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STEVE MARCHESE, BA ’97, is a self-proclaimed “total media junkie.” After directing the Webby Awards (the leading international event honoring website excellence in both content and design) for five years, Marchese was recently named the executive producer for Internet Week New York and Internet Week Europe, two weeklong festivals presented annually by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences to celebrate the thriving Internet industry.
“I’ve always tried to track things down or discover new things and tell people about them,” says Marchese, who also runs an ad-free music blog at www.scissorkick.com as a hobby where he posts his finds for readers and other music aficionados.
Would you still select the same major if you had to do it all over again?
I think I would. Perhaps supported by a minor in some type of digital design or computer programming field of study.Steve Marchese
Marchese started out at UB as a mechanical engineering major, but his love of music led him to start writing reviews for The Spectrum and he switched to English. He took classes with UB stars, the late Ray Federman, Leslie Fiedler and Robert Creeley, and Susan Howe. Federman inspired him to become interested in graphic design by teaching him to experiment with the way words looked on the page. “Music has always been there, but I left UB with other interests in writing, editing and design. My career combines them all. Do what you love—it really works.”
—Mara McGinnis, BA ’97, with photo by John Emerson
Favorite career moment so far?
Meeting and honoring the inventors of the World Wide Web–Vint Cerf, Robert Kahn and Sir Tim Berners–Lee–at the Webby Awards is an incredible memory. And interviewing Scottish electronic music pioneers Boards of Canada in Edinburgh was definitely a personal highlight.
How did UB influence your life and career?
It was absolutely essential to my development and success. My time at The Spectrum editing the now–defunct Prodigal Sun Friday entertainment supplement, and classes with Raymond Federman and Susan Howe taught me how to push the limits of creativity and be provocative while still appealing to the masses. It’s what I tried to do with the Webby Awards.
How did you do your homework and/or research papers before Google or the Internet?
I had a Brother word processor and around 1994 started to spend more time in the nascent computer lab. I found any and every reason to use microfiche just so I could say the word “microfiche.” It’s an excellent word.
Favorite UB class or professor?
Susan Howe had a very passive yet subversive intellectualism. She taught me you could stir things up without being too showy and histrionic. And she had a great voice. I never thought much of poetry until I took her classes.
What do you consider your greatest personal achievement?
It’s a tie between managing to convince my wife [Andriana Azarias, BA ’98 & BS ’98] to say “yes” (we met at UB, lost touch and ran into each other years later in New York’s Union Square) and not passing out during the birth of our son Nicolas.
Anything you miss about UB?
Three things—the Music Listening Room, the Arcade and the Tennessee Turkey at Putnam’s, all of which were found in the Student Union. And Schussmeisters—unlimited skiing for $100!
What advice do you have for current UB students? “If I knew then what I know now ...”
When they say “freshman 15,” it’s not the 15 pounds you will gain, it’s the 15 years it’ll take to lose them.
What do you think is different (both better and worse) for students today compared with when you went to UB?
Affordable tuition. The cost of tuition and room and board has gone up 50 percent since I was a student.
If you could have had one technological advancement/device here now that wasn’t around in the 1990s, what would it be?
The Internet, of course. It was around in my junior and senior years in the on-campus computer labs, but was no comparison to the experience we currently enjoy.
What’s your impression of the university today?
Still an amazing value and education. I only wish the city of Buffalo evolved the way UB has over the past 15 years.
Last book read? Do you use an e-reader?
“All the Pretty Horses” by Cormac McCarthy. I don’t use an e-reader, but read a lot of news and magazine articles on my phone via a great app called Instapaper.
When was the last time you visited UB?
Do you keep in touch with UB friends today?
Absolutely. My friends from UB remain among my closest friends 15 years later.
What do you miss most about your time as a student?
The newness of nearly everything and of discovery.
What is your favorite website?
Haven’t you heard? The Web is dead. At least Prince and Chris Anderson of Wired magazine think so.
Any distinct memories about Buffalo winters?
The preparedness of the city was always amazing to me. Living off campus and downtown, it was incredible to see how quickly the snow would be cleared.
David Dorsey is a Rochester-based freelance writer whose credits include Esquire and Fast Company (Dilek Cindoglu, Dexter Johnson, Atif Zafar); Grace Lazzara is a Buffalo-based writer and public relations strategist (Andra Ackerman, Gwen Howard, Bridget Cullen Mandikos); Mara McGinnis, BA ’97, is executive director of communications at Pratt Institute and a New York City-based freelance writer (Randy Asher, Steve Marchese, Rodney Sharman).