Staff Of WPSC-FM, William Paterson University

Sean Adams/WCBS 880

Stories From Main Street: N.J. College Radio Station Steps In To Help Hurricane-Ravaged Puerto Rico

August 05, 2018 - 9:00 pm
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WAYNE, N.J. (WCBS 880) -- Last year, Hurricane Maria ravaged Vieques, Puerto Rico and damaged the transmitter and facilities of the community radio station.

Enter the students from WPSC-FM at William Paterson University, who traveled to the Island last January and donated supplies to get the Vieques station back on its feet.

As Sean Adams reported in this week’s edition of “Stories from Main Street,” William Paterson University communications professor Lori Ramos turned to her students at WPSC to assemble the team to go to the small, struggling island.

“My friend told me when water was delivered on one side of the island, the other side of the island did not know that there was water to be found,” Ramos said.

Staff Of WPSC-FM, William Paterson University
Sean Adams/WCBS 880

WPSC station manager Sebastian Escobar said they helped get the community station back on air.

“And as part of that initiative was to start a new program that’ll be played on (WPSC’s) ‘Brave New Radio,’ as well as on Radio Vieques,” Escobar said.

The students also helped set up emergency communications, noting that ham radio works when all else fails in communications.

Staff Of WPSC-FM, William Paterson University
Sean Adams/WCBS 880

Tiernan Doyle and Matthew Mullins distributed amateur radio operator equipment.

“We programmed it with some basic frequencies that would be usable anywhere on the island,” Mullins said.

It filled the gap when there was no cell service and no internet.

“It allowed us to basically provide people a way to get the word out when there was no other way else,” Doyle said.

The students saw desperation up close.

“He was about 95 years old. He was hunched over cracking coconuts in his backyard,” Mullins said. “The thing that got to me, I mean, I was looking at his boots. He had metal wire going through the base of his shoes just to hold them together because they were so worn. He had nothing.”

Mullins helped that man get a new mattress.

Staff Of WPSC-FM, William Paterson University
Sean Adams/WCBS 880

Professor Rob Quicke, chair of the communications department, is proud of his students for making a difference with a supposedly antiquated medium.

“Radio, they say it’s dying, and rumors of its death are greatly exaggerated,” Quicke said. “Radio’s alive and kicking, and radio is a lifeline.”