Connecticut has a rich radio landscape. The large number of colleges and universities in the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield “knowledge corridor,” as well as the vibrant-while-compact cities that dot our landscape, give Connecticut radio listeners a wealth of options for off-kilter, fascinating and enriching programming on the dial. If you are out of broadcast range for these stations, you can always listen live on the computer, or through an app like TuneIn Radio.
WESU 88.1 FM Middletown
Though it originated as an organ of Wesleyan University in 1939, and the call letters of the station attest to its roots as the college’s in-house station, WESU has moved far beyond its original mission. In tuning into the station these days, you are just as likely to hear about local Middletown politics as a typical college radio music show. The station has moved beyond the boundaries of the campus so much so that DJs and hosts enunciate “W-E-S-U,” saying each individual letter, rather than the original “WES-U” whenever they make their station identifications on air. According to General Manager Ben Michael, the station has more volunteers from the wider Middletown community than from Wesleyan itself. “Our role is to offer a service to the larger community, not just the college,” says Michael. For a true taste of WESU, check out Saturdays: from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. is the long-running Moondog Matinee, playing old school rock ’n’ roll and doo-wop. Then from 1-3 p.m. is original Italian-language programming, a testament to the lasting influence of Italian immigration to the Middletown area.
WHUS 91.7 FM Storrs
A classic college radio station, WHUS performs a valuable service for the students of the University of Connecticut and those who live in the state’s northeast corner. With more than 100 different music shows, you’ll be sure to hear some of the newest music out there. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the station hosts a live public affairs show for “groups underrepresented by mainstream media,” according to the station’s website. The station also gives students and community members a broadcast training program, so students can learn what it takes to be a DJ or host, and can learn the ropes on the technical equipment that goes into making radio.
WXCI 91.7 FM Danbury
This college station of Western Connecticut State University has the variety of weird and kooky music that you might expect of college radio, but also more student-run news talk and sports shows than many college stations. Tune in to hear what’s happening on the WCSU campus, and on the weekends for coverage of WCSU athletics, where students try their hand at calling live sports. Founded in 1973 as a 10-watt station, WXCI now broadcasts at 3,000 watts and can be heard throughout western Connecticut.
WNHU 88.7 FM West Haven
Also founded in 1973, this college station broadcasts from the University of New Haven’s campus in West Haven, and features the eclectic mix of music common to college radio. While the station has gone through many changes over the past 40 years, listeners can still expect the same independent spirit from the New Haven area’s most prominent college station. Former WPLR morning drive time and current WNPR host Bruce Barber started as the station’s general manager in January 2016, bringing decades of experience.
WPKN 89.5 FM Bridgeport
This Bridgeport station, housed on the campus of the University of Bridgeport, is perhaps one of the strangest radio stations in the state. In the world of independent and free-form radio, “strange” is among the best qualities a station can have. The station has been entirely independent of the college since 1989, and it sure sounds like it. Highlights include the Sunday night blues show that has been on air for roughly four decades, and the truly indescribable mish mash of sound which elevates the use of archival sounds into an art form, Radio Nothing. According to General Manager Steve di Costanzo, roughly 25 shows are devoted to local community programming. He says it’s not always “easy” to listen to WPKN, but it is ultimately worth it.
WNHH 103.5 FM New Haven
Born of the independent media outfit that is Connecticut’s Online Journalism Project, New Haven’s newest station only received its broadcasting license in August 2015, and it has one of the smallest broadcast radiuses on this list. But what it lacks in listener range, it makes up for in pure creative energy. Most of WNHH’s programming is news and talk. The subjects of the shows are as diverse as New Haven itself, with topics ranging from urban planning and sports to local music and food. Working at WNHH is “exhilarating,” says Lucy Gellman, the station manager. “On any given day, the variety will just be crazy.” WNHH is the most recent project for the New Haven Independent, a news website that covers the Elm City.