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Ban On Heavy Metal Music At Campus Radio Station Upsets Students

May 4, 1988 GMT

SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. (AP) _ The student manager of the Seton Hall University’s radio station Tuesday promised to fight a school-imposed ban on heavy metal music as an infringement of freedom of speech.

David J. Packer, a senior from Bergenfield, said lawyers have offered to represent students at WSOU-FM in challenging the ban, which went into effect April 27.

″We’re going to try and fight it every way we can,″ he said. ″We feel the station should be the voice of the students and not the university hierarchy. It’s been that way for 40 years and it shouldn’t change.″

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Michael Collazzo, the station’s faculty adviser, said the recent suicide of an Edison youth who listened to heavy metal helped persuade administrators at the Catholic school to ban the music from the station’s programming.

″A lot of people, including myself, feel it’s only a matter of time before another teen commits suicide and investigators blame the music the child heard on WSOU,″ Collazzo said.

″And when that hits the headlines, that would be irreparable damage for a Catholic university.″

WSOU’s listening area includes Edison, the home of 16-year-old Walter Kulkusky, who shot himself in the mouth April 25 in woods behind Edison High School.

Middlesex County Prosecutor Alan Rockoff said the death was influenced by heavy metal music. The teen-ager was found with a suicide note and a cassette tape with the heavy metal songs ″Suicide Solution″ and ″Goodbye to Romance″ by Ozzy Osbourne, prosecutors said.

Authorities and university officials have not suggested that Kulkusky was influenced by WSOU’s programming in particular.

Although Packer promised to fight the ban, he said he was not sure what students could do because the university’s board of trustees holds the station’s license.

Collazzo said students are subject to university policy because the trustees hold the license.

He said the station’s handbook states: ″It is the policy of WSOU to air music which is consistent with, or at the very least not in direct conflict with the moral and philosphical values of Seton Hall University (i.e. the values of the Roman Catholic Church).″

WSOU changed its format two years ago from a middle-of-the-road format to hard rock, but Packer said students did not play heavy metal exclusively. He estimated the station’s listeners at 130,000 and said numbers increased after the change.

Meanwhile, a panel of broadcasters and alumni appointed 1 1/2 months ago to see how the station can serve as a ″vehicle of communication of the university’s image and role″ is due to report within 60 days, said Will Rockett, chairman of the department of communications.