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Eastern students, faculty produce WPKN documentary: 'The Greatest Radio Station in the World'

Published on July 19, 2022

Eastern students, faculty produce WPKN documentary: 'The Greatest Radio Station in the World'

Radio tower logo with text, "The Greatest Radio Station in the World"

A faculty-student team from Eastern Connecticut State University produced a documentary on the legendary Bridgeport-based radio station WPKN-FM (89.5 FM). Titled “The Greatest Radio Station in the World,” the documentary was directed by Communication Lecturer Cob Carlson with support from communication students (now alumni) Sara Szogas ’21 (Stratford), Anthony Granchelli ’20 (Norwalk) and John Pellegrino ’22 (North Branford). 

The documentary premiered on June 26 during the station’s 60th year celebration at Bijou Theatre in Bridgeport. Another showing will occur on July 23 at the Bridgeport Film Festival in the Klein Memorial Auditorium. 

Carlson’s history with WPKN dates back to the 1980s, when he served as a volunteer fundraiser. He lives in Boston now, but during a stint in Bridgeport, his love for the station compelled him to begin working on the documentary five years ago. 

The archives on the station’s rich 60-year history and video footage from an old friend inspired him to recruit Szogas, Granchelli and Pellegrino. Carlson wanted the students to learn about how this unique institution in Bridgeport has been successfully operating for six decades. Carlson said the student contributions were incredibly valuable. 

Cob Carlson at WPKN

“Sara and Anthony helped me by filming a special radio station event in March 2020. Anthony also helped film some b-roll of programmers doing their shows at the station. John did all the artistic graphic design on the lower thirds for the film. This work was absolutely critical.” 

The students were more than happy to help. Granchelli wears many hats as a road production assistant at World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), traveling to different cities to produce WWE's live television shows—"Smackdown,” “RAW,” “NXT” and more. He produces many of the live/taped backstage segments that air on the shows, which entail working directly with talent, lighting and crew.

“Working on Professor Carlson’s documentary helped me so much with my career,” said Granchelli. “He really challenged me to go out of my comfort zone and was very detailed in how he wanted me to get certain shots and interviews for the film. I always remembered these conversations because they helped me learn how to view documentary filmmaking and where to follow the story in my filmmaking.

“At WWE I carry these same traits when I’m going over a location for a shoot: inspecting the lighting, using the space to the best of its abilities and bringing life out of the characters on screen. I cannot thank Mr. Carlson enough for allowing me to work on this project with him because it really ignited my love for filmmaking and production in general. I really hope to work more in documentary filmmaking in the future.”

Left to right: John Pellegrino ’22, Sara Szogas '21, and Anthony Granchelli '20

“Volunteering with Professor Carlson was such an eye-opening and fantastic experience,” said Szogas, who serves as an event planner in the Account Support Division of New York City-based Silhouette Group. “Filming B-Roll and doing interviews at the radio station helped me better understand the decision-making process when it comes to expressing your creativity through film. Working in my field of event planning, I now have a different perspective on how I want the events captured. I can now confidently say I have all the right tools, physically and mentally, to ensure every take is flawless.” 

Pellegrino works with the West Haven Twilight League in West Haven, where he is  responsible for setting up and executing broadcasts of their games this summer. The league streams on Facebook most weekdays during the summer. He is seeking a full-time position as a media specialist for a business or organization, and also wants to return to school to pursue a master's degree in communications. 

Cob Carlson presents "The Greatest Radio Station in the World" at the June 26 premiere at the Bijou Theatre in Bridgeport.

It was in Carlson’s video field production course last fall that Pellegrino learned of the documentary project. “I tried my best to be involved with every aspect of media production at Eastern, whether it was producing the university's news show, creating videos for the athletic department's web pages or writing articles for the campus newspaper. So when Professor Carlson asked for assistance on his film, I was more than happy to contribute. It was another great opportunity for me to use what I've learned at Eastern, and I'm proud to be a part of something with a lot of time and dedication put into it.” 

Carlson said Covid-19 prevented him from using more students. He credited Steve Kesten, audio-visual multimedia assistant in Media Services, for being instrumental by lending small cables and microphone stands during filming. He was also thankful to Andrew Utterback, chair of the Communication Department, whose support he called “terrific” over the two years it took to produce the documentary.

Most radio stations cater to a certain audience in the marketplace and orient their programming to these targeted groups. Not WPKN-FM. The documentary showcases how WPKN-FM, founded in 1963 at the University of Bridgeport, is supported by a wide range of people from the community who serve as disc jockeys, news anchors and commentators with their own talk shows. Some of the personalities have been on the air at WPKN Radio for more than 30 years.

The station has received local, regional and national press for its unique blend of programming, including the Hartford Courant, which noted that (programming) is wide-ranging, from rock and roll, to jazz to folk music to reggae, African music and much more.

WPKN-FM logo

Carlson said last year, the New Yorker magazine described the station’s format as “a quirkily dendochronological register of new and old music during the past six decades or so.” The magazine also described the station as “The Greatest Radio Station in the World,” the title of Carlson’s documentary.

Many radio stations started through financing by commercial banks, private venture capital companies, insurance companies, seller financing and other creative ways of raising money. They live and die in the marketplace through advertising agencies and ratings.

Not WPKN-FM, which runs no commercials or corporate sponsorships at all. With people of all ages, races religions tuned in, and more importantly, paying the bills through donations, it is little wonder why WPKN-FM is called “The Greatest Radio Station in the World.”

For more information, visit A trailer for the documentary can be viewed at

Written by Dwight Bachman