The community radio station WPKN-FM has announced that it is leaving its studio at the campus of the University of Bridgeport for an 1,800-square-foot space at 277 Fairfield Ave. in downtown Bridgeport.
The station, which is at 89.5 on the FM dial, began in 1963 as a campus radio station; the call letters stand for Purple Knights Network, a tribute to the school’s sports mascot. In 1989, when the university was undergoing fiscal difficulties, it spun off WPKN as an independent nonprofit, retaining its studios in the Cox Student Center for a $10-a-year lease.
The station began to seek a new space after the University of Bridgeport announced this summer that it was reconfiguring with three Connecticut schools – Fairfield’s Sacred Heart University, East Hartford’s Goodwin College and Hamden’s Paier College of Art – co-locating several of their programs at the Bridgeport campus.
The station considered 26 spaces before voting on its new location, which will occupy the second-floor offices of the Bijou Square complex that also houses the Bijou Theatre and two restaurant spaces.
Phil Kuchma, CEO of the Bridgeport-headquartered real estate development and property management firm Kuchma Corp., arranged for the station to move into his Bijou Square development. The station expects to be in its new home by mid-2021.
“I’ve been hoping for a number of years to entice WPKN to move downtown,” said Kuchma. “It’s all about finding the right fit, and I think that with so much creative energy in downtown now it’s where the station needs to be. WPKN is also a 24-hour operation, which will help to bring life and new residents down here.”
“As a community radio station,” added WPKN Station Manager Steve di Costanzo, “our move downtown offers WPKN a better platform for community engagement with our listeners, civic groups and cultural allies such as The Bijou Theatre, City Lights Gallery, ArtSpace Read’s – where we hold our annual Music Mash Record Fair – the new NEST, and many others. We think our move will be a catalyst for other creative groups to come and join us.”
WPKN’s 10,000-watt terrestrial signal reaches a listenership of 1.5 million people in Connecticut, Long Island, parts of New York and Massachusetts. As a community radio station, it is staffed by volunteers and is funded by listener support.