October 30, 2017
88.9 WQSU the Pulse celebrated its 50thanniversary with a gathering of alumni, current students, faculty and staff during Homecoming-Reunion Weekend.
“WQSU is a tool for students to gain experience and learn broadcasting,” said general manager Dawn Benfer. “We are training, mentoring, preparing and molding students into the next generation of broadcasters.”
WQSU-FM began as the Susquehanna Radio Association in 1965. Clyde Spitzer, a 1938 graduate, gave the fledgling club some equipment to set up a station. In 1967, the Federal Communications Commission assigned the station its call letters.
Since then, the station has grown from a 10-watt operation serving little more than the Selinsgrove community to a 12,000-watt station, making it the most powerful student-run college FM radio station in Pennsylvania, serving approximately one-third of the state. In 2013, WQSU began broadcasting in HD.
Larry Augustine served as the station’s general manager from 1967 until 2016 when he retired as professor of communications and theatre.
“WQSU led the Valley in playing progressive music,” Augustine said. “There was no British invasion in the Valley. SU broke away from the tradition of playing (only) classical music.”
Student officers lead departments, such as news, music, production, sports, promotions and sales. The officers also lead a staff of 80 students.
“We are giving them the same experience at WQSU as they will receive in a commercial radio station or another non-commercial station,” Benfer said. “They gain the experience and confidence that will make them ideal candidates for a career in the broadcast industry.”
Programming today consists mostly of modern and alternative rock, although there are specialty shows of many other genres. WQSU also airs SU’s weekly chapel service and SU sports coverage.
The station operates live from 9 a.m. until 2 a.m. during the academic year and from noon until 2 a.m. during the summer. When the station is not broadcasting live from its studios in the Degenstein Campus Center, it simulcasts WVIA-FM programs, including some from National Public Radio.