by Lauren Levine, contributing writer
Liz Ayers’ office in the WCNY building on Old Liverpool Road is a reflection of her long career in the broadcasting business. The pictures on the walls show Ayers in various places, often with well-known faces such as Hillary Clinton. Ayers has been a staple in the broadcast media since she began her career in the 1970s. She’s worked all around the country from Milwaukee to Tampa, and has been a recognizable part of the Central New York community since her days as an anchor and reporter at WTVH.
Ayers is now the director of development and grants for WCNY. She’s one of the driving forces behind the organization’s move to an impressive new facility on Syracuse’s Near Westside. The building will offer a variety of educational programs for adults and children, a café that will hold cooking classes, a theater that doubles as a rehearsal space, and state-of-the-art TV and radio studios.
“The new building was a necessity,” Ayers said. “We’ve outgrown this building. We are going to serve the community in ways it’s never been served before. It’s not bricks and mortar. It’s really about connecting with people and filling a void in the community.” Although the new location is on the Near Westside, WCNY covers 19 counties. The new space will serve this entire coverage area.
Ayers spends most of her day writing grants and raising funds for WCNY. As she explained, “We’ve got a little over three million dollars to raise, out of the 20 million dollars.” It’s a big number, but when she talks about the new space Ayers’ face lights up, and you can hear the excitement in her voice. Her enthusiasm is contagious. Her job is important and, one could also imagine, stressful at times. When discussing this aspect, Ayers slides a framed picture across her desk. The picture reads, “Live well, laugh hard, love big.”
“That’s the way I live,” she said. “I just want to enjoy life. I’m just passing through. I want to be good to people. I want people to be good to me.”