SALISBURY, MD---When Fred Marino first joined Public Radio Delmarva, WSCL 89.5-FM was a fledgling classical music station broadcasting from Salisbury University. Now, as the station celebrates its 20th anniversary, its long-time general manager and classical music supporter says goodbye.
In December, Marino, 68, retires after 17 years. He leaves behind a public radio affiliate that, under his leadership, has experienced a period of tremendous development. This includes the addition of a sister station, WSDL 90.7-FM, nine years ago, and its evolution from a repeater station to one with a popular all-news format. “It’s all been fun,” Marino said. “I’ve stayed because it’s been truly enjoyable.”
After retiring, he plans to move with his wife Marie to a home they purchased in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western Virginia. “I would like to be able to say, ‘Today, I’d like to do this...’ and not have to worry about being at work at 7 a.m.,” he said. “There are things I want to do that I can’t do right now – like stream fishing for trout.”
Marino said he wants to explore national forest trails and spend time in his new furniture shop. He also plans to take up mountain biking – but expects he will miss cycling the flat roads of the Delmarva Peninsula, which he often did with other University bike enthusiasts. He has been an ardent supporter of SU’s Sea Gull Century.
Marino joined WSCL in July 1990, bringing with him 20 years of communications experience from television stations in Illinois and Idaho. He remembers the challenges and surprises of his first year, as well as his first impressions of the station’s eager, involved audience. His first glimpse of this notable listener support came shortly after he started when he was faced with the costly task of getting WSCL back up and running after a lightning strike melted its antennae. He was quickly able to because of audience generosity.
Marino also remembers the worry of undergoing an FCC inspection and Corporation for Public Broadcasting audit during his first year. More recently he’s relished sharing the station’s campus tower with a nesting pair of osprey during spring and summer months.
Under Marino’s direction, the number of Public Radio Delmarva listeners has increased from about 24,000 when he started to more than 41,500 today. “When I first considered coming here, it seemed to be an ideal opportunity to help build a station,” he said. “It was new and growing, but it grew even more than I expected.”
Accomplishments over the years, such as ever-increasing audiences and income from its support base, are all to Marino’s credit, said Bill Bukowski, the stations on-air host and operations coordinator for the past 13 years. “He’s been a great manager and a great boss,” Bukowski said. “One of things I like about him is he’s always fair and his door’s always open.”
Marino is just the sort of person who is easy to be around, said Pam Andrews, program director. “You always knew he was willing to listen to your point of view no matter what, even if he was in total disagreement,” she said. She will remember Marino’s wonderful sense of humor, while Bukowski fondly notes their shared passion for puns – the kind that make people groan. “Whoever comes in next has big shoes to fill,” he said.
A nationwide search is underway for Marino’s replacement. He said his one hope is for the stations to continue to feature all classical music and news and resist switching to other formats as some markets have done. He expects his successor will continue to find support in the large audience on the Delmarva Peninsula.
“I’m going to miss the stations and the staff because we worked so closely together,” Marino said. But since the stations are now streaming online, he said he looks forward to being able to tune in and hear them – anytime he wants.
The Salisbury Symphony Orchestra pays tribute to Marino for his longstanding support of classical music throughout the region at its annual Winter Concert 8 p.m. Saturday, December 9.
For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.