Feature Writer Karen Crowder – The Early Years of Roger Cicchese’s Dream of Broadcasting and Sound Engineering

I have known Roger since childhood, we went to Perkins together and both lived in Weymouth, but I didn’t learn how his fascination with sound and broadcasting began until my interview with him.

At the age of seven, much of Roger’s world was the Victor Theater in Weymouth which his parents ran. Roger was fascinated with the theater’s projection booth, “Where the sound equipment was.” He explained in the mid-fifties, someone made live announcements over the microphone about upcoming, “movies and what time the candy counter would close as reels were changed.” As Roger listened he thought, “I want to do this someday.” Soon after he told his dad, “I want to talk into that microphone,” he got his chance and talked about baseball and the weather. As he was an avid radio listener he also imagined doing a show from that booth. When he suggested his idea for a show when kids were on school vacation his dad finally gave him a chance to entertain audiences. He played 78’s from the thirties / forties era donated to him. Everyone loved his show, and parents and adults enjoyed listening to music, “they liked.” He entertained his audience with this show during school vacations and weekends.
During his high school years at Perkins, Roger’s extracurricular activities included joining the Amateur radio club and performing with a group of talented blind students. They performed in Boston and on the TV show “Community Auditions.” These experiences on radio and TV helped to motivate him to pursue his interest in broadcasting.

He made a lasting impression on us as a cordial master of ceremonies for the 1969 Junior Fair. After graduation, Roger had a summer job at a South Shore radio station WJDA. “I did everything while I was there,” he explained. “The station was community oriented,” playing popular music. He met tight deadlines producing a daily hour long news program. In 1969, reports came over phone lines recorded. He produced these shows from “master recordings.”
As a freshman at Assumption College in Worcester, he double majored in English and Psychology and minored in Education. Yet the world of radio followed him as students were talking about starting a radio station at the college. WACR started broadcasting Halloween 1971 as a low power college station. It had diverse programming of music and news.

Students knew Roger liked to perform and they persuaded him to sing at a college mixer. As he told me, the lead singer was awful and Roger humbly asked, “For a chance to sing.” Grateful, he approached the mike as the others said, “let the blind guy do it.” After singing the long version of “Light my Fire” by Jim Morrison he became the lead singer.

As his college days ended, broadcasting and performing became an avocation as he started work as a full time social worker for the state of Massachusetts. He also began teaching English and Psychology on the college level in the evenings. He got his master’s degree in mental health counseling, “thinking there will always be work in this field.”

By the 1980s, his life changed direction again. With an impending marriage, he branched out into sales and technology support. Accessible technology was new; computers would open up a new world for the blind. This work would lead him back to the world he loved: broadcasting and engineering.

In my next article I will detail the companies he worked for and how he and Jane built the studio and business they have in New Hampshire.

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