After 12 years of broadcasting, the University of Connecticut’s radio station WHUS stopped airing the independent alternative news program “Democracy Now!”
The listeners were not given a warning before the program was cancelled. A listener, Clay Colt, described to the Daily Campus that on May 18, the program aired as usual, and on May 19, a student music show was on the air instead. Many listeners, including Colt, want to know why the program was canceled. Colt even started a petition with Bill Potvin to bring the 720 signatures needed. Amy Shaw started another petition on Change.org that has gained 205 signatures. A few listeners attended a WHUS board meeting to voice their concerns. They were first on the agenda and given 15 minutes to present their argument.
Danielle Chaloux, the general manager of WHUS and UConn senior stated that the biggest issue was a lack of personnel and a desire to devote resources into producing local content and helping students get involved.
Multiple people have discussed the importance of this show to the University of Connecticut. A comment on Shaw’s Change.org petition summarized this importance well. Travis Zuidema posted, “…In this critical election year, it is imperative that WHUS live up to its motto of ‘radio for the people’ and continue this vital public service of providing this unique voice to the people of Eastern, Connecticut and the students of the University.” The program was also a great tool for the classroom. Alumnus and retired U.S. History professor, Dr. Larry Goodheart, utilized Democracy Now! as a classroom tool; he stated that the program brings attention to relevant human rights issues.
Although Democracy Now! is still available online for free, there is a possibility the program will return to WHUS. This would greatly benefit UConn because it would provide students with more opportunities to get engaged with this type of program, and it would get the university’s name attached once again to a great service. In order for that to happen, volunteers must be willing to monitor the broadcast while it is being aired to ensure there are no violations of FCC regulations. WHUS is a student run organization, and it is up to volunteers to decide what programs are most beneficial to the student body and surrounding areas. Democracy Now! offers great experience to its volunteers and intellectual growth to its listeners. With so many petition signatures, UConn should look for volunteers to bring back this beloved program.
Alyssa Luis is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus opinion section. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.