The first of my three undergraduate experiences was as a mechanical engineering student at Cornell. One of the most productive things I did there (I didn't go to class much) was working as an studio engineer and DJ at the student radio station, WVBR [Voice of the Big Red]. In 1997, I attended a reunion of WVBR personnel of "my" period, and wrote this little piece to remind everybody who I was.



Biography



I came to Ithaca as a 17-year-old Mech. E. Freshman in the fall of 1961.
Twelve months later, I formally dropped out of school, but during the intervening
year, WVBR played an important role in my life. I was lucky to discover Mike
Goodwin (through the Folk Music Club). Mike was into a lot of good stuff, and
took me under his wing in the Straight's projection booth and at WVBR.
1961 was an important year in the folk music revival - Bob Dylan's first
album came out, and some important "real" folk were discovered and rediscovered
- Doc Watson, Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, Jesse Fuller, to name only
a few, and things were fun and exciting on the folk side at WVBR. I remember
big debates about what constituted "kiddie radio" [as I recall, this involved
any appearance of having fun on the air]. I've never forgotten being tutored
by Ted Osborne and others about how to read a spot convincingly. My most
amazing WVBR experience was finding that I had a fan club in the girl's dorms!
- trouble was, they wanted to talk on the 'phone, not in person. Failing
freshman chemistry and having to re-take it during the summer meant that I
wound up doing two daily shows, one jazz, the other folk, into which I'd
occasionally sneak recordings of my guitar playing under suitable pseudonyms.

I gave up on Cornell, but stuck with Mike Goodwin, music and the movies. After
a couple of years studying filmmaking at CCNY night school, making amateur and
freelance films on the side and fruitlessly searching for work in the film
industry, I got a job as a machinist/instrument maker at Columbia University's
Lamont Geological Observatory. Soon, I dropped out of school for the second time,
and went to sea, spending the next two years runnning the machine shop on a
research vessel, R/V Conrad, as she sailed around the world collecting marine
geological and geophysical data. During this period I personally detonated at
least fifty tons of WWII-surplus explosives, doing seismic refraction work.
Two years at sea was enough, so I quit and went to Boulder to study geophysics
at the University of Colorado. Motivation and study habits had changed, and I
wound up with a Phi Beta Kappa and acceptance to graduate school back at Lamont.
In relatively short order, I accumulated two master's degrees and a PhD in marine
geophysics. I worked for Gulf Oil until I had enough money for the down payment
on the house I now live in. About then, Gulf cratered, and I went back to Lamont,
where I work today, 100% on soft money, writing proposals which are occasionally
funded, going to sea to collect the data (I'm up to five or six years total time
on boats by now) then coming home to process, make pictures, and write journal
articles. I've published the usual dozens of papers, chapters, abstracts, etc,
that go into making up the usual boring scientific CV, which I'll omit.

I married Betti, who I met in physics class at Boulder, and we had two great
children, now [2005] 20 and 22 years of age. I finally came to my senses and got divorced in 1999, and everybody's much happier now. I formed a bluegrass/ragtime/blues band during
my grad school days, and we're still playing professionally (but seldom) at local
venues. Computers and software are very important at work; Columbia sells licenses
to a big package I wrote for interactive analysis and interpretation of marine
seismic data. We also have four PCs at home - one for each member of the family.
Friendship with Mr. Goodwin continues stronger than ever, and we manage to visit
one another several times a year. I'm still riding old motorcycles, fixing my
own cars, house, electrical and plumbing systems - good skills to keep as a
hedge against declining science funding by NSF and ONR. - and I can still say:
"This is WVBR and WVBR-FM, serving Ithaca and the central finger lakes region"
in a rich, deep voice.