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Robert Samels: A Remembrance by David Wood

WFIU’s Music Director David Wood shares his memories of Robert Samels.

It’s been four years since IU Jacobs School of Music students Robert Samels, Chris Carducci, Zachary Novak, Georgina Joshi, and Garth Eppley died in a plane crash on April 20, 2006. Samels was an announcer at WFIU, and on the anniversary of his death, WFIU’s Music Director David Wood shares his memories.

When I began as a part-time announcer at WFIU in 2006 I had no experience on the radio and was very nervous. Thankfully I was assigned another part-timer as my training partner. Little did I know the effect Robert Samels would have on me.

I had already performed with Robert at the IU Jacobs School of Music, where I was a student, and like anyone else involved with music on the IU campus, I had heard the name spoken a number of times in reference to his many involvements. When people mentioned Robert you could hear the admiration they held for him, as well as the infectious sense of joy they seemed to draw from his presence, whether he was there or not.

Robert’s ability to multitask was legendary. He could host an on-air shift while preparing for an afternoon voice lesson, writing the next hilarious installment of Ether Game, and grading assignments from the classes his taught. I felt lucky enough when I handled the CD player and the microphone with some degree of proficiency!

His advice was simple and to the point, “Open the mic and act like you’re just talking to someone you know. “ He’d listen quietly on another pair of headphones while I gave it a shot. Then he’d give me pointers on how I could relax more, and what he felt the listener really wanted to hear during a given shift. I still hold on to one bit of advice in particular when I handle the morning shifts, “People want the weather, and they want it often.”

On the morning we lost Robert, I came into the station not knowing what had happened, but it was plain from the atmosphere that something irreplaceable had been lost. I had only known him for a short while, but I felt some of the same loss that I saw expressed on the faces of our coworkers and heard in the stories they told of him.

Robert’s legacy lives on in the programs he created, the performances he gave, in his comprehensive recordings library that was given to the station in his honor, and in each of us whom he inspired and encouraged. I feel incredibly fortunate not only to have shared the microphone and the stage with Robert, but to have been able to call him a friend and a mentor, even if only for a few months.

The WFIU staff would like to thank all the listeners and friends of Robert who gave generously to the Robert Samels Memorial Fund for training initiatives at WFIU. This year, WFIU announcers and producers participated in several training opportunities as a direct result of contributions to the Fund. Together we can preserve his memory and continue to teach and touch those who, like Robert, come to WFIU to learn the art and craft of public radio.

To contribute to the Fund, send your tax-deductible donation to:
WFIU/Samels Fund
Radio-Television Center
1229 E. 7th Street
Bloomington, IN 47405

or contact Nancy Krueger at 812-855-2935 or

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