Then and Now
WMUC'ers Find Love in the Big Apple
John Charles Ford and Sandra Sollod in the 1960s.
By Leslie Stimson
It could only have been fate. Charlie Ford and Sandra Sollod (Radio-TV '64) were good friends who hung around together at WMUC back in the 1960s. They graduated and eventually drifted apart. Ten years later, they found each other by accident in New York City. They married on June 11, 1994.
On their wedding day, they pulled out a Terrapin yearbook and reminisced. Their former University of Maryland advisor, Dr. Tom Aylward, was among the guests. They credit him for playing Cupid.
"Charlie and I had always been good friends," said Sandra, who now goes by Sandra Sollod Poster. "Tom asked me if I had ever thought about me and Charlie in a different way. And I said, 'Charlie is like a cousin or a neighbor.' But, after that I began to think of him romantically. Of course, unbeknownst to me, he was putting the same idea into Charlie's head."
Charlie and Sandra's long, long friendship-turned-courtship began at the University of Maryland in 1960. "Sandy was a nice Orthodox Jewish girl from Baltimore and I was a good Irish Catholic from Chevy Chase," said Charlie. "So, it was a natural for us to be friends in 1960," he joked. Campus regulations were more strict in the early 60's. For example, women were not allowed to wear shorts or slacks on campus. The dorms had curfews. And, of course, there were no co-ed dorms. So it was in this atmosphere that Charlie and Sandy's friendship began.
They both loved the theater and were members of the campus Flying Follies. They saw working at WMUC as an outlet for their theatrical training and also discovered a budding love of broadcasting. Sandy hosted an hour-long show tune program, while Charlie had a top-40 program. Sandy is perhaps best known, however, for being "Miss Midnight," the mysterious, provocative woman whose five minutes were the last thing played on WMUC (heard in the dorms and dining hall then) each weeknight. "I would change my voice from the show-tune program to be Miss Midnight and nobody knew it was me," said Sandy. She would write a batch of shows and tape them during the day to protect her secret identity. The Diamondback would reveal which woman was Miss Midnight in the last issue of the year.
Miss Midnight was a very popular feature and Sandy loved doing it. "The idea was to sound as provocative as you could without really saying anything that could get you into trouble. Topics could be falling leaves, a crisp autumn night, a crackling fire, anything," said Sandra. At first though, she almost didn't make it on the air. She failed her first WMUC audition. "I had a strong Baltimore accent," Sandy confided. "I spent the next semester walking around campus practicing 'Oh no,' and 'Coke-a-Cola,'" trying to rid herself of Maryland's nasal "O" sound.
Both Charlie and Sandy believe the experience gained working at WMUC benefited them greatly in their careers. Sandy feels women were accepted equally at WMUC, while Charlie says having the opportunity to work on several shows helped them. "We took it very seriously. We did interview shows, variety, original drama...." Charlie says experience gained at WMUC helped him earn a position at USIA two days a week as a TV production assistant to help pay his way through school.
After graduation, Charlie accepted a public relations job so he could move to New York. He then worked on Wall Street for the American Stock Exchange and Merrill Lynch. He began by writing speeches, then advanced to training and development on Wall Street. He taught brokers how to be effective salespeople. He returned to broadcasting in the 1970s, working in a corporate capacity in human resource divisions for CBS, ABC, and HBO.
Sandy, meanwhile, was in graduate school. She earned her Masters in Communications at Annenberg in Pennsylvania. She returned to the D.C. area and worked in production for what was then called WMAL- TV. Dr. Aylward steered her back toward a job in the University's public relations office, where she wrote and produced programming carried by WRC-TV, Washington and WJZ-TV, Baltimore.
During this time, Sandy met and married her first husband and moved to New York. Finding a broadcasting job was frustrating. "They only wanted to know if I could type," said Sandy. She ended up working as a secretary in an ad agency and hated it. Looking for something else, she tried teaching at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, part of City University of New York. She taught classes in speech communication, mass media, interpersonal communications, and others.
Ten years passed by before Charlie and Sandy saw each other again. They were attending a convention of the Speech Communications Association in Philadelphia when they literally bumped into each other.
