Ithaca College students aid decision by local public broadcast outlet to make programmatic shift


Contributed by Danae Lowman

On February 3, 2019 WSKG Public Media Group will make the first programmatic shift at its two radio stations since launching in 1975.  WSKG-FM (NPR) will convert to all News and WSQX-FM will convert to all Classical Music with some jazz and weekend folk.  Ithaca College students enrolled in a Fall 2016 public relations senior capstone course,  “Lab16,” made key recommendations that are cited as supportive in making the change by the media group serving 21 counties in the Central New York area.

In local press WSKG CEO/President, Greg Catlin states “...WSKG commissioned three studies — by Livingston Associates in 2009, Arthur Cohen in 2015, and Lab 16 out of Ithaca College in 2016 — that indicated WSKG and WSQX should have been single- format stations 10 years ago.”

The agency/capstone course dubbed “Lab16” operates out of the Department of Strategic Communication of the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College and is designed to function as a real world public relations agency to enhance learning in an experiential setting.

The agency simulation of this capstone course instills the requisite knowledge, skills and research experience that young communication professionals need to enter the workforce successfully upon graduation,” says Ann-Marie Adams, Lab16 instructor.

During the Fall of 2016 the agency was tasked to design and develop strategic initiatives that would enhance the brand image and fund development initiatives of the WSKG Public Media Group. The agency developed and delivered a proposal on November 7, 2016  that provided a strategic plan and key research insights that validated the agency’s recommendations. The proposed strategies and tactics were designed to enhance the organization’s brand in the marketplace and elevate awareness in target audience segments that would directly benefit the mission of the public broadcasting outlet.

“We are  thrilled that the growth opportunity that we envisioned two years ago is now a reality for the WSKG Public Media Group.” says former Lab16 staffers Sarah Fielman IC ‘17,  Account Executive with The Brandman Agency, and Natalie Morrison IC ‘17  Public Relations Strategist at D'Addario & Company, Inc.

“As staff members, this experience exposed us to the inner workings of a public relations agency and prepared the entire team of student-staff to work with clients first hand. Today, every former Lab16 staffer is engaged in professional endeavors thanks to the integrated, hands-on educational opportunities provided to us. This includes our work with WSKG and other client work on a local, regional, and national level provided through the Park School,” states Fielman and Morrison.

The public relations senior capstone course is one of five offered in the Department of Strategic Communication at Ithaca College.

The student-staff of Lab16 working with WSKG included the following IC 2017 graduates

●      Deanna Alvarez

●      Jake Ascoli

●      Alexa Clouthier

●      Sarah Fielman

●      Rachel Finkelstein

●      Gabby Gelbien

●      Austin Gomar

●      Ashley Gonzalez

●      Willa Hahn

●      Emma Herschman

●      Tristan Hickey

●      Amanda Lai

●      Leksey Maltzman

●      Natalie Morrison

●      Alec Nevin

●      McKenna Petri

●      Melissa Strauss

PR Lab History (Fall Terms 2016-2018):

For information on the programmatic shift at WSKG Public Media Group go here:

For local press on the programmatic shift go here: