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UConn Advance

Torrington radio on air

March 28, 1997

The Torrington campus celebrated St. Patrick's Day in style with the launch of a new community radio station.

From a tiny studio on campus, sparsely equipped with basic broadcasting equipment, a selection of vinyl records and a handful of CDs, WAPJ-FM swung into action March 17 with the "Star-Spangled Banner" and Glenn Miller's "In the Mood."

The new station, the first at one of UConn's regional campuses, is "a very significant step," associate provost Fred Maryanski said at a reception before the station went on the air. "We are a land-grant university. Our mission is to serve people, and public radio by definition serves people," he said.

The new radio station will be staffed by volunteers from the Torrington community. Adriane Lyon, director of the Torrington campus, described the project as "a wonderful marriage between UConn - where it will reside physically - and the people of Torrington."

Lyon, who plans to broadcast regular information about what's happening at the Torrington campus, has a vision of UConn-Torrington as the hub of higher education in Litchfield County. The radio station brings her vision a step closer to reality.

The Torrington campus has had a particularly close relationship with local residents since the early 1980s, when members of the community rallied to save the campus from closing. The Litchfield County Higher Education Committee, a volunteer organization formed at that time to keep UConn in Torrington, now holds the Federal Communications Commission license for WAPJ. Although the call letters have no particular significance, committee chair Marvin Maskowsky has dubbed the station "Will Always Provide Joy."

The station, funded by private donors, will serve an estimated 50,000 people in Torrington and surrounding towns. It will offer a menu of public service programming on topics of interest to local residents. In addition to educational information, there will be shows on cooking, gardening, health, sports and a variety of classical music and jazz.

At 89.9 FM, WAPJ will be on the air 24 hours a day, with eight hours of original programming from 8 a.m.-noon and 4-8 p.m. weekdays. It also will broadcast overnight programming from WWUH, the University of Hartford radio station, and afternoon and weekend programs from WMNR in Monroe. The station can be heard up to 15 miles away.

WAPJ will offer plenty of opportunities for the University community, Lyon said. Faculty members will serve as resources for much of the programming and UConn students will be able to help out in the studio or host their own radio shows. Some may choose to do credit-bearing internships with the station as part of a communication sciences class.

"This is good for the University and good for the county," Lyon said.

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