"I'm short and he's tall. I turned around and there was somebody's name badge literally in my face. It said 'John Charles Ford.' I looked up and said, 'Oh my God, Charlie!' I'll never forget that," Sandy remembered fondly.
At the time, Sandy was the mother of a 3-year-old boy, in the middle of a divorce, and pursuing a Ph.D. in Speech at NYU at night. She and Charlie renewed their friendship, spending holidays and other times together, even trading dating woes. This went on for 10 years. Finally, Charlie won a trip to Boston in a contest at work. By this time he was out on his own as a consultant, specializing in management development and leadership communications. He asked Sandy to go with him to Boston. They were both so nervous about the trip it took them a year to do it. That was in 1989.
After this, they began seriously dating. It was about this time that the movie "When Harry Met Sally" came out, and their friends made comparisons to Charlie and Sandy. "People who knew us were both delighted and flabbergasted that we were a romantic item," Sandy said.
Charlie heads his own consulting firm, John C. Ford Associates. Sandy is now Associate Dean for Institutional Advancement at Borough of Manhattan Community College of City University of New York. Her responsibilities include alumni relations, public relations and fundraising.
Charlie proposed to WMUC's former Miss Midnight in 1993. He was a 51 year old bachelor. "She still has that sexy voice," Charlie said.
Leslie Stimson is JOUR '80, and worked at WMUC in 1979 & 1980.
Highlights from the November Meeting
The WMUC Alumni Association met at National Public Radio on November 15, 1994. It was followed by a fascinating tour of NPR, given by Max Cacas.
The Staff Liaison Committee reported that they would be meeting with Dr. Bagwell on November 28, 1994.
The WMUC Liaison Committee reported that questionnaires were distributed to the students about the type of involvement the students wanted with the Alumni Association, and that a meeting will be set up in the near future.
Doug Harvill reported to the License Renewal Committee that the communications lawyer used by E.Z. Communications, Ann Swanson, has volunteered to help WMUC's staff and committee chair Mike Morrison with the renewal process.
Sue Kopen-Katcef, Treasurer, reported that we currently have about $1,600.00 in the checking account.
The formal incorporation of the WMUC Alumni Association is in progress by John Kuchno and his associates at Piper & Marbury.
Chet Rhodes reported that everything went well at the Homecoming Party. For next year, Chet said the Tent Party table could be organized better.
Lawrence Rust, General Manager of WMUC, reported that the station has been having problems with security, and the theft or damage of equipment.
A discussion ensued about the merits of attempting to repair the currently installed AM Carrier Current system, or taking advantage of a change in the FCC rules to use a low-power AM broadcast antenna, probably from the top of the Hornbake Library. Ed Jones agreed to help the station study the issue.
WMUC Executive Board applications are due November 16, 1994. Executive Staff applications are due December 9, 1994.
New locations for holding our meetings are being sought. Anyone with ideas should talk to BJ Cohen.
The Federal Communications Bar Association raises money for charity, according to Doug Harvill. They have expressed an interest in raising money for WMUC.
Alumni, Inc. & the IRS
Thanks to lawyer and WMUC Alum John Kuchno, as of November 23, 1994, we are now officially the WMUC Alumni Association, Inc. Many thanks to John, and to Patti Morrison at Piper and Marbury in Baltimore for making this happen. It will take a few more months for our application with the Internal Revenue Service to be processed.
Led by chairperson Vince Bruce, the WMUC Alumni Association Nominations Committee will work on developing a list of qualified nominees for the alumni board positions of President, Treasurer, and Secretary. The nominees will be presented for election at the annual WMUC Alumni meeting to be held Tuesday, April 25, 7:00 p.m. at National Public Radio. Current board members are BJ Cohen, President; Andrew Coile, Secretary; and Sue Kopen-Katcef, Treasurer.
If you are interested in joining the committee, please call Vince at (301) 890-0613.
If you would like to nominate yourself or someone else for any of the aforementioned positions, please fill out and return the enclosed nomination form no later than January 31, 1995.
The WMUC Alumni Association, Inc. extends a hearty congratulations to the new executive officers at WMUC. They are: Gil Yaker, General Manager; Melissa Rowell, Operations Manager; Jill Gruben, FM Program Director; Giselle Goicochea, AM Pro-gram Director; Annie Kim, Business Manager; Amie Hsu, News Director; Rob Carlin, Sports Director; and Eric Speck, Promotion Director.
Although we are now in the process of establishing the WMUC Alumni Association's tax exempt status (which won't occur until sometime after the first of the year), you can still make tax-deductible donations to the station. The best way to do that at the moment is through a donation to the University's Annual Fund Drive. What is permitted--but rarely disclosed--is that you can designate any donation that you make to a specific group/college/department on campus.
If you are inclined to make such a donation and wish to see that the money goes to WMUC, you should note on your donation that it is to go to the College of Journalism to be put towards the operations of WMUC. Then, to make certain the money goes where it should, contact Chet Rhodes at the College of Journalism. Chet's telephone number is (301) 405-2402.
Chet is not only a former WMUC General Manager, but he is also an instructor at the College of Journalism and has volunteered to help with keeping track of those donations until we achieve our tax exempt status. Obviously, at that time you will be able to make a tax-deductible donation directly to the WMUC Alumni Association. If you have any questions about this, please contact Chet directly.
Bill Scanlan, producer of The Greaseman Show, has invited visiting WMUC alums to sit in during Grease's show. The Greaseman Show is nationally syndicated and is heard locally on Infinity Broadcasting's WJFK (106.7). If interested, call Bill at (213) 882-8578.
Congratulations to Doug Harvill on his promotion to Vice-President/Programming of E.Z. Communications. Doug's position will have him riding herd on the programming of EZ stations across the country.
Over at News Channel 8 in Springfield, Virginia, Alex Likowski has become Director of Operations and Engineering, and Joan Doniger has moved from the Assignment Desk back to editing and also reporting. Another WMUC alum, Bruce DePuyt, is a reporter and fill-in anchor there.
Please send other "On the Move" items to: WMUC Alumni Association, On the Move, P.O. Box 6404, Annapolis, MD 21401, or FAX c/o BJ Cohen to (202) 775-3523.
For the second year in a row, we succeeded in pulling off a homecoming reunion for WMUC'ers. Although considerably more modest in size and content, this year's event still provided ample time to catch up with old friends--and, yes, even see the Terrapins win a football game.
Unlike our previous homecoming reunion events, this year we decided to limit our activities to just the Saturday of the game. So, who was there, you ask? This year's participants included: Gary Allentuck, Janet Bass, Doug Bertel, Bill Boyd, Bill Bronrott, Max Cacas, BJ Cohen, Gail Svensson Graff, Dan Greenstein, Doug Harvill, Sue Kopen-Katcef, Mike Morrison, Brian Morton, Avril Nichols, Mike Nicholson, Larry Pollack, Chet Rhodes, Tom Yeager--plus several others who joined us after the game at Chet and Beth Rhodes' home in University Park.
It is our intent to make this an annual event from here on. As soon as we get the date for next year's homecoming, we'll let you know so that you can reserve the date and can start making your plans. If you have any suggestions as to what more we might include for this weekend, please let us know. We need your ideas and input!
The WMUC Alumni Directory is composed of the information submitted on the WMUC Alumni Information Sheets (like the one enclosed with this newsletter). Please leave a message with any additions or corrections on the WMUC Alumni Hotline voice mail, at (202) 414-3188. The deadline for submitting the information sheets has been extended to January 31, 1995.
If you want to be included in the directory, even if you can't afford to make a voluntary contribution, please, please just fill out the information sheet and send it to us to be included. Getting people listed is the most important thing. If your information has changed (because you've moved, gotten married, changed jobs, etc.), please fill out another information sheet and send it to us.
The Directory will be mailed free to everyone who has made a financial contribution to the WMUC Alumni Association. For anyone else, it will be available for a $5.00 fee to cover the costs of printing and mailing. To obtain a copy, send a check for $5.00 to: WMUC Alumni Association Directory, P.O. Box 6404, Annapolis, MD 21401. The directory will be available as of February 15, 1995.