January 17, 2013

Olbermann ’79 Donation Funds New Building for WVBR

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Correction appended

Keith Olbermann ’79 has given a donation of an unspecified amount to WVBR-FM, the student-run radio station at Cornell, that will allow it to move to a larger building in Collegetown, according to WVBR president Drew Endick ’14.

The radio station –– which is currently located more than a mile from campus –– purchased a house on East Buffalo Street this year to use as its headquarters. At a WVBR alumni dinner in New York City on Jan. 10, Olbermann –– a political commentator who has hosted shows on MSNBC and Current TV –– presented the organization with a check that will allow its members to partially fund the new, more convenient location.

“We picked the house because we know we wanted to own something and be close to students,” Endick said. “[At the old station], if you didn’t have a car, it wasn’t like you could just get to the station whenever you needed to be on the air.”

It has not been revealed how much money Olbermann –– who worked as WVBR’s sports director while he attended Cornell –– donated to the station.

The donation was indispensable to the station, which plans to relocate to East Buffalo Street within the next year, according to Endick.

“We likely wouldn’t have been able to move into the house without Keith,” he said.

The new location of East Buffalo Street measures about 2,500 square feet –– which is “significantly” larger than WVBR’s current headquarters, Endick said. The increased space will include a multimedia center that will allow WVBR to train its staff in video production and web design.

“We will have more production and multimedia editing space that we don’t have in our current studios,” Endick said.

The station will also be able to house new studios for live air broadcasts as well as live performance space for concerts and recordings for student and local bands.

“We’ll be able to expand in ways we haven’t in the old location,” Endick said.

Endick said Olbermann –– who has previously made several large donations to WVBR –– is a supportive alumnus and has visited the station several times during trips to Cornell.

“Keith is obviously very successful and attributes a lot of his success to WVBR,” Endick said. “He knows it’s a great training ground for students who want to enter the media and he wanted to see it expand.”

The new station will be called Olbermann-Corneliess Studios, named for Olbermann’s father Theodore and a deceased friend of Olbermann’s, former WVBR program director Glenn Corneliess ’79.

“The entire building is to commemorate what Glenn did for the station and what’s Glenn’s image for the station was,” Endick said.

Endick said members of WVBR –– particularly younger students who will spend most of their time at Cornell working at the new location –– are “extremely excited” about the donation.

“Everyone is so happy and so thankful,” Endick said. “Everyone thinks [Olbermann is] the best person in the world right now.”

Correction: A previous version of this story inaccurately stated that Keith Olbermann ’79 gave the donation to WVBR on the condition that he receive naming rights to WVBR’s new building. In fact, Olbermann received naming rights because WVBR stipulated that donations over a certain amount would grant the benefactor these rights. Additionally, a previous version of this story incorrectly quoted a report in The Hollywood Reporter as saying that WVBR had reduced its fundraising goal for the building from $935,000 to $555,081. In fact, WVBR’s fundraising goal remains at $935,000.

Original Author: Kerry Close