This Saturday, the half-century-old radio tower perched atop the College of Communication will be dismantled and removed, effectively altering the Boston University skyline of lower Commonwealth Avenue. The now vestigial tower, which hasn’t been used since the 1950s, is being removed as a symbolic gesture of COM’s move into what Dean Tom Fiedler calls ‘new media.’ But this superficial gesture is useless because the tower ‘-‘- though inactive ‘-‘- is a piece of BU history and the least of COM’s unattractive physical blemishes.
The COM radio tower, which once broadcasted BU’s then-student radio station WBUR, has served no technical purpose since the late 1950s. WBUR has since become a National Public Radio member station and is no longer operated by students. However, for the new student radio station, WTBU, the old radio tower has broadcast not their signal, but their presence on campus. Though it isn’t functioning as a radio transmitter, it is certainly functioning as an advertisement for BU’s student radio station, which would certainly benefit from greater visibility on campus and in the city.
Furthermore, plans for a replacement to the radio tower are unnecessary and wasteful, especially if they are temporary. Dean Fiedler’s proposal for erecting a sign displaying ‘COM’ for the time being would be a waste of resources and bring even less to the college than the radio tower. A Jumbotron would also seem out-of-place on COM, and would be something like riding spinners on an ’88 Mazda ‘-‘- further calling attention to the foul physical condition of the building.
The outside of the COM building is indeed in desperate need of overhaul. The radio tower is a small part of the picture. Perhaps the large glass staircase was appealing when the building was constructed, but the ‘look’ hasn’t stood up well to the test of time. In the same light, the gravel and concrete facade of the building is a repulsive shade of gray. Compared to the gleaming features of the School of Management located across the street, COM just seems neglected.
In any COM renovations, special attention should be given to Dean Fiedler’s ideas of new media. The school should think modern, but with realistic and more meaningful, functional and substantive visions. Simply reconstructing the building with new material would go along way toward advancing the building into the 21st century.’ ‘ ‘
If the removal of the COM radio tower is the first step in a grander overhaul, then we appreciate the swift movement being taken by the college. If it is purely symbolic, it is a waste of the college’s resources and snubs its students who work for WTBU. In the long term, a large-scale renovation is inevitable for the college, but for the sake of the its students, the university should make COM upgrades a priority.