WQAQ tower to be rebuilt by May, back on the air by fall
A new transmission tower for WQAQ will be erected in the West Woods parking lot by May, thereby precipitating the student radio station’s return to the airwaves for the start of next semester, Dean of Students Manuel Carreiro said Jan. 31.
The plans are subject to renewal of the radio station’s broadcasting license by the Federal Communications Commission, Carreiro said. The regulating body will almost certainly renew the station’s license, as long as the new tower is constructed by May 1, the expiration date of the current license, he said.
“Our intent is to put up a new antenna [before we leave for summer break] so that when we come back to school in the fall, we will have WQAQ broadcasting over the airwaves again,” Carreiro said.
The station that dubs itself “the soundtrack of Quinnipiac” was taken off the airwaves when university officials removed its transmission tower from the roof of the Carl Hansen Student Center on Aug. 19, 2006, WQAQ general manager Paula Raimo said. Although Raimo had been informed by university officials about the possibility of the tower’s removal, she was stunned and angered by their actions.
“Obviously, I was upset. I was rather distraught. But as soon as the initial shock and anger [subsided], I had to take it upon myself right then and there that this was not going to be the end,” said Raimo, a junior media studies major from Beverly, Mass. ” . That was the day that WQAQ started to fight back and work with the administration to do everything in our power to get the tower back.”
Raimo has spent the past six months working with university officials toward the goal of getting a new transmission tower for WQAQ. Included among this group are Carreiro; Professor Grace Levine, the faculty advisor to WQAQ; Ed Kovacs; the director of the student center Joseph Rubertone, the associate vice president for facilities administration at Quinnipiac; an engineer; and the university’s Washington, D.C.-based lawyer. The group has periodically reported its progress to university president John Lahey, in addition to Student Government Association president Jennifer Rosenbaum and former SGA president Ross Greenstein.
The steps leading up to the radio station’s planned return to the airwaves have been an extensive affair. The process has involved getting the approval from various university bodies to embark on the project, getting the approval from the FCC to keep the radio station’s frequency, determining the exact location of the new tower, determining the dimensions of the tower itself and then writing a collaborative proposal and sending it to the university’s lawyer, Carreiro said. The cost of the entire project has not been determined, he said, but the university will disclose such information once it is calculated.
As for Raimo, she is elated by the likelihood of WQAQ’s return to the airwaves.
“I am thrilled that the university has gone ahead with plans to put the tower back up. There were points where it was questionable, it was scary,” she said. “And WQAQ had to do its share of working with the administration. But, we’re getting our tower back and it’s a great thing.”
The future of the radio station was a common topic of discussion among students during the first few weeks of last semester. But the widespread concern about the future of the college media organization seemed to wane as time progressed.
Despite the absence of any protests by radio station staffers and their supporters, Raimo dismisses the notion that her WQAQ colleagues had grown indifferent to the future of the station.
“From Day One, we’ve had support not only from the WQAQ staff but from the whole university. And while that may have died down with the rest of the university, it has never died down with WQAQ staff,” she said. “. As the general manager, I made the decision to work with the school, rather than immediately protesting.”
The reason the 50-foot cylindrical structure was removed from the student center in August, university officials have said, was that they considered it unsightly. In the more than five months that have passed since then, the station at 98.1 FM has been unable to broadcast over the airwaves but has instead broadcast through its Web site at www.wqaq.com.
Speaking at a Student Government Association meeting Sept. 20, 2006, Carreiro told the 41-member body and at least one reporter that university officials removed the tower because it was “aesthetically unappealing.”
Asked last week if university administrators had sought to censor students in any way through the removal of the radio tower, Carreiro bristled.
“One reason the radio station is so important to me is that I do consider it to be a part of student life,” Carreiro said. “. I think the radio station, just like other student co-curricular activities, is essential to their learning process.”