Don’t ask senior Zach Tomanelli to choose one aspect of media that he loves the most, because he won’t be able to give you an answer.
As a journalism major with minors in history and theater, multiple internships, extracurricular activities and interests, Tomanelli has managed to try his hand at almost every form of media in his time at Ithaca College.
With his smooth, charismatic voice, which Tomanelli always thought was one of his better gifts, he got involved with VIC Radio his freshman year. Now the sports director, Tomanelli said radio just seemed to fit.
“I really like radio as a medium, not that the other media aren’t without value,” he said. “But I really like radio because it’s very unique, and it’s very versatile, and I feel like it’s sort of lasting.”
As sports director, Tomanelli is constantly creating game openings, scheduling games and training the younger broadcasters. But Tomanelli said he still gets his air time doing play-by-play, color commentary, halftime shows and pregame shows.
Senior Nate March, who has worked with Tomanelli at the radio station since their freshman year, said though Tomanelli doesn’t have his own sign-off, he always has something new to bring to the airwaves.
“It’s not that very deep, voice-over type voice,” he said. “It’s a little bit nasally, but not in the bad way where it gets too pitchy. It just grabs your attention. It’s a very distinguishable voice from other broadcasters.”
Tomanelli, a Park Scholar, has many interests in media aside from sports reporting. He gets his news fix writing political pieces for Buzzsaw Magazine. For The Ithacan, he wrote a column about international and domestic issues. Tomanelli also satisfied his interest in entertainment, writing reviews for Imprint Magazine.
“I try to use all the different media on campus to express my different interests and fulfill those different outlets,” he said.
When Tomanelli isn’t producing sports openings for the radio station or writing his Academy Award previews for Imprint Magazine, he can be found volunteering off campus in Amy Eckley’s fourth grade class at South Hill Elementary School, helping as a teacher’s assistant. Eckley said Tomanelli’s flexible attitude has been helpful to her the past four years.
“There are plenty of times when we’re not doing anything like what I planned to do, so he’s very good at rolling with the flow and handling things well,” she said.
That flexibility comes in handy for Tomanelli as he manages his packed schedule of classes, volunteering, meetings and homework. He said he also makes time to catch up on his favorite media outlets, including those he has interned at such as NPR, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting and Democracy Now!
“One of the great things about the time we live in is at the end of the day, I can go back and visit all my favorite news sites or watch videos,” he said. “Often I’ll think to myself how much harder it must have been to stay informed 20 to 25 years ago.”
While participating in the Los Angeles Program last spring, Tomanelli worked with Renee Montagne, the host of Morning Edition at NPR, who told him something that has stayed with him.
“She said to me, ‘Between the four major media now — print media, television, online or radio — radio is the only one that you can do while you’re in the shower or do while you’re driving,’” he said. “There’s a certain kind of permanence to it in our lives.”
Though the Los Angeles program may be geared toward cinema and photography and television-radio majors, Tomanelli said he focused on news reporting there.
“I was out there for the Haiti earthquake, which was a lot of reporting, and they were basically having the surge in Afghanistan, so it was an interesting time to be out there,” he said.
NPR was not the only place Tomanelli was able to cover hard-hitting news. This summer, he worked three days a week at Democracy Now! and two days at FAIR. Jeff Cohen, director of the Park Center for Independent Media, who was Tomanelli’s internship supervisor for the summer, said Tomanelli seemed to do it all.
“I visited both sites while he worked there and he seemed — to outside eyes — to be a regular part of both staff teams,” Cohen said.
Ideally, Tomanelli said he would like to move to New York City after graduation and work for an independent media organization. But he said when it comes to politics, sports and entertainment, he wants it all.
“I would like to go into the political journalism, the current affairs route,” he said. “But, I would never want to give up those other passions, whether sports or entertainment, because it’s all very related.”