WITR’s new Studio X takes RIT radio to next level

Student Spotlight
Joe Makowski, fourth-year applied networking and systems administration student

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A. Sue Weisler

Joe Makowski, fourth-year applied networking and systems administration student and general manager of WITR 89.7, DJs in the radio station’s brand new Studio X.

Joe Makowski is a fourth-year applied networking and systems administration student and Rochester native. In addition to his schoolwork, Makowski is the general manager of RIT’s student-run radio station, WITR-FM (89.7). Last month, WITR opened its new studio in the Student Alumni Union. The station will be hosting its second annual radiothon on April 17.

Question: What brought you to RIT?
Answer: RIT is really visible in the Rochester area, so it felt natural to include it in the list of schools I applied to. It was the clear choice once I began exploring the majors that were available.

Q: Why did you choose to major in applied networking and systems administration?
A: I thought I wanted to be a software engineer, but I quickly realized that I hated coding. Then someone mentioned to me that it was easy to get started with Linux operating systems. I starting looking into it and I ultimately discovered a technology and a community that I wanted to become a part of.

Q: What is WITR’s Studio X?
A: Studio X is a state-of-the-art broadcast studio that we built in order to take our product to the next level. It’s the new home for all of our output on FM radio and streaming media. Blueprints were drawn around the time I became the general manager and about a year later we had raised the funding we needed to begin construction. The architectural team wrapped up its work during the January intersession and we immediately began installing equipment. It officially went live last month.

Q: How did you become the general manager of WITR?
A: I was a DJ on WBER-FM, which is a Penfield, N.Y. station, in high school, so I had some experience behind the microphone by the time I got to RIT. Once I joined, I found that all I wanted to do was hang out at WITR and I guess I just never left. The other students nominated and then elected me to serve as the general manager in 2013. I’m wrapping up my second term now.

Q: How was WITR started?
A: RIT’s radio history predates the Henrietta campus and very few people remain that can offer any insight into those days. That said, WITR as we know it really began in the early 1970s when we began branding ourselves as “Modern Music and More.” We’ve been broadcasting on FM 89.7 since 1975 and have been known as “The Pulse of Music” since 2010. For nearly all of our history we have been focused on niche pop music, RIT hockey and news relevant to those topics.

Q: What are you most excited for about graduation?
A: I’ll be earning real money without tuition hanging over my head. That makes me smile just thinking about it.

Q: Is there anything you wish you could have done during your time on campus?
A: I really wish I could have attended more hockey games. I’m currently WITR’s most senior hockey board operator, so I haven’t really had time to be a regular fan.

Derrick Hunt compiles “Student Spotlights” for University News. Contact him at djh9758@rit.edu with suggestions.