Prof gave voice to young journalists
The biggest voice on campus has gone silent with the recent death of Regis Tucci, a Colorado Mesa University assistant professor of mass communication and faculty adviser to the school’s radio station, KMSA.
He was found dead at his home Monday, apparently of natural causes.
Known for his grandiose mustache and vast collection of loud sweaters, Tucci stood out on campus. So did his personality. He embraced outlandish ideas. He loved Frank Zappa and Hunter S. Thompson. He liked to keep his office dim and drink his martinis with gin. His favorite piece of advice? “Never apologize, it’s a sign of weakness.”
Colorado Mesa alumna Nicole Skaff said Tucci nicknamed her Butch after she came to class with a voice deepened by mononucleosis. She didn’t know how to feel about that at the time but remembers it fondly now. Tucci became a friend to her and other students, who joked right back with him.
“Once, a bunch of us drew mustaches on our hands and took a picture with him. We all wanted a mustache like his, even the girls,” she said.
James Redmond, who graduated from CMU in 2012, said Tucci “was a bit of a kook but part of the reason I stuck with journalism.”
“He told me I had an abrasive personality and that would serve me well in journalism. I even listed it in my last job interview,” said Redmond, who writes for the Greeley Tribune.
Tucci treated his students as if they were his own children, according to Colorado Mesa alumnus Kyle Cooper. Cooper, who graduated in 2012 and lives in Denver, said Tucci helped him evolve from an awkward underclassman struggling to read radio copy into KMSA’s general manager.
“Tucci forced you to feel comfortable with your own voice,” Cooper said.
Another former KMSA general manager, Dustin Coren, who now works at 106.9 The Rock, said he owes his career to Tucci.
“Some people will tell you Tucci didn’t play by the rules but those are the people that teach you the most about life because life doesn’t play by the rules,” Coren said.
Caleb Burggraaf also gives Tucci credit for persuading him to pursue a career in radio. He works at a station in Wyoming and graduated from CMU in 2011.
“He would push you but he was there for you if you failed,” Burggraaf said. “I don’t think he ever judged a single person.”
Senior Matt MacDonald said Tucci encouraged him to succeed even more than his own parents. MacDonald said Tucci changed the course of his life when he took him aside after class one day and told him he had the voice and ability to think on his feet to succeed in broadcasting. MacDonald got a talk show on KMSA in 2012 and plans to stay in broadcasting after graduation.
“I don’t think any of that would have happened if it had not been for him taking an interest in me,” MacDonald said.
A new teacher will be hired but it will be impossible to truly replace Tucci, Mass Communication Department Director Dan Flenniken said. The department tentatively plans to host a memorial for Tucci later this month.