George J. Lombardi, long-time general manager of WSHU Public Radio, based in Fairfield Connecticut and owned by Sacred Heart University, has retired, ending his 44-year tenure with the station. He has been succeeded by A. Rima Dael, a development and management executive with over 25 years of experience with nonprofit organizations in the public media, arts and education sectors.
“The WSHU of today is the station that George built, and Sacred Heart University is deeply grateful for his contributions to the university and to the community at large,” said Michael Iannazzi, vice president for marketing & communication and chief of staff at Sacred Heart University. “We are thrilled to have identified an extremely worthy and capable replacement in Rima. She is a leader who has already demonstrated her commitment to WSHU’s mission and will usher the station towards a vibrant future.”
Lombardi was first hired to serve as a part-time radio engineer at WSHU. But as his interest grew, so did his singular vision. Under Lombardi's leadership, the station evolved from a student-run radio station into an NPR member station with an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning regional news team and a steadfast commitment to classical music. What began as the single 91.1 FM frequency grew into an operation broadcasting on 13 frequencies and serving listeners in Fairfield and New Haven Counties, the entire Connecticut shoreline, Suffolk County on Long Island and beyond. Thanks to WSHU’s nationally syndicated classical music program, Sunday Baroque, and that award-winning sports journalist Frank Deford recorded his weekly NPR commentaries at WSHU’s studios for many years, WSHU has become known to listeners throughout the country.
In recognition of his contributions, Sacred Heart University dedicated the soaring entrance space of the new WSHU Broadcast Center as the George J. Lombardi Lobby. Lombardi looks forward to spending his retirement in Maryland with his wife Patricia, their daughters, Karen and Sarah, and three grandchildren.
Dael joined WSHU Public Radio as station manager in September 2019. Prior to that, she was the executive director of development and major gifts at New England Public Radio, where she was an integral part of the team negotiating the strategic alliance between WGBH-TV and New England Public Radio. She also served as the executive director of Country Dance & Song Society, an international arts service organization for North American traditional dance, music and song, during their successful Centennial Celebration and Spread the Joy campaign. She was a founding faculty member of the Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy graduate program at Bay Path University.
“I am both honored and exhilarated by the opportunity to lead the station,” Dael said. “Over the past 16 months, I have worked together with the WSHU team to weather the COVID-19 pandemic — one of the biggest challenges the station has faced. It is clear to me that WSHU has an extremely dedicated staff and an unshakable commitment to serving the community with the best content available. I am convinced that WSHU’s future is bright indeed.”
In her new role, Dael will continue to build WSHU's infrastructure to meet the station’s strategic goals, focus on revenue generation and sustainability and envision a relevant 21st-century radio station committed to sharing the stories of our local communities, the region and the world.
Originally from the Philippines, Dael spent her early years in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, and in several Southeast Asian countries. She received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology and theatre arts from Mt. Holyoke College. Her master’s degree is in nonprofit management from the Milano School of Management and Urban Policy at the New School University where she was a Community Development Finance Fellow. Dael currently lives in West Hartford, Connecticut.
About WSHU Public Radio
WSHU Public Radio is a group of not-for-profit, member-supported radio stations, owned and operated by Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, that brings the best in public broadcasting to 200,000 listeners in Connecticut and Long Island. An NPR member since 1984, the station airs highly regarded national programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, and Marketplace; locally-produced classical music; and its own regional news coverage for which it has won five national Edward R. Murrow Awards and scores of other prizes. Its classical music program, Sunday Baroque, is syndicated and heard on over 200 stations nationwide. In addition to broadcasting on 13 traditional radio frequencies, it streams all of its programs at www.wshu.org.