The day the music died
This year, the airwaves usually dominated by WQAQ, the university’s only student-run radio station, will fall silent due to the unexpected removal of the station’s radio tower.
“I find it appalling that they took down the tower without considering a relocation site because the tower is so essential to this station, this campus and this community,” said junior Paula Raimo, WQAQ’s general manager.
The 50-foot white tower, which previously stood on the roof of the Carl Hansen Student Center, doubled as a Cingular cell phone service tower. The tower was removed two days prior to student move-in.
Now it lies in limbo as students, faculty and Quinnipiac officials try to decide where the tower should be moved, or whether it should even be reconstructed at all.
The decision to remove the tower seems to have been an executive decision by Quinnipiac University President, John. L. Lahey.
“The University removed the tower, which primarily served as a Cingular cell tower, because it was an unsightly eyesore right in the center of campus,” said John Morgan, associate vice president of Public Relations, in a written statement.
While some faculty members knew about the removal of the tower, students involved with WQAQ discovered the change only upon their return to the university. Even then, students were kept in the dark about the reasoning.
“They didn’t specify a reason; they just said it needed to be taken down,” said junior Valentine Lysikatos, a public relations representative for the station.
Some faculty members, students, and Quinnipiac administrators are now in the process of forming an unofficial committee to find an alternate location for the tower. According to Raimo, one of the most promising options is in the new construction behind the Village residence hall. Other possible locations include the Facilities building or the top of the Commons residence hall.
“There are certain restrictions, especially in dealing with an FM signal,” said David Donnelly, dean of the School of Communications. “Certain height and technical requirements need to be considered. We want to match those needs with the desire of the school to keep an attractive campus.”
Some of the guidelines and restrictions include that the tower must be 50 feet in length, be mounted at least 20 feet off the ground, and an accompanying transmitter must be moved to an accessible location where it can be easily reached should technical difficulties arise.
Raimo also said that the station was required to fill out a significant amount of paperwork just to receive a grace period so that the problem of moving the tower could be resolved.
“First we had to file paperwork with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) through lawyers and Quinnipiac University within ten days of the tower’s removal to get a 30-day ‘silence period,'” she said. “Then within that 30 days, we had to apply to get a full year silence period in order to have time to have the tower moved and start broadcasting again.”
If within that year, WQAQ fails to begin broadcasting on air once more, it will lose its license and the station. Students involved with the station, which typically broadcasts on 98.1 FM, are anxious to get the process of relocation of the antenna started.
“The tower really makes us stand out because we are a student-run station,” Raimo said. “Not many schools have those.”
In the meantime, WQAQ is making the most of its situation and, with support from the Quinnipiac community, is continuing to stream 24 hours a day over their Web site www.wqaq.com.
“We’re still fighting,” said Raimo. “We’re still hoping that this tower gets moved.”