For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Jim Motavalli at 203-610-0549
With Grant Funding, WPKN Celebrates Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month with Multi-Disciplinary Programming
With up to $75,000 in funding over three years from the American Rescue Plan, WPKN (89.5 FM and online at www.wpkn.org) plans to greatly expand its coverage and outreach to the African-American and Hispanic communities. WPKN, which recently moved to new quarters at 277 Fairfield Avenue in downtown Bridgeport, was recently declared “the greatest radio station in the world” by The New Yorker magazine.
WPKN’s grant is part of $110 million in federal funding awarded to the city of Bridgeport as a way of responding to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The station plans to use the grant—the largest in the station’s history—for film screenings, lectures, concerts and other visual and performing arts events (as well as 100 hours of on-air programming) to support Greater Bridgeport’s African-American and Hispanic communities.
To help plan the events over the next three years, WPKN has created a community advisory committee headed as chairman by WPKN programmer Ebong Udoma.
Says Udoma, “This grant is much-needed recognition of the great work that WPKN has done over the years in recognizing Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month. With the money we’ll be able to do much more in reaching out to the local African-American and Hispanic communities.”
Confirmed members of the community board include Kim Bianca Williams of VCL Consulting Group, who is also principal in Urban Synergy in Action and a lecturer at the University of Bridgeport; Christina Smith, executive director of Groundwork Bridgeport and a former City Councilor; Rob Fried, director of Band Central; Richard Wenning, former director of Spread Music Now; Reverend Stanley Lord, Bridgeport chapter president of the NAACP; and many others.
Black History Month is celebrated from February 1 to 28, and Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 through October 15. African-Americans constitute 35 percent and Hispanic-Americans 41 percent of Bridgeport’s population, according to the latest census.
According to Joe Celli, host of Soundprint: Asia on WPKN and a longtime musician and arts administrator in Connecticut, “This largest grant in the 58-year history of WPKN will allow us to dig deeper into the recognition of the inestimable contributions that African-Americans have made to virtually every aspect of American culture and society. I’m pleased with the advisory committee that we are developing that currently includes a range of African-American community leaders and the partnerships that are currently being established for a city-wide Black History Month.”
Says WPKN Program Director Valerie Richardson, “WPKN’s programmers have long had a passion for bringing diverse cultures to our airwaves. We are grateful for this new opportunity to create a deeper engagement with Bridgeport’s Black and Latino communities.”
Also celebrating the grant is WPKN Station Manager Steve di Costanzo.
“With our recent move to downtown Bridgeport, there’s a sharper focus on the ‘community’ aspect of WPKN,” he said. “We are looking forward to using this grant to better expand our Black History and Hispanic Heritage Month on-air content and local events while better engaging the communities we serve.”
Founded in 1963 as a 100-watt campus outlet, WPKN is today a 10,000-watt listener-supported community radio station broadcasting at 89.5 FM and streaming online at WPKN.org. WPKN’s terrestrial signal now reaches to a listenership of 1.5 million people in Connecticut, Long Island, parts of New York and Massachusetts. Operating 24/7 and largely run by volunteers, WPKN offers a unique and eclectic mix of live and recorded music, news, public affairs, spoken word, arts and culture and other free-form programming which defy genre. WPKN is proud to be listener-supported, commercial-free, community-driven radio available to the public at no cost, any time, day or night.