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General Category => General Radio Discussion => Topic started by: Ct Yankee on October 14, 2020, 1821 UTC

Title: WQUN (Hamden, CT) sold to Boston Radio Veteran, becomes WATX (UPDATE)
Post by: Ct Yankee on October 14, 2020, 1821 UTC

First a year of radio silence, then three weeks of relaying NOAA weather from Meriden, CT this spring, followed by another few months of radio silence - hopefully the fine local format and great music will return.


New Owner: http://www.broadcastideas.com
Title: Re: WQUN (Hamden, CT) sold to Boston Radio Veteran, becomes WATX
Post by: Ct Yankee on May 12, 2021, 1557 UTC
Update in the New Haven Register May 12, 2021:

(Two side notes: 1) I have yet to pick up the station and I am 12 miles away as the crow flies  and 2) I recall mentioned Dick Summer with a romantic/pillow talk overnight program on WNBC in the 70's).

Maybe Redhat can let them borrow some of his "X" catchphrases and station ID's  ;). (See in bold below.)

"WQUN went silent in May 2019 and Quinnipiac officials had a year to sell the station to someone who would return the station to the air or risk losing control of the license. After buying some extra time with the FCC by broadcasting National Weather Serice reports for a couple of weeks, Quinnipiac officials announced they had signed a letter of intent to sell the license to what then was an unidentified buyer, later revealed to be Smidt.

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in Connecticut in March 2020 didn’t help Smidt’s efforts to get the station back on the air. He had until May 21 to get WATX on the air or run the risk of losing control of the license he had just bought.

“It was a little more complicated than I had expected,” he said. “I only made one trip to the Connecticut before getting the station back on the air and the rest was done remotely. But I’m fortunate to have a lot of old friends in radio who live in Connecticut, many of whom are engineers.”

When the station operated as WQUN, the station’s transmitter towers and an emergency studio were located on Denslow Hill Road in Hamden near Sacred Heart Academy.

But Quinnipiac University completed the sale of the transmitter towers and property on Denslow Hill Road to a Florida-based company, Vertical Bridge, on July 31, 2020. School officials did not say how much Vertical Bridge, which claims to be the nation’s largest private owner and manager of wireless communication infrastructure, paid the school.

WATX’s low-power transmitter is located somewhere near the former WQUN site, according to Smidt. He expects to spend much of this summer trying to find a more long-term transmitter location and boosting the signal as close to the 1,000 watts during the day and 330 watts at night it was licensed for as WQUN.

“We’re going to increase the (transmitting) power a little later this week,” Smidt said. “But it’s just not possible under the current situation to broadcast at anywhere near full power.”

Right now, the only voice heard on the station is radio broadcast veteran Dick Summer, who was a well-known on-air personality at WBZ (1030 AM) in the mid-1960s and later went to work at WNBC radio in New York City.

Every three or four songs, which on Monday afternoon ranged from The Platters’ mid 1950s hit “The Great Pretender” to Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” from 1979, Summer’s recorded voice would come on and give the station identification as well of one of several catchphrases such as “X marks the spot” or “Your X wants you back.

Once he has more permanent transmitter location secured, Smidt said the next step is a promotional campaign, using billboards to familiarize the community with the new call letters and format. He expects to tap into his vast network of trusted friends in radio and hire additional on-air personnel, including newscasters.

“We want to be a full-service station, with music, news and commentary on local issue,” he said. “To do that, we need to hire a few key people. Hopefully, I will be able to do that with professionals I know who have their own home studios.”

Steve Kalb, instructor in residence for the journalism program at the University of Connecticut, said in order for Smidt to make WATX work on a long-term basis, he needs to do anything in his power to improve the station’s broadcast signal and then keep his overhead costs low. Kalb knows the New Haven media market well, having worked for nearly 14 years at WELI (960 AM).

“Because of how little it cost him to acquire the station’s license, he’s probably not losing an money right now,” Kalb said. “I think there is a real market for local radio news and on radio in the Hamden and New Haven area, nobody is doing it right now. But the operating costs have to be as close to zero as possible.”

Kalb said there are examples of radio stations elsewhere in New England using an ultra-local music, news and community service format. He said WADT, 95.9 FM, in Marshfield, Mass., has successfully operated for decades as the hometown radio station for communities south of Boston.

“We’ve had people report that they have heard it from between 8 and 10 miles away,” Smidt said Monday.