Larry Berger (Founder and Executive Director) manages day-to-day operations and serves as host of The Saturday Light Brigade. Larry has been involved in public broadcasting since 1975 and holds degrees in engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University and has 20 years of experience as a project engineer and manager for local industry. He currently serves as the President of the Board of Trustees at Manchester Academic Charter School, on the Board of Directors of Manchester Youth Development Corporation, and on the Advisory Board at Pittsburgh International Children’s Theater. He also has served on the board of three other nonprofit organizations.
Rikki Berger (Executive Producer) is responsible for managing the hundreds of incoming calls that come into The Saturday Light Brigade radio program as well as for maintenance of project files, accounting and financial records and the SLB music library. She also serves as Secretary of the Board of Directors of SLB Radio Productions, Inc. Rikki holds degrees in geology, hydrogeology and nursing.
Jon Bindley (Staff Educator) graduated from Duquesne University in 2012 with a degree in English & Corporate Communication. One month later he moved to Nashville, Tennessee in pursuit of song-crafting and performance. In the fall of 2013, Jon began his teaching career as a K-12 substitute in the Metro Nashville Public School system. He returned to Pittsburgh in the summer of 2014 and joined SLB in the fall of that year. When he’s not engaging youth in the classroom or in the studio, Jon enjoys listening to records, reading, writing, and making new friends.
Justin Chechile (Technical Associate) joined SLB in 2005. A degreed audio engineer, Justin is a Western Massachusetts native and graduate of Massachusetts Communications College. Prior to joining SLB, Justin worked in production at several major commercial television stations and recording studios. He also is an accomplished songwriter, guitarist and drummer.
Robert Gray (Technical Director) has worked with cutting edge audio software and hardware for 10-plus years with deep experience in Cubase 4.0, Reason 3.0, Protools 7.3 and Adobe Audition. With SLB since 2009, Rob has strong working knowledge in audio engineering, web design, graphic design, computer science, electronics along with the science of sound as well as an ability to enthusiastically convey this knowledge to children in workshops he has led. Rob also presents music in public settings, including special events, and is a musician and turntablist.
Chad Green (Technical Associate) joined SLB in 2015. He holds a BA in Communication from Waynesburg University. He also studied music technology at the Contemporary Music Center in Nashville. Chad is an alumnus of the Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience (PULSE) where he spent a year serving non-profit organizations around Pittsburgh. A life-long learner, Chad continues to hone his skills in audio production, graphic design, photography and videography. Chad is a musician, outdoorsman, and can be found exploring Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods by bike.
Erika May (Staff Educator) – known on stage as EMay and in the classroom as Miss May – joined SLB in 2011 with a background in the performing arts. She graduated from the Fine Arts program at Carnegie Mellon University in 2005 before establishing herself as a songwriter, musician, choreographer and dance teacher. Her experience extends behind-the-scenes as an event director and producer; live and in-studio sound engineer; professional and creative writer; as well as business owner and community organizer. She is excited to be a new part of the SLB team, encouraging children to find, develop and share their own thoughtful and creative voices.
Ben Rutkowski (Staff Educator) holds a degree in English from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and joined SLB full-time in 2012 after several years of part-time internships. Mr. Rutkowski has co-taught daily classes to hundreds of North Side students (Grades K to 5) and also frequently works with children at festivals and community events at which SLB appears. A gifted writer, Mr. Rutkowski demonstrates empathy and understanding with respect to the challenges students may face when struggling with the written word.
Chanessa Schuler (Multimedia Specialist) has a degree in Mass Media (2012) and a great interest in youth voices in our community. Chanessa was a mentor and facilitator to high school students in the Youth Media Advocacy Project (YMAP) which serves Pittsburgh Public Schools and other schools in the area and she shares her ideas for increasing youth voice with other media and education professionals in the YouthMap Task Group. She dedicates time to placing students, faculty and staff at various non-profit organizations for Carlow University’s annual community service day and Alternative Spring Break. She has produced videos for alumni events, churches, stage plays and contests. Excited to be at SLB.
Sarah Siplak (Director of Programs) Sarah joined SLB in 2011. She graduated from Duquesne University with a BS in Music Therapy in 1998. Since graduating, she’s toured and performed as a professional musician, worked as a nanny, a camp counselor, a waitress and most importantly, is a mom to Wyatt, a budding musician and sound enthusiast. Sarah has worked extensively in the classroom over the past 2 years in both a daily and after school setting. She is an avid listener to podcasts, and feels strongly that encouraging and enabling youth to share their voices is an important part of growing up in a technological era. Her favorite part of working at SLB is witnessing the creativity of youth presented with a microphone and an eager ear.
Tad Wissel (Staff Educator) graduated from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Before joining the SLB team as a Staff Educator in the Spring of 2014, Tad worked as an on-site engineer and promotions coordinator at Clear Channel Pittsburgh’s 970 ESPN dating back to 2011. When he’s not working with young people in local classrooms or editing audio back at the studio, Tad enjoys disc-related sports, listening to the radio while driving, and generally being outdoors.