The Slippery Rock University Media Hall of Fame inducted its fourth round of alumni as part of homecoming festivities on Friday, Oct. 11.
The event this year had a specific focus on “past, present and future” as Jim Aronson, current chair of the SRU Radio Alumni Committee, will hand off the responsibilities of hosting the Media Hall of Fame festivities to the SRU communications department.
Alongside co-host Morgan Koziar, a 2018 SRU graduate and WTAJ-TV writer, producer and anchorwoman, Aronson led a ceremony full of laughs, tears and hopes for the future of SRU’s communication graduates.
The full livestream of the event can be found on WSRU-TV News’s YouTube page.
This year, 10 SRU alumni were inducted into the prestigious Media Hall of Fame. Here are the inductees:
1. Logan Snyder (’19), Mike McHugh Undergraduate Award
Logan Snyder was quick to get involved in WSRU-TV News as an undergraduate student. However, her college journey began long before she arrived at SRU as a digital media production major.
Snyder transferred from Robert Morris University after sustaining a sports injury. After transferring, she immediately joined WSRU-TV News, covering sports on campus and producing multimedia content for both WSRU-TV News and The Rocket.
“As soon as I met Logan, I knew she was not messing around,” said Brittany Fleming, assistant professor of communication and advisor to WSRU-TV News and The Rocket.
Snyder created and became the executive producer for “Around the Rock Sports,” a biweekly show livestreamed through WSRU-TV News in August 2017. She also served as the sports multimedia coordinator on The Rocket during her senior year.
While at SRU, Snyder also completed internships with the Pittsburgh Penguins and SRU Athletic Communication Office and served as a student ambassador for the Sustainable Enterprise Accelerator.
In March, Snyder won first place in the video editing category of the National Broadcasting Society Media Competition for her work at the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Currently, Snyder is an intern for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Snyder was quick to credit the SRU communication faculty, especially Fleming and Nick Artman, for all she had learned as a student.
“I’ve worked with two Pittsburgh sports teams because of everything that I learned from you guys, and I’m so, so grateful, so thank you for everything,” Snyder said. “I’m so grateful I was able to leave any kind of lasting impression on you guys and you felt I was deserving of this award.”
2. Thomas Fabian (’19), Mike McHugh Undergraduate Award
Whenever Tom Fabian first met Brittany Fleming, assistant professor of communication and advisor to WSRU-TV News and The Rocket, they told her they wanted to be a YouTuber. Little did Fleming know at the time, but WSRU-TV News would eventually switch to a livestream system through YouTube and Facebook thanks to Fabian’s leadership.
“We’re all YouTubers, and Tom taught me a lot,” Fleming said.
Fabian, who graduated with a degree in digital media production, was one of two recipients of the Mike McHugh Undergraduate Award, an award named after a former instructor in the SRU communication department in the early 1980s.
During their time at SRU, Fabian served as president of WSRU-TV News, multimedia editor of The Rocket, executive and technical director of “Around The Rock,” station manager of the Maltby TV studio and an officer of Lambda Pi Eta and Film Society.
“He’s only one person, I never cloned him,” Fleming joked.
After Fabian, the self-proclaimed “video kid” in high school, arrived in SRU’s communication department, they were quick to realize that the department “is truly a family.”
“Over the years, I began to do everything I could possibly do to take care of this family,” Fabian said.
Fabian also received first place in the video opener category in the National Broadcasting Society media competition in March 2019 for the “Around The Rock” program opener.
Following their internship this past summer, Fabian was hired as a creative producer at WTOV in Steubenville, Ohio.
3. Jim Trdinich (’86), Lifetime Achievement Award
Trdinich’s opening on his radio show on WRCK (audio clip courtesy of Greg Brown).
Jim Trdinich, or “Jimmy T” from his days at the WRCK radio station, has worked in Major League Baseball (MLB) for over 30 years.
Trdinich went on to gain an internship with the Pirates in 1985. After graduating that following year, Trdinich moved to New York City from 1987-1989 to work with MLB’s National League.
Trdinich returned back to his hometown team in 1989 as the assistant director of media relations for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Two years later, he was promoted to director of baseball communications for the Bucs, the role he still holds today.
“He is as good now at his position as he was when he first started, perhaps even better,” Greg Brown, the well known play-by-play announcer for the Pittsburgh Pirates, said during Trdinich’s induction into the Media Hall of Fame. “He is as passionate, just as ethusiastic, just as loyal to the Pirates at his was when he first interned for the team back in 1985.”
Trdinich is proud of his position at the Pirates, a position that is shared by only 30 people in the world.
“My worst days are even good days,” Trdinich said.
From his 33 years (including seven winning seasons) with the Bucs, Trdinich received the MLB”S Robert O. Fishel Award for Public Relations Excellence in 2011.
A former Patterson Hall resident, Trdinich also covered women’s gymnastics for The Rocket.
4. Jay Doudna (’72), Jim Aronson Founders Award
Although Jay “Jaybird” Doudna was a Slippery Rock State College student before the college had a communication department, his musical knowledge and talent allowed him to thrive at the radio station.
This year, Doudna is a recipient of the Jim Aronson Founders Award, which honors a person who was instrumental in the Media Hall of Fame planning process.
Doudna was inducted by Terry Sullivan, general manager of WNFT from 1971-72, who said the former music and program director brought a unique energy to the station.
“Jay, to this day, knows more about any music genre than I’ve ever known anyone,” Sullivan said. “Once he’s committed to a project, there is no stopping him, and there never is any stopping him.”
Doudna has a visual impairment and said that no one at the radio station treated him differently.
“They never said, ‘You can’t do that,'” Doudna said. “They accepted me as a peer, so that’s why it worked.”
Doudna graduated in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education: speech. After graduation, Doudna established the first Radio Reading Service in Pennsylvania, assisted in the launch of the Radio Information Center for the Blind in Philadelphia and served on the board of the International Association of Audio Information Services.
Doudna is retired and resides in Oklahoma, where he is actively involved with the Society for the Blind.
5. Bill McChain (’74)
Bill McChain started his undergraduate career at nearby Geneva College in Beaver Falls as a business administration major. After transferring to Slippery Rock State College, he met his group of “brothers,” including Terry Sullivan, who inducted him into the Media Hall of Fame.
“This is an emotional night for me,” McChain said. “Those guys back there are my brothers. I never had brothers, but they’re something.”
During his time at Slippery Rock, McChain was heavily involved in WNFT and served as general manager during his final year at The Rock.
McChain’s career in the sports broadcasting industry ranges from North Carolina to Virginia. He hosted sports talk shows, including one on WAQS in Charlotte, North Carolina and served as the public address announcer for Virginia Tech basketball and football games for two decades.
McChain also credited his “hall of fame” wife, Darlinda, who he meet in Naples, Florida after graduation, with his success.
“I’ll always treasure my days here at Slippery Rock and this media award that’s very special to me, always will be,” McChain said.
6. Vicki Hoover (’81)
The former music director at WNFT met one of her lifelong friends, fellow inductee Liz Herbert Archambault, in 1977. While the two hung out in different groups to start, their connections at WNFT led to not only their own Herbert-Hoover radio show, but also a 42-year friendship.
“When Vicki was on the air, she always smiled,” Archambault said. “Vicki has the natural ability of sounding natural.”
Hoover served as an on-air personality for a variety of radio and television stations from Pittsburgh to Texas. She cofounded the Women’s Referral Exchange Network while working at the York County Commerce.
She is currently employed at Doceo Companies as a client service specialist and was an account manager at the Xerox Corporation.
Hoover was also encouraged for the future of the communications field, as she just learned about SRU’s converged journalism major from current SRU students that evening, while also optimistic for the same forms of media she grew to master in her professional career.
“Radio is alive and well,” Hoover said.
7. Liz Herbert Archambault (’80)
Liz Herbert Archambault loves her disco music. In fact, she and her close friend, fellow inductee Vicki Hoover, were quick to disagree on their music choices, including on their drive over to the Hall of Fame ceremony.
As the fourth and youngest child in her family to go to college, Archambault’s work with the radio station WNFT was marked by her time as program director. Despite how Hoover and other radio station students felt about her favorite genre, Hoover said Archambault always created an interesting show.
“Liz always had an entertaining show,” Hoover said. “She put her heart into everything she did at the station.”
“She took her responsibilities very seriously and she was disciplined, much more than me, always, and confident and very practical,” Hoover said.
Archambault was the first intern at KDKA TV. She also worked as a writer and producer for WPCQ and Hallmark Advertising.
Now retired, Archambault works as a preschool teacher and behavioral therapist for children.
“My overall college experience and experience at WNFT provided me the foundation to obtain wonderful positions in the radio and television and advertising world,” Archambault said. “Now in my retirement years, it’s very nice to look back on.”
8. Lori Cuffari (’85)
Joe Cuffari met his future wife, Lori, in 1982, as the duo both joined the marching band for four years: she was a Rocklette and he was a percussionist. The Cuffaris would be married for 31 years.
The late Lori Cuffari was diagnosed with an incurable and aggressive form of thyroid cancer in 2008. Joe Cuffari and their daughter accepted the award on Lori’s behalf.
Joe Cuffari described his wife as beautiful, both in her appearance and her personality.
“Compassionate and caring, fun to be around, her inner beauty was so much more attractive than her appearance, but she had both,” Joe Cuffari said.
Joe Cuffari said his late wife would have been humbled by the opportunity and “worked the room” to meet all of the event attendees.
“Her place, I believe, as a Slippery Rock University Media Hall of Famer is secure,” Joe Cuffari said.
Lori Cuffari worked in advertising sales and marketing for over 30 years at Home News, Asbury Park Press and MediaMax Network. She earned several awards through the New Jersey Press Association.
9. Charlie Slaight (’83)
In college, Charlie Slaight came into his own as more of a “doer than a thinker.” The advertising and sales management expert got involved with campus radio station and The Rocket.
“Fortunately for me, there were great mentors along the way,” Slaight said. “Slippery Rock was the start of it all.”
Slaight’s career in cable television advertising and sales management spans more than 35 years across many states, including Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and New York.
His career kicked off in Rochester, New York with his internship in the advertising department.
“The path for his future was set,” said Paul Paterra, a previous Hall of Fame inductee who inducted Slaight Friday night. “His plan all along was to make things better for his family and everyone around him. Each spot along the way has been a measure of doing just that.”
Slaight credits much of his motivation and success to accomplish his goals each day to his wife, Debby and his family.
“Every day is an opportunity, an opportunity to take action, to do something that when you have that accomplishment, there’s no greater feeling than that sense of accomplishment,” Slaight said.
10. Jacki Previni-Muller (’83)
Jacki Muller was quick to call SRU her home, especially since she just moved back into town after sending her children off to college.
Jacki Muller, the senior director of communications at neighboring Grove City College, was inducted into the Media Hall of Fame by her daughter Sophia, a sophomore social work major.
“My mom is my standard of excellence, always showing me how important it is to think critically,” Sophia Muller said. “To me, she’s the definition of professionalism, delivering on her promises, knowing what needs to be done and presenting herself with dignity and grace and finishing with her best effort no matter how difficult the task.”
Jacki Muller originally thought she would become a physical education teacher. However, her “A” in a journalism class changed her entire career path.
“That class for me ignited a true passion that has lasted an entire career, and for that experience here at Slippery Rock, I’ll always be grateful,” Jacki Muller said.
Jacki Muller gave three pieces of advice for the future generation of communication professionals: build networks, learn to write and use “we” instead of “I” language.
Jacki Muller went on to become the editor-in-chief of The Rocket during her time at Slippery Rock. Thoughout the next three decades, her work in media and public relations was featured on “The Today Show,” “CNN,” 60 Minutes,” NBC Nightly News,” The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The New York Times and The Atlantic