Masciantonio Reminisces on Nine Years at CSI
By Briana DelBuono
General manager Phil Masciantonio of the College of Staten Island’s radio station, WSIA, departs after nine years of service.
Masciantonio worked in a field he was passionate about. His love for non-commercial media stemmed from his own college experience at Shippensburg University in his home state of Pennsylvania where he was a member and program director of its radio station, WYSC.
“What I really like about non-commercial media is that it is not influenced by advertising and profit,” Masciantonio said. “It became clear to me that when that is the goal, the content is secondary.”
After receiving his master’s degree in Television, Radio, and Film at Syracuse University, Masciantonio moved to New Jersey because he knew he wanted to be close to New York City.
He picked up an office job, unsure of what he wanted to do, then doors opened up. Then he finally landed the job that would place him in the position of his studied line of work.
“I saw an ad for the general manager of WSIA at the College of Staten Island and I applied. I was offered the position and started working in June 2006,” he said. “I knew that the experience I had doing radio was the most transformative experience of my life and I wanted to continue that.”
Once hired, Masciantonio got right on the ball. Though the spring and summer months at the college are not the busiest, he wanted to get a jump-start.
He choreographed individual appointments with students who were on the board of directors at the time.
“I got to know them a little bit and then started scheduling regular meetings. The board would meet twice a month,” he explained.
He noticed that the station only played new alternative and loud rock and knew it needed more diversity and suggested that to the students.
Within the first six months of being hired, Masciantonio broadened WSIA’s music spectrum so that it would appeal to more people.
“The students have made a deliberate effort to expand the format to include all kinds of other music styles. They decided to become more inclusive in terms of programming. That’s been the biggest change,” he said.
As head of student publications, a member of the Civility Committee, and on the working group for Communications and Technology, Masciantonio has kept himself busy over the years and it didn’t stop him from taking on even more.
Masciantonio coordinated the Green Dolphin Lounge Café series, which is an open mike night and other kinds of performances on Wednesday evenings, and approached Carol Brower.
And Brower, director of Student Life, combined with the input of Masciantonio, brought the café series to life, discovering that the college needed a place for students to go, hang out, and be productive together.
“There isn’t a permanent space like that on campus so we decided to set up this temporary space,” Masciantonio said of the Green Dolphin Lounge.
“I’ve seen bands form because they met there and students have shared with me that the first time that they ever performed publically was at our open mike night.
As the secretary of the college’s Publications Board, Masciantonio is a non-voting member who gathers the board representatives and schedules meetings and explains their mission statement each year in September.
“The board’s purpose is to allocate the portion of the student activity fee that’s given to publications,” he said.
Though Mascianotonio spent many wonderful years here at CSI, he admitted that it wasn’t always sunshine and daisies, because being in charge of so many groups of people would make it impossible to encounter conflicts every now and then.
“Sometimes there are disagreements over policies or over events that we try to form,” he said. “But letting the students make their own decisions helps them grow.”
One experience that stood out of the rest was when two students at the radio station decided they were going to get married and they came to Masciantonio to break the news to him first.
“Life long friendships and relationships are made here,” he said. “The 30th anniversary for station alumni held in 2011 brought all the members together, which was also a really powerful moment.”
The radio station will be undergoing renovation during the summer and Masciantonio is excited for them and wishes he could be a part of their new set up.
“It will be the first total renovation of our equipment since it was first installed here in 1994,” he said.
“We’re also planning a grand reopening for the fall semester to welcome everyone back in and to check out the new space once it’s ready.”
Masciantonio remembers what it was like when he was first entering the job field and offers advice to students who are just starting out.
“I think that the best thing that students can do is get involved at an organization or publication early on and get experience. Having experience at an organization really helps you to get internships and you need those so it’s easier to get a job.”
Though he started at the radio station with a step in the right direction for his career, Masciantonio ended up with a family. He got to know students on a personal level and saw firsthand as they worked diligently in and outside of the campus environment as well.
“There are a lot of demands and expectations placed on students and for the most part, they all meet these demands.”
He continued, “They have all these other challenges going on outside of here that when they finally graduate, it’s much more meaningful. Students here are really working hard,” he said.
Masciantonio, closing this chapter of his life and beginning a new one at Columbia University’s WKCR as director of broadcasting, is excited that he will be able to continue doing what he loves.
“These jobs don’t come up very often,” he said. He states that he’s leaving the station with so much more than something to put on his resume.
“It’s been a really rewarding experience. I’ve met hundreds of great students over the years that I really developed strong connections with. Students make the radio station a second home. I will miss that.”