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Volunteer honored for more than 30 years of radio service

Date: 1/25/2010

Jan. 25, 2010

By Tom Relihan

Staff Intern

SPRINGFIELD -- Volunteer radio host Imam Ishmael Ali was awarded an honorary doctorate in communications in commemoration of his 34 years of service at 90.7 WTCC - the radio station located on the campus of Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) - during its 40th birthday celebration on Dec. 12. The award was presented by Station Manager Denise Marie Stewart.

Ali, 71, who graduated from STCC with a degree in communications in 1977, has been working with WTCC since enrolling in the school in 1975, making him the oldest volunteer at the station. He hosts a talk program called "The Final Reality," which features discussions concerning in-depth topics such as the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and Middle Eastern doctrine.

"The content of my show deals with the last stages of human development," Ali said.

He is also currently the only uninterrupted volunteer on the station, having never left for any extended period of time while supporting a family of seven, working as a certified social worker in the East Longmeadow and Springfield school systems, and participating in international studies in Istanbul, Turkey.

Ali said his interest in radio and music began as a child growing up in Boston, where he was surrounded by many people who were involved in jazz music and records. He spent his first paycheck from his first job at Polaroid, expanding his music collection, and said it blossomed from there.

Ali is presently the owner of the largest collection of music industry artifacts in Springfield, which includes items such as records autographed by jazz greats such as Miles Davis and Rahsaan Roland Kirk -- both of whom were known for not easily giving interviews or signatures -- making some of the items in his possession extremely rare.

He showcased many of the artifacts during a display of 100-year-old radio equipment at the celebration, which included items such as a radio dating from 1904, a reel-to-reel tape recorder, an eight-track player and a 1987 boom box, all of which were in excellent condition.