact I am being honored with an Alumni Face award is a testament to their teaching and love for students, which is something I’ve tried to emulate since graduating. I credit much of my success in the broadcasting field to my two years at OCC!”

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