The two stations were part of the University’s Public News/Talk network that was also heard on 1260 WSHU Westport CT, 1340 WYBC New Haven CT, 89.9 WSUF Noyack NY and 103.3 WQQQ Sharon CT. The network claims that the WSTC/WNLK duo had less than 900 listeners combined.
The Fairfield County region served by the stations will still be served by WSHU’s Talk/Classical service that’s heard on 91.1 WSHU-FM Fairfield and 90.1 W211AI Stamford. Sacred Heart intends to place the two stations on the market for sale. The University purchased them in 2011 from Cox Radio for $500,000.
The WSHU Public Radio Group has announced that as of Monday, Jan. 25, it will no longer broadcast on WSTC (1400 AM, Stamford) and WNLK (1350 AM, Norwalk). These two AM stations are currently up for sale.
The Group will continue to broadcast the WSTC-WNLK program schedule on Westport WSHU AM (1260) and New Haven-based WYBC AM (1340). Programming on the Group’s other 10 stations and translators in Connecticut and on Long Island is not affected. WSTC and WNLK are among the smallest stations within the Group’s holdings, and the most recently acquired.
“This was a strategic decision,” said WSHU General Manager George Lombardi. “We are a non-profit organization and a community resource. We have a responsibility to our supporters to make smart business decisions, and we have found that it is not financially viable to operate these stations at this time.”
WSHU acquired WSTC and WNLK in early 2013, planning to use them as an opportunity to offer local listeners the highly regarded public radio programs the Group is known for, but with the added benefit of Fairfield County-specific feature stories, weather, and traffic.
Lombardi continued, “We operate in highly competitive markets, and unfortunately, on average, only about 900 listeners tune in to the combined AM stations. We haven’t been able to grow listenership—or listener support—at the rate we had hoped.”
The Group has chosen to discontinue broadcasting on the AM stations now, instead of waiting for the official sale, because on-air fundraising is set to begin at the end of the month. “We never want to be in a position where we ask listeners to contribute toward something that won’t be there for them in the long term,” explained Lombardi.
Tom Kuser, WSHU’s Program Director and local host of the acclaimed newsmagazine Morning Edition, said that there will be little impact on the amount of programs that the Group provides the community. “Listeners can still enjoy all the in-depth local coverage, NPR News, and highly regarded programs like Marketplace, Fresh Air, and The Takeaway either via online streaming, or traditional radio frequencies.” A complete list is available at http://wshu.org/schedule.