Officials at Essential Public Media, a subsidiary of WYEP-FM, announced that the changes are planned for July 1 and call for in-depth NPR News and information while eliminating all but six hours of jazz (Saturday evening)from the main 90.5 FM channel.
On May 2, Essential Public Media (EPM) signed an asset purchase agreement with Duquesne University to acquire the license to broadcast on 90.5 FM and then applied for FCC approval of the license transfer. The FCC review is expected to take at least another 2 months so in the meantime EPM is negotiating with the university for a Local Management Agreement (LMA) which would allow EPM to operate the station but the license would still be held by the university pending FCC approval.
The format includes the continuation of such programs as Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Fresh Air, Marketplace, Car Talk, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, This American Life and the Splendid Table.
Lee Ferraro, general manager of WYEP, (Photo Right) believes the all-news format on 90.5 is sustainable.....
"Increasing service to a full-service news station is going to generate a lot of enthusiasm, is going to generate additional listenership. We see that happening in Columbus, Ohio, Milwaukee, Wisconsin...places smaller than Pittsburgh."
WDUQ currently has the largest audience of the three public radio stations in Pittsburgh with 180,000 listeners.
Marco Cardamone, EPM Board chairman, (Photo Left)says they will provide 174 hours of jazz programmming a week: six hours on 90.5 and 24/7 on an HD companion channel and on-line. He says they want to make HD more accessible to jazz fans by providing vouchers to people to help purchase a small HD radio plus, he adds, most people are already able to listen via the Internet.
Cardamone says this plan to provide jazz on HD and on-line fulfills his statement January 14 when the deal was first announced that they "want to honor and continue the tradition of jazz" in Pittsburgh...
"We're very excited about being able to do that. It's not going to be the same. There's change, there's anxiety about the change. But the service will be there."
Currently, the radio station provides a total of 317 hours of jazz per week: 100 on 90.5 FM, 168 on an internet stream and 49 on HD2.
EPM also plans to record live jazz events for broadcast and