Communications professor Tom McCray retires after 35 years


“I couldn’t have chosen two better careers for enjoyment and not feeling like I ever worked,” said the soon to be retired gem of SUNY Buffalo State.

Known for his staggering height and distinct voice, students and faculty bid a sad farewell to one of the greatest professors in the communication department – Tom McCray.

It is not often you come across someone who is primarily described as passionate, friendly, easy-going, and for his more obvious traits – very tall with a deep voice.

Let’s not forget about the infamous April Fool’s prank he took part in many years ago, where he and others “changed” 91.3 WBNY, the college radio station, from an alternative station to a raging top 40s.

Holding these quality personality traits matched with a professional attitude makes it difficult to lose the role model McCray was for many students.

McCray will take on new adventures after teaching at Buffalo State for 35 years.

“It is very bitter-sweet,” he says, adding, “I’ve created a lot of great memories with a lot of wonderful students.”

McCray has worked in radio for 43 years, and it shows through his passion, skill, and notoriety in teaching students the ropes in broadcasting and radio journalism. He currently works full time at 102.9 WECK and will continue to grace the airwaves throughout the week.

Those who know him and who have had him as a professor can agree that his love for his work echoes in conversations you have with him; it is something folks can see within minutes.

“His successor will not be his replacement,” said professor Ron Smith.

Smith reminisced about his early experience with McCray.

“Tom always impressed me for his steadiness. He’s cool and calm under pressure and very friendly, the only complaint I’ve ever heard about Tom is students complaining his class if full and they couldn’t get in.”

Joseph Marren, chair of the communication department met McCray in the halls of Buffalo State. His first encounter with him was as a colleague. Marren said he had a great first impression of McCray through his friendliness and willingness to stop and talk to a brand new teacher.

“Every memory I have of him is a fond one, he is willing to extend himself to make other people comfortable,” he said.

Faculty members aren’t the only ones with raving reviews on the 6-foot-something radio personality.

Senior media production major, Brayton Wilson, said he was sad to hear the news, but everyone has to retire at some point.

“People recommended I take a class with McCray. I first met him for advisement before my fall semester in 2013 and had such a great experience.”

Wilson describes McCray as a “class-act guy who is always willing to help out.” He said McCray is one of the reasons he got involved in radio and has been a big staple in everything he’s done.

“It has been a pleasure not only to meet Tom but to take classes with him,” he said, adding, “he is so into his work that it doesn’t even compare to any professor I’ve had here, he is very talented and it makes him a great person to look up to and learn from.”

Many soon-to-be graduates of the department look forward to hearing McCray call their name during commencement, something Marren said is very common.

“I see people change their spot in line just so they can be the one Tom calls. It is kind of like that legend that will be gone,” he said.

As much as students and faculty will miss McCray, they can be assured that they are not alone.

“I’ll miss the students terribly,” McCray said.

He shared some of his fondest moments at Buffalo State, aside from the WBNY prank.

“The one thing about being a teacher is, you feel like you have some influence on what the students are doing, and it makes teaching wonderful.”

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