The hallway on the first floor of the Roy H. Park School of Communications is completely empty, save for a few custodians cleaning the floor by the stairs. It’s Saturday night, a time when students can take a break from their weekly day-to-day routines to sit back and relax — but not Victor Rosa. Holding a bag of CDs and wearing a Ritmo Latino T-shirt, his weekend is just getting started.
Victor Rosa was a groundskeeper and light equipment operator for Ithaca College starting in 1997 until he retired in 2016. Rosa also has another nickname: DJ Vic. Rosa has been a DJ for WICB’s Latin radio show, Ritmo Latino, broadcasted every Saturday at 6 p.m. since 1998. He celebrated his official 20th anniversary of hosting the show this past August. However, getting introduced to the radio world at the college — and Ritmo Latino itself — was unexpected for Rosa.
“I just started working for the college as part of maintenance, and one of the guys who worked with me asked if I knew there was a Latin show on campus,” Rosa said. “I didn’t, so he showed me a little bit of the show. When I listened to it, I realized that I needed to be involved.”
Rosa grew up listening to Latin music and started collecting Latin CDs when he was 16 years old. As soon as he realized that there was a Latin radio show on campus, Rosa introduced himself to the WICB staff. He started bringing in his personal CD collection for the station to borrow during the Ritmo Latino show. Soon after, the staff asked him to host a show but not one that he expected.
“I don’t know how long after, but eventually they asked me to do the weather,” Rosa said. “I was surprised, but I decided to give it a shot.”
After a few months, one of the hosts for the Ritmo Latino radio show left. Rosa was the first person that the WICB staff asked to take over the position.
Rosa said that although he had to balance his radio hosting position with his job as a groundskeeper, sharing music has always felt natural to him.
“I grew up sharing my music,” Rosa said. “Ever since I was a kid, I would hang out with the kids on my block blasting my music through a radio, a portable record player or just about anything I had on me.”
When Rosa was a teenager in his hometown of Manhattan, he would DJ the dances in the nearby community center. Not only did he DJ — he played the drums, too. When Rosa was a child, he would play along, with any pot or pan he could find, to his mother singing along to the radio. As Rosa grew older, he realized there was something about the rhythm that drew him to music.
“When my family moved from Manhattan into the Bronx when I was 16, I would walk around to check out the area, and I would always hear these drums,” Rosa said. “One day I ran over to see it, and it was instant love.”
Up until this year, Rosa would bring his personal CD collection to the studio and use his CDs for the radio show. However, with the rise of internet radio, his process of choosing and broadcasting the songs each week has changed. According to the WICB website, Rosa is one of five non-student community DJs at WICB.
“For each song that I used for a show, I would place a sticky note on the CD and write the number of the track that I used, and what day I used it,” Rosa said. “Now that I do the show online at home, I have to convert each song into an MP3 and log when I do that along with my previous method.”
The popularity of internet radio has also changed how Rosa broadcasts Ritmo Latino. Previously, he would come into the WICB office to broadcast the show manually. Beginning this year, he broadcasts the show by uploading the songs he needs to a computer and playing them through his radio equipment at home.
Rosa said that hosting the radio show has allowed him to make connections with people within the college community — students, alumni, faculty and staff alike — that are hard to break. For instance, Jeremy Menard, the current manager of television and radio operations, has only worked at the college for a year, but Rosa has already made a lasting impression on him through their constant collaborations.
“I think something that sets Victor apart is that he has an amazing passion for radio and for music in general,” Menard said. “He is constantly preparing for his show, going through music and trying to figure out how he can make his show bigger and better.”
Menard mentioned that Rosa is also dedicated when it comes to marketing his show. Whenever he is on campus, it is not uncommon to see him wearing a Ritmo Latino shirt and hat.
“He’s enthusiastic and passionate about Ritmo Latino and Latin music as a whole,” Menard said. “This quality is what you really want to see in a radio host.”
Rosa is a known DJ among the students within WICB. Pia Rizzo-Wittlin, a junior television-radio major and DJ for WICB Homebrew, said he enjoys Rosa’s show.
“I have never worked with him personally, but through some of my brief talks with him, he is one of the most dedicated DJs I’ve ever met,” Rizzo-Wittlin said. “His show is such a pleasure to listen to, and I think it’s a great representation of Ithaca’s local music community.”
However, Rosa said the recognition he gets from new and old listeners alike is still something that he has not gotten used to.
“I don’t remember when, but I once got a message online from someone in London about how much they love the show,” Rosa said. “The fact that it has grown this immensely is amazing to me and something that surprises me every day.”