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Bacherman Fund Remembers a Broadcasting Maverick

Scott Bacherman
‘Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky: Back in the 1970s, WMUA program director, the late Scott Bacherman ’76, played a Jimi Hendrix tune every time he was on-air. To honor Scott’s devotion to radio, his cousin, Marc Berman ’80, then WMUA station manager, helped establish a scholarship and internship fund in Bacherman’s name.
THERE WAS NO GROOVIER TIME to be in radio than in the purple haze of the early 1970s. Back then, Scott Bacherman ’76 pulled many a caffeinated all-nighter at WMUA. His mission: bring the music to the people.

In that era of long hair and bare feet, Bacherman’s career took shape at the station. “In those days, there was no faculty or administrative oversight,” recalls Marc Berman ’80, Scott’s cousin. “Everyone had the freedom to do almost whatever they wanted. It was chaotic, but it was a hothouse of creativity.”

When Bacherman passed away a year and a half ago, Marc Berman lost more than a cousin. The pair had been best friends, best men at each other’s weddings, godparents to one another’s children, and business partners. As boys they gathered around their grandmothers’ tables for Sunday night dinners. As adults they met across conference tables to broker mergers and acquisitions—two rising stars in the field of radio. They were like brothers, two halves of a whole.

To honor Scott, family and friends have established the Bacherman Fund. “It’s our way of having Scott live on.” With initial leadership gifts of $125,000 and a goal of raising $500,000, the Scott J. Bacherman Fund supports students with its namesake’s brand of entrepreneurial zeal through two annual awards: a $10,000 scholarship for an in-state student and a $5,000 internship grant in broadcasting. Any student involved with WMUA is eligible to apply. Once the campaign reaches its goal, the Campus Center offices housing WMUA and its studios will be renamed the Bacherman Broadcasting Center.

As a freshman Scott landed a show on WMUA. By his sophomore year, peers had elected him music director. Then program director. Under his leadership the station instituted 24-hour programming and began paying its management staff. “He was kicked out of the Dean’s office in the process of relentlessly obtaining summer salaries in 1975, but won us 13 stipends that year,” says Berman, who was station manager at the time.

Scott decided that he and Marc could do their same jobs in the real world. After graduation he embarked on a four-year odyssey to create a radio station from scratch. While clearing FCC licensing hurdles, Marc and Scott made ends meet by disc jockeying on various stations, working in bars, even selling flowers on the streets of Boston. In 1980 the cousins’ perseverance paid off: WPOE in Greenfield hit the airwaves. “We had two weeks of operating capital at that point,” remembers Berman.

When Berman and Bacherman sold the successful station five years later they were poised to make their mark. They went on to own and operate a variety of radio stations, both together and with other partners, climbing the professional ladder. As large corporate ownership transformed broadcasting, the cousins’ careers intersected again. Both held executive posts at Clear Channel at the time of Scott’s cancer diagnosis.

To his wife Susan Ryerson, his children Samuel and Jade, and to his family and friends, the scholarship is a fitting legacy for Scott. “He loved UMass Amherst and had great mentors here. His entrepreneurial spirit was nurtured at the university,” says Berman. “The fund recognizes and supports that same kind of passion. It will give access to students who want to identify and grow their talents to realize dreams of careers in broadcasting.”

For more on the Foundation visit: http://www.umass.edu/foundation/

Check out WMUA at www.wmua.org


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