The Lepanto Institute, a Catholic organization, is calling on the Archdiocese of Newark and Seton Hall’s Board of Trustees to take the University’s radio station, WSOU, off the air after accusing the station of broadcasting “satanic” music.
The student-run station, which has been on the air since 1948, is best known for delivering hard rock music to the New York metropolitan area. It has made a name nationally for being one of the first stations to broadcast heavy rock bands that would later go on to be mainstream sensations, including Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, My Chemical Romance and others, according to the station’s website.
The station also often features “religious, public affairs and ethnic programming,” as well as Seton Hall athletic games.
Michael Hichborn, president of the Lepanto Institute, posted on the organization’s website that WSOU’s programming is “blasphemous,” “openly satanic” and promotes “sacrilege” and the “slaughter of Christians.”
Hichborn also posted a YouTube video, saying the songs played on the station are, “extremely violent and thoroughly demonic and any claim to the contrary is an absolute lie.”
More than 270 people have signed a petition created by Hichborn calling for the station to be shut down.
“The assertion that WSOU plays Satanic music is false,” Mark Maben, WSOU’s general manager said in a statement. “Unlike most other radio stations, WSOU-FM goes a step further beyond FCC rules to also remove lyrics that go against University policies and the Catholic principles that guide station programming.”
The Lepanto Institute describes itself on its website as an “organization dedicated to the defense of the Catholic Church against assaults from without as well as from within.”
Hichborn has called for Cardinal Joseph Tobin, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark, chair of the Board of Trustees and president of the Board of Regents to shut down the station, which he said he believes does not support the University’s Catholic mission.
Seton Hall is a diocesan university, which means that it, in part, falls under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Newark.
“In order to preserve the integrity of faith among both broadcasters and listeners at a Catholic university, it is the obligation of those in academic and ecclesial authority to ensure that things broadcast by the station do nothing to undermine the faith of the Catholic Church,” Hichborn said in an interview with The Setonian. “The ultimate authority of what is broadcast by this station rests on Cardinal Tobin.”
In his article, Hichborn points out that WSOU and its FCC license are owned by Seton Hall, making it part of the Archdiocese of Newark’s jurisdiction.
“The Archdiocese of Newark and Cardinal Tobin are directly responsible for the spread of Satanism, violence, and necrophilia” the Lepanto Institute article says.
Michael Daly, the WSOU station manager, addressed these accusations in a statement to The Setonian.
“The accusation that WSOU plays satanic music is simply ridiculous and wrong,” Daly said, “The student managers and I were all appalled by the falsehoods, inaccuracies and misleading information in the video.
“This is a made-up controversy. As station manager, one of my most important tasks is making sure all of us abide by the rules and honor the Catholic mission of Seton Hall. I can assure the Seton Hall community WSOU is not playing demonic or inappropriate music.”
Maben said the station already undergoes a review process which ensures the content it airs is inline with the University’s Catholic mission.
“A WSOU-FM Music Selection Guidelines Task Force reviews and evaluates Music Selection Guidelines for WSOU-FM on a regular basis,” Maben said in his statement. “The Task Force is guided by the University's Catholic mission, and focuses on safeguarding the music vetting process to ensure that the station's policies are robust and comprehensive and to make any appropriate updates, amendments or additions that could better serve the Catholic mission of Seton Hall University and the educational experience of our students.”
MetalSucks, a website dedicated to metal news and gossip picked up on the story, described WSOU as “a lifeline for New York City-area metalheads… an integral part of every metal band’s marketing/radio strategy for their new albums, and since become available for anyone anywhere in the world to hear online.”
The station has seen controversy in the past as well.
In 1988 there was a school-imposed ban on heavy metal music after a 16-year-old who listened to WSOU committed suicide.
The victim 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 told the Associated Press.
“The Church is abundantly clear: evil has no rights,” Hichborn said. “Those things which glorify violence, the occult, satanic ritualism, sadism and other similar matters—all of which are broadcast by WSOU—are evil by their very nature, and no Catholic or Catholic institution has a right to promote or spread them. The purpose of the Catholic Church is to draw souls to Christ.”
Ava Holtzer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editors note: Due to a reporting error, information was mistakenly included in this story from a private message. The Setonian has since removed the information. We apologize for the error.