Bringing Background Music To the Fore: The Music of Siek

What are students hearing while they eat, study, and socialize in the Siek Campus Center?

Muzak Holdings LLC. has been contracted by the FSA since the Fall 2006 semester to provide background music in the campus center for $750 per academic year.

“This music isn’t for us. This music is not preferences that we like,” said the FSA Director Ann Carrozza. “Occasionally we alter the music to things like smooth jazz, blues and soul to expose students.”

According to Carrozza, the majority of stations played in the campus center during peak hours are Hot FM, 78&9, 80’s Hits, Backpages and FM1.

Christopher Peer, individual studies major, said, “Sometimes it’s good but not very predictable. When they play country or pop I don’t really listen.”

Occasionally, stations such as “Roadhouse,” which plays classic country, classic rock and blues, are left on in the morning. Carrozza changes the campus center music to her personal preferences in the evening, when there is little traffic in the building.

“I don’t really mind the music here. It’s not horrible,” said individual studies major Alex Hard. “In certain departments in some places like Price Chopper, I can barely hear myself talk or think. It’s godawful.”

“Once in a while [students] may complain about whether [the music] is too high or too low,” said Carrozza. According to her, music is often lowered during peak lunch hours in the campus center to not “drown out conversations.”

Music in the campus center operates on a DOD SR430 stereo equalizer connected to a ISA300Ti Power Amplifier from QSC Audio Products, LLC.  Four Klipsch Audio Technologies speakers are located in the cafeteria, one speaker is located both in the serving area and the Naked Pear Cafe

Carrozza said that members of the FSA urged for a speaker in the office so staff would be able to hear the music without leaving the office.

“If we have a really nasty thunderstorm, [the music] will go out,” Carrozza said. The most recent occurrence of a satellite disconnection was in July.

Music volume is altered during campus events and sometimes muted altogether for events such as Guitar Fest. During the 2014 Fall orientation, campus center music was changed to soft to appeal to parents. Before the post-graduation was moved to the student pavilion two years ago, smooth jazz was played at the campus center for the event.

“They have a good cross section of music that can be played in a business section which is what I consider Hudson Valley,” Carrozza said about censorship of Muzak stations, “We wanted something that did not have lyrics that were objectionable.”

“The music isn’t bad but it isn’t good. It would be a nice change if we could see students have control of what we listen to,” said Emma Smith, liberal arts major.

Before Muzak, the Hudson Valley Radio Club had reign over the Campus Center airwaves. Radio Club was established in the early 60s and took a brief retirement in the 90s due to airing explicit content.

The club was revived in 2003, advised by adjunct professor Rachel Bornn. For nine years after the club’s revival, the club had to endure a long series of problems with the Student Senate. “They tried to cut all of our funding and we were just left fighting to survive,” said Bornn.

After the campus center was completed in 2006, Bornn noted that she had meetings with Carrozza to allow WHVC to again have reign over the campus centers airwaves, but negotiations were ultimately declined.

According, to Jason Laz, broadcast communications major, former president of Amateur Radio Club, and chamber broadcast coordinator at the state assembly, although the administration pushed for the presence of the club to remain on campus, “the Student Senate unfortunately felt differently.”

“There was nothing having to do with broadcasting on campus outside of going to class. It was a huge plus for Broadcast [Communications] majors,” said Laz. Along with Amateur Radio Club, the Broadcast Communications program was approved for deactivation by SUNY in June of this year.

Federal Communications Commission licensing requirement changes costing $35,000 drove a nail into the coffin of WHVC radio.

Background music is a multimillion dollar industry. Muzak Holdings LLC. has been a subsidiary branch of Mood Media Corporation’s regional franchise, Functional Communications Corporation since Mood bought the background music company in 2011 for $345 million.

Subsidiaries for Mood Media have grown since the company bought the BIS Group in June,DMX in March,  and Technomedia and GoConvergence in December, all in 2012

Rachel Bornn is currently an adviser to the Hudsonian.


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