WQSU Hits a New High Note
Susquehanna University's student-run radio station, WQSU-FM, has been on the cutting edge of collegiate broadcasting since it hit the airwaves in 1967. And thanks to a recent upgrade to a high-definition (HD) format, the station remains a trailblazer among its competitors. Only four other college radio stations-and 75 commercial radio stations-in Pennsylvania have switched to HD. The upgrade provides better sound quality and allows the station to reach a larger audience via sub-channels. The move to HD follows several other advancements in recent years, including the addition of an automated broadcast system, digital soundboard and online streaming.
"Last year, it was determined that we are the most powerful student-run radio station in Pennsylvania," says Chad Hershberger, communications instructor and practicum adviser for WQSU. "We take that distinction very seriously, as we constantly are working to upgrade our equipment and programming to be a premier radio station in the Central Susquehanna Valley."
In addition to technological upgrades, WQSU has added new specialty programming that offers listeners more news reports, campus sporting events, and "underground shows" highlighting its eclectic library, capable of playing music nonstop for nearly 100 days.
"Because we are an educational, noncommercial broadcasting entity, we take seriously our mission of not only teaching students to be broadcasters, but also serving the public interest by providing music and programming that you can't hear anywhere else in our region," Hershberger says.
Steven Gebhardt '16, a theatre major from Park Ridge, N.J., who serves as WQSU's assistant operations manager, thinks the student-run nature of the station makes it even more popular. "WQSU is unlike any other radio station because we are unscripted, live and full of natural human error," Gebhardt says. "I think that's what separates us from other stations. We keep it real with our listeners."
Its propensities for challenging conventional radio and embracing new technologies have also earned the station plenty of accolades through the years. The most recent came last spring when WQSU won its third consecutive first-place award for Sports Play-by-Play from the Pennsylvania Associated Press Broadcasters Association (PAPBA). It was the station's eighth PAPBA award in the last nine years, leaving no doubt that WQSU will continue setting the pace for what a college radio can be well into the future.