New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall

By Jackson Cote

Collegian File Photo

After the removal of its advisor Glenn Siegel over two years ago, the University of Massachusetts’ student and community radio station WMUA now has the role of advisor and mentor filled. Carson Cornelius-Burke, general manager of WUEV radio at the University of Evansville, Indiana, is now serving as the student broadcast media director at UMass, named to the position on June 1.

Cornelius-Burke brings a background of work at college radio stations to the position, currently working at WUEV and previously as the general manager of the University of Missouri radio station KCOU as an undergraduate.

While Cornelius-Burke will primarily work with WMUA in his new position, he said one of his larger goals will be making students as well-rounded in the business of broadcast media as they can be, stressing the importance of versatility in the work place.

“You make yourself so much more potentially employable and more versatile, just by being able to do all different types of things at the station,” Cornelius-Burke said, who as an undergraduate held a variety of positions at his campus radio station, ranging from talk show host to reporting on news and sports.

Now as broadcast media director, Cornelius-Burke said he hopes to bridge the gap between the students working at WMUA and the UMass administration. He also said he wants to act as a guiding hand for students at WMUA.

“Goal wise, I think the biggest thing for us is just making sure that we continue to keep WMUA on solid footing and making sure that students are able to come and find a place where they are comfortable and excited and able to learn something new but also have a lot of fun,” Cornelius-Burke said.

For Joshua McCawley, a UMass senior and general manager at WMUA, having Cornelius-Burke bridge the gap between the administration and WMUA’s student staff is also an important issue.

“The great thing and something we haven’t had for the past two years is an advisor who has our back, who kind of services as the middle man in terms of communication between us and some of the other departments that we have to work with at UMass,” McCawley said.

While McCawley noted not having an advisor gave staff at WMUA more freedom in their jobs, he added, “it also made things more difficult at the end when we found out things we had done wrong or things we weren’t allowed to do, and we had to go back and fix things and change things.”

Senior and Student Government Association Vice President Lily Wallace said, “As someone who has worked for WMUA for a few years and been a radio deejay over there, I’ve seen how hectic it kind of got without an advisor, and I think it’s great the University is taking the time to put someone in that position finally.”

Because WMUA is an agency of the SGA, Wallace was one of a select few who sat down to interview the candidates for the position of broadcast media director to determine whether or not they would fit the requirements for the position.

According to Wallace, many of the questions during the interviewing process revolved around how to transition WMUA away from a community-based radio station to a more student-centered radio station.

How to balance allowing students to experiment at WMUA, while also creating quality content, was another one of her concerns.

“For the SGA in particular, the point of having this radio station is it’s a learning lab. It’s a place for students to come and try something that they would never really get access too,” Wallace said.

Wallace hopes Cornelius-Burke will also be able to increase engagement and be a resource to the students.

“It’ll be difficult to build up that trust again in an advisor position after students had been left to their devices for so long,” Wallace said in regards to the removal of WMUA’s advisor two years ago.

For both Wallace and McCawley, however, Cornelius-Burke’s young age, 23, is an important factor in the relationship between Cornelius-Burke and the WMUA staff.

“Having someone as close in age to us as Carson is just going to be beneficial in cultivating that relationship and cultivating that trust and figuring out exactly how to work together,” McCawley said.

“I’m excited to see someone so young come into this position and be able to bring what he’s bringing from a different university,” Wallace said. “We’re cautiously anticipating what moving forward in the next chapter of WMUA’s existence looks like.”

“It’s nice to get some fresh eyes,” she added.

Jackson Cote can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @jackson_k_cote.