The Colgate Scene
July 2002

People on the go
Brehmer
[Photo by Amy Braswell]
The Reverend of Rock 'n' Roll

"It's great to be alive!" Lin Brehmer '76 reminds listeners of his maxim, inspired by a Frank Zappa song, every Friday. Brehmer's celebrating 10 years as the morning rock DJ on 93WXRT in Chicago.

Brehmer said his typical modus operandi is "incorporating cultural touchstones into music selections." He's fond of reading passages from literature -- Wallace Stevens or Revelations, for example, and "I'm not averse to reading selections from T.S. Eliot's `The Wasteland' on the first day of April," he noted. "Someone once said I'm a cross between David Letterman and David Lynch, but I said they were wrong because I'm not as funny as Letterman and I'm much more twisted than Lynch."

During a recent shift, he offered up for "New Releases Thursday" the latest from Fastball, Van Morrison and Sheryl Crow, interwoven with older tunes by Pete Yorn, The Who, Natalie Merchant, The Cure and Eric Clapton. Between selections, he bantered with news anchor Mary Dixon about the peculiarities of a medical news item about injectable microchips that could be used to track people and exhorted listeners to remember Mother's Day as he ad-libbed a commercial for the Vermont Teddy Bear Company.

Brehmer got his start on the air at Colgate, filling in at WRCU during a summer semester. Colgate was a "fertile breeding ground for radio," he said, as well as the site of memorable musical moments -- on WXRT's website he lists the 1975 Colgate appearance by Chick Corea's band Return To Forever among his favorite concerts of all time. And, he mentioned, music helped bring him and his wife, classmate Sara Farr, together: "Our first date was the New Riders of the Purple Sage Concert in the gym in 1973." They now have an eight-year-old son, Wilson.

Indeed, his is a Colgate family. Brehmer's father is Franklin Jr '50, and the theater in Dana Arts Center as well as the organ in Memorial Chapel are named for his late grandfather, Franklin '14.

His first professional DJ gig was in 1977, on the Sunday six a.m. shift at WQBK in Albany, where his colleagues dubbed him the Reverend of Rock 'n' Roll. He quipped that although he was never officially ordained, "I was a member of the Church of Jimi Hendrix."

"There was a pivotal revolution in music going on at that time," he remarked, "I was listening to every record released and advising my boss on whether people like The Police would ever be listened to, whether bands like U2 or REM would make it. It was an exciting time."

In 1984, Brehmer came to a fork in the road, which first led him to Chicago and WXRT, as music director for six years. After a one-year detour in 1990 to Minneapolis, where he became program director at KTCZ, he was offered the morning show back at WXRT. "A lot of people thought the program director was insane for putting me on in the Top Three market, because I hadn't been on the air for about eight years," Brehmer remarked. "But I'm celebrating my 10th year, so I must be fooling somebody."

He's doing more than fooling people: "I like Lin's show because he is able to mix music, movies and news together that tells a story. His choice of words and his views about the world are refreshing," posted a listener to a Chicago website. Another noted that "he can be seen around town at all sorts of festivals and concerts, yet manages to get up and on the radio every morning." Another wrote, "his sardonic sense of humor makes me laugh on a regular basis. His show is for the thinking rock 'n' roll men and women of the fine city of Chicago."

For four years running, Brehmer has been named Adult Album Personality of the Year by Radio & Records and Adult Rock Personality of the Year by Billboard/Monitor for three. A local gourmet coffee company, Papanicholas, named one of their brews, 93XRT Brehmer Breakfast Blend, after him. "Originally they wanted it to be a hazelnut chicken mint flavor, but I said, `if I'm going to have my name on a coffee, it's gotta be a coffee-flavored coffee,'" he said.

"If you had asked me when I was studying Virginia Woolf with Margaret Maurer what I'd be doing in 25 years," he reflected, "I probably would not have said, `you know, I think I'll be a morning disc jockey in Chicago. Sometimes the unexpected things are the most welcome."

Cincotta
[Photo by Shannon McAvoy]
Masonry maven

Connie Cincotta '82 has blocks all over New York City -- at the E Walk at Times Square, the new Mets and Yankees minor league stadiums, the AOL/Time Warner building and the Morgan Stanley Building, to name a few. She's president and owner of Glenwood Mason Supply, the only manufacturer of concrete block within the five boroughs.

"Thirty-five or 40 years ago there were 14 block manufacturers in the city," said Cincotta. "Now we're the only one. It's not easy to do what we're doing -- we need wide open spaces." She uses creative inventory control measures to manage literally millions of bricks, blocks and other products, as well as her manufacturing plant, on a five-acre lot in Brooklyn that also houses a showroom and office space.

This winter, the Glen-Gery Brick Corp. of Pennsylvania presented Cincotta with a glazed brick American flag, recognizing her generous assistance to the rescue crews after the Sept. 11 attacks; she was profiled in the New York Daily News.

"We stock many of the items they desperately needed, like rain gear, boots, eye protection and gloves," she explained, "so we cleared our shelves and sent a lot of trucks down." Cincotta, who is very attached to her fluffy dog, Killer, also donated loads of dog food for the canine rescue units.

The first of the brick flags, which are being sold to benefit the FDNY widows and orphans fund, was presented to President Bush. Cincotta received the second, which she has since installed into the façade of Glenwood's office building "as a permanent tribute to the men and women who perished on Sept. 11," she said.

Glenwood, certified as a Woman Owned Business Enterprise by the city and state of New York, the School Construction Authority and the Port Authority of N.Y. and N.J., can service everything "from a homeowner replacing his stoop to a huge job in the city," said Cincotta, "and that's fun because you get your hand in everything." The company also sells paving material, glass block, cast stone and garden statuary.

Cincotta is proud of being a success in an industry where women are not prominent. "Sometimes there's an initial hesitance about dealing with a woman in the brick and masonry business," she told the Daily News, "but as soon as contractors realize I know what I'm talking about and get good service, they relax."

After graduating from Colgate, Cincotta spent ten years gaining experience in the construction supply field, including several working for her father's company. Spurred by her desire to pursue innovations in the industry, in 1993 she founded Glenwood, which has grown to nearly 80 employees and last year exceeded $21 million in gross sales.

Most satisfying to her is "seeing the buildings go up, seeing neighborhoods transformed," she said. "New York has gone through such a renaissance, and I feel like I have been part of it because I can see what I've contributed."

A recent challenge she is particularly proud of was gaining approval to use a new type of fireproofing aggregate in the blocks for the AOL/Time Warner building. "There was a lot of resistance to it. We had to provide a lot of test information and data," she said. "I go by it a couple of times a week and I love to see every floor that goes up."

Cincotta says she loves what she does because "there's always something new to do or learn. For instance, with Sept. 11, now that they're investigating what caused the buildings to collapse and how buildings could be better constructed, I think that masonry is going to have a real resurgence. The construction and fireproofing [at the WTC] weren't sufficient, and masonry construction gives you a very high fire rating, so I think that buildings will be redesigned. I hope to be a part of that." In anticipation, she has begun construction of a second manufacturing facility.

An English major while at Colgate, she holds a masters degree from NYU and is an avid theater fan ("I'm strictly a spectator") with strong interest in the Williamstown Theater Festival.

This spring, she received the Shirley Chisholm Award from the Mid-Brooklyn Civic Association, for her dedication, devotion and commitment to the betterment of the community.

"I do get a lot of satisfaction out of the fact that I am taken seriously, that I am an innovator and a prominent member of the construction community," said Cincotta. "I do feel that I will be encouraging to other women who want to do whatever crazy thing women don't traditionally do."

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