Online petition to save WQUN gaining traction

University urged to rethink decision to close AM radio station

Matthew Fortin

Why would the university want to throw something so valuable away?” Hamden zoning enforcement officer Holly Masi asks. “I mean when I think about that, it sits like a pit in my stomach.”

She’s referring to WQUN, the AM radio station owned and operated by Quinnipiac University. Administration announced at the beginning of the month their plans to shutter the station come June 30th. WQUN’s final broadcast is set for May 31st.

“What I want to see is for them to rethink this decision,” Masi said.

And she’s in good company. Masi started an online petition to save WQUN, and it’s already garnered nearly 600 supporters– many of whom have added heartfelt comments about their affinity for the station’s programming and personalities.

“The feedback is universal,” Masi said. “Everybody is in complete disbelief. Folks are looking for a more reasonable explanation that makes sense as to why the university made this decision.”

The only explanation offered by the university was in a statement released by Vice President of public affairs, Lynn Bushnell. In it, Bushnell details a lack of student interest and shifting media scape as the main reason behind the shutdown. The university denied our requests for further comment or an interview with station personnel.

Masi, who said that her town hall colleagues are unanimously in agreement that WQUN is invaluable to the town and surrounding communities, counters that with several benefits she says WQUN provides Hamden.

“It’s the place that everybody can go to get information as well as to be entertained,” Masi said. It gives residents the opportunity to interact with the university as well as with the students. If it goes dark, I think it’s it almost another symbolic wall that goes up between the neighborhood and the university.”

WQUN came to be in 1997, when the university bought the 1220 AM signal. Since, it has offered listeners classical music and local news coverage.

“I was upset being someone who works in radio,” general manager of QU’s student run radio station WQAQ Emma Spagnoulo said. “Anytime I hear a radio station is being shut down, it just breaks my heart.”

She said that she has not noticed administration’s assertion that student interest in radio among is waning.

“We’ve totally expanded,” Spagnoulo explained. “We have way more shows than when I was a freshman. Our membership is over 150. We have over shows every week. So there is definitely an interest in radio. And I know a lot of people who are interning at radio stations.”
Unfortunately for the radio industry, that is not the case across the country.

According to the Radio Advertising Bureau, 173 commercial radio stations were closed between 2016 and 2018. 2016 was the first year in radio history that the number of registered stations decreased.

But here in Hamden, Masi says that her and her town hall colleagues– including Mayor Leng– are all in agreement on one thing.

“I’m talking about people across the entire board– people who don’t agree on anything– all agreed on this one issue that this was just a decision that nobody can quite wrap their head around,” Masi said. “I mean in all honesty I kind of questioned whether the new president listens to this radio station because I think if she did she did she wouldn’t have made such a rash decision to eliminate it.”

Masi says that anyone who wants to support WQUN should find sign her petition online, or head to Whitney Donuts to sign a paper copy.