Save the Pine Bush

Rezsin Adams was given the boot at WRPI. Ridiculous.

Read this article printed in about Rezsin on Thursday, October 4, 2007:

Are you angry that WRPI gave Rezsin the boot? Call them at 518-276-6248 or email their staff at

Signed Off

WRPI gives another community member the boot

Reszin Adams had made a home for herself on the airwaves of the Capital Region. For more than 15 years, the reliable, die-hard volunteer broadcaster was a staple of WRPI, always filling in whenever possible, but never straying from her well-worn format: reading choice articles from progressive and public-affairs periodicals. This Friday, however, after Democracy Now! signs off, it won’t be Adams who nuzzles up to the mic. The Albany-based octogenarian activist has been removed permanently from her position as a DJ at WRPI by the student executive committee, or E-comm, that oversees the station.

Owned by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and operated by the university’s students, WRPI has provided a powerful tool to the community for decades, allowing people unaffiliated with RPI access to its 10,000 watts of FM airwaves. This fostered a “communiversity” of students and community members sharing the responsibilities for running the station. A boon for WRPI, as community members such as Adams, always eager to get on the air, have been willing to take up the time slots that are unattractive to students—morning hours, during summer breaks—this has helped ensure that the station could meet its FCC mandated time requirements. (The station must broadcast a set minimum number of hours to meet federal regulations; if it fails to meet this minimum, it could be found an unfit occupant of the public airwaves and have its license stripped.)

Yet, over the past two years, many community members have complained that the current members of the E-comm have placed little value on the communiversity aspect of WRPI, working instead to purge the station of its longtime contributors. Adams is just one in a string of community DJs who have been removed from their on-air positions for a variety of reasons.

In Adams case, she said, she was removed for a clerical error.

“There had been a test of the emergency broadcast system,” she said. It was 12:30 and she was just about to leave. The next DJ was already in the studio. Adams was supposed to fill out specific information about the test in a special log. In a hurry, and unable to locate this particular log, she instead entered the information in the daily log book.

“So it was sort of a half-mistake,” said Adams, “but it was a mistake.”

As the E-comm would remind her at its routine meeting last Friday, there was no room for Adams to even make even a “half-mistake.” Adams had been placed on probation last spring, due to “a miscommunication” that led to her being removed from the air for a week. When the E-comm decided to allow her back on, it was with the stipulation that if she ever made another mistake she would be removed permanently. (Members of the E-comm refused to comment for this article.)

“When I went before the E-comm board last Friday they said, ‘Well, you know what the rule was.’ I didn’t really argue with them,” she said. “I have discovered that everybody tends to make small mistakes, and I really don’t think anything I have done really warrants doing taking this kind of drastic measure, but, it is OK. I didn’t really want to continue with this sort of sword hanging over my head.”

When Adams started out at WRPI, the station aired little in the way of public affairs, she said. There was Peace Radio, which played tapes of Noam Chomsky and Helen Caldicott. “We used to gather at somebody’s house on Sunday night and listen, because there wasn’t any other place where we could hear that except Sunday night on WRPI,” she reminisced.

When she decided to try her hand at DJing, she wanted to focus on public affairs, but certainly didn’t feel qualified to talk for two hours. And she had no idea how to get a hold of pre-recorded interviews. This led to her adopting the format she would keep for 15 years: reading.

“I had never read at all aloud. I had never been in any plays or anything like that. But I thought that this is something I can do. And it interests me to do this. I have done it all these many years. I have had a very interesting many years,” she said. “Very unexpected and very interesting.”

As for getting booted from the station, she claimed it isn’t that big of a deal.

“This is, in many ways, kind of trivial,” she said. “But is it a symptom of the times? Maybe. I don’t know. Maybe. I don’t know. That’s something worrisome. On the surface, it seems to me pretty trivial. But there may be some underlying issues that are not so trivial. So let’s see what happens.”

—Chet Hardin