Kevin Stiner | March 03, 2022
Finding Their Voices - A Path to the Hall of Fame
Two prominent local radio personalities share how their time at the student radio station launched their careers. Both will be inducted into its Hall of Fame this spring.
Earning a degree for future employment is the most common goal of students when they enroll in college, but what happens if you have yet to find your calling? That is where both Tariq Spence ’99 and Sandy (Cutarella) Waters ’98 found themselves in the mid-1990s as SUNY Brockport students.
With limited conviction towards their original majors, Waters and Spence gravitated towards WBSU, the student run radio station now referred to as 89.1 The Point. The station provided ample learning and working experiences that ultimately led to fulfilling careers in radio.
“Both have etched out 20-plus year careers impacting their respective audiences; Sandy in her hometown and Tariq in his adopted home,” said Warren Kozireski ’82, General Manager of 89.1 The Point. “From getting involved at the radio station right away as freshmen to leadership positions managing their peers to internships and then both launching their professional careers immediately after graduation, both have had a huge part in making Brockport and our program look good.”
Waters and Spence developed their radio voices at the college station, which proved to be a catalyst to future success as they both are longstanding hosts of morning shows in the Rochester market. On April 2, both will be inducted along with 10 others as part of the WBSU Hall of Fame class of 2022. Tickets are available for the event.
Additional 2022 WBSU Hall of Fame Inductees
|Paul Barsky ’78||David Cohen ’96||Eric Finkelstein ’98||Harry Goldberg ’81||David Kalmowitz ’82|
|Dave Kane ’79||Charlie Logan ’79||Pat O’Keefe ’03||Robert Riggio ’80||Gerald Ziobro ’70|
“Both continue to give back as guest speakers in classes or radio station meetings along with mentoring interns. They never forgot where they came from.”
Tariq Spence – Class of 1999
Leaving New York City as a self-described shy young man, Spence knew he wanted to step out of his comfort zone to make new friends. During orientation he sought a tour of WBSU and although the tour ended quickly, the impact was felt for a lifetime.
“The informational session kind of sold me,” said Spence, who is also a featured analyst on The Press Box, a locally televised sports show. “I figured I could get out of my comfort zone and learn how to do sports broadcasting.”
Spence’s fandom for New York sports expanded to include the Golden Eagles. He worked his way up the ranks and earned positions calling Brockport baseball, basketball, and football games, not to mention various high school events in the local area.
While Spence gained confidence in covering sports, he added deejaying responsibilities to his repertoire so he would gain more experience on the mic.
“Brockport was a great foundation for the things you were going to learn in the real world. I had a leg up on all the other interns because I could handle running a board because it was the same equipment at Brockport.”
Tariq Spence ’99
“Brockport had a flux of new cutting-edge equipment that I didn’t realize how cutting edge it was until I started interning at WDKX and saw the same equipment,” explained Spence. “Brockport was a great foundation for the things you were going to learn in the real world. I had a leg up on all the other interns because I could handle running a board because it was the same equipment at Brockport.”
The radio station was an educational oasis as Spence soaked in all that he could, even deciding to stay over the summer rather than return home to the Bronx. The hard work and dedication paid off when 103.9 WDKX offered him a full-time job out of college.
“WDKX took a chance on me and brought me in at an entry level position,” shared Spence. “I took that opportunity and kept growing with it. I had a little bit of the toe in the door, then it turned into a foot, then a leg, you know what I mean and then the station gave me a lot more opportunities to grow.”
Spence has worked for nearly half of WDKX’s broadcasting history that began in 1974 and he has been an integral part of the station’s popular Wake Up Club and Water Cooler shows. His on-air duties included interviewing celebrities, covering sports, setting playlists, and breaking news for the community.
“I look back on those four years of college as some of the most pivotal moments in my life,” expressed Spence. “I was very much an introvert. I was very shy and full of anxiety. To be a part of the Hall of Fame is just amazing. Those years were really important to me and the years at WBSU led to WDKX.”
Sandy Waters – Class of 1998
As a kid Waters wanted to be a teacher. That idea changed to a news anchor by the time she arrived at Brockport’s campus. And changed again as a freshman when a friend from high school pulled her into the WBSU studios for a tour.
“I fell in love with radio,” said Waters, who is part of the longest running morning show ensemble in Rochester – Spezzano and Sandy. “It was totally because of the college radio station that I am doing what I am today. It was not even in my world at all…even thinking radio.”
As she progressed through college, she thought she would work on the sales side of radio, but the station gave her a vast set of broadcasting skills. Waters utilized those talents when she was interning at 98PXY in Rochester.
“I looked like the star intern because they didn’t even have to teach me,” shared Waters, who is also the podcast host of Seven Figures – Smart Money Strategies for Women. “I looked good because we had the opportunity to explore every aspect of the station when you’re working at The Point.
“I had some knowledge about on-air, so I was running syndicated programming and one day they asked whether I wanted to do the weather in between programming so I did. And then the morning gig opened up. Everyone said you can do on-air and then move to sales, but you can’t go the other way, so they said try on-air and see if you like it.”
Waters loves her on-air job and has been broadcasting for more than two decades. Since 2014, 98.9 The Breakfast Buzz morning show has been voiced by Spezzano and Sandy, after the duos 15 years on the morning show for 98PXY. In 2010, Waters was voted the “Best Radio Personality (Female)” in City Newspaper’s “Best of Rochester” awards.
“The minute you get finances off your shoulders as far as a stressor it’s the most amazing and wonderful feeling,” Waters said. “It’s not about making a lot of money, it’s about what you do with it that makes all the difference. That’s why I started the podcast.” Water’s podcast launched in the spring of 2017 and is described on the Buzz’s website as one of the fastest growing podcasts in Western New York.
WBSU Hall of Fame Dinner and Ceremony
Join us on Saturday, April 2 at 5:30 pm in the New York Room of Cooper Hall as 12 honorees will be inducted into the WBSU Hall of Fame.