In this week’s issue… Quinnipiac abandons AM – Seven Mountains crosses border – Statewide net to shutter – MeTVFM enters region – Blueberry shifts in Bangor – Remembering two big Canadian talents
By SCOTT FYBUSH
FCC shutdown notice: With no immediate end in sight to the partial government shutdown, the FCC has remained largely closed since its appropriations ran out January 4. For the moment, the CDBS filing system remains active, so we can bring you at least some news about technical filings that are being made. However, filers cannot currently pay fees for any filings that require them; the Callsign Reservation System (CSRS) is also down, so the last of the pre-shutdown callsign changes appear this week. Because TV repack-related filings are funded by auction revenue, the Commission continues to process those, and we’ll report on them as merited. Stay tuned here and on RadioInsight for updates.
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*We have a soft spot here for anyone trying to do interesting things on the AM radio dial, and so we’ve been watching and listening over the last 22 years as CONNECTICUT‘s Quinnipiac University has programmed a small AM signal with a lively mix of local news, standards and oldies.
Quinnipiac bought silent WXCT (1220 Hamden) in late 1996, paying $500,000 for the station that had been serving the New Haven area with a wide (and frequently-changing) variety of formats and calls since it went on the air as a daytimer in the early 1960s. WDEE, WCDQ, WOMN, WSCR, WNNR – it had been a little bit of everything over the years before finally finding stability in the hands of the Quinnipiac communications program and professor Lou Adler, a veteran of New York City radio who persuaded the college to invest in its own commercial signal.
Under Adler and Quinnipiac, WQUN took on the trappings of the full-service stations of an earlier era, heavy on local and CBS network news and personality jocks, all designed to give Quinnipiac students a taste of what the real world of commercial radio would be like after graduation. (The school also had, and still has, a small class D noncommercial FM station, WQAQ 98.1, that’s run as a more traditional college radio station.)
After Adler’s retirement and eventual death, WQUN continued on, moving to a well-appointed new studio facility in a detached house near campus, adding more sports coverage and emphasizing its streaming as well as its limited AM signal. The station became something of a refuge for commercial radio talents displaced from bigger stations, picking up personalities including Pam Landry and Brian Smith, who’d both spent many years down the road at WPLR.
Along the way, though, the industry changed. As a standalone AM station (it didn’t apply for an FM translator in any of the recent windows), WQUN became somewhat less visible to students, which appeared to reduce its perceived value as a promotional and educational tool for the university. Last week, Quinnipiac announced that it had “re-examin[ed] the prudence of continuing to operate a community radio station,” and decided to shut down WQUN over the next few months.
“The number of students who even consider a career in radio, or who want to
intern at WQUN-AM has declined sharply,” said Quinnipiac VP Lynn Bushnell in a statement that noted the “tectonic” changes in the radio industry.
WQUN will fall silent at the end of May, winding down its operations behind the scenes and closing completely June 30. Quinnipiac’s letter says the Whitney Avenue studio building will be kept for other university uses. As for the AM license (1000 watts by day, 305 watts at night) and the transmitter site and former studio building up on Denslow Hill Road a couple of miles to the west? The university’s statement was silent on that point, but we’d expect those will go up for sale.
And for those who appreciated the quiet professionalism and full-service sound of WQUN over the last two decades? There will be one fewer choice out there on the airwaves, as a changing industry continues to change – and as financially-challenged colleges and universities continue to reconsider whether radio is a part of their futures.
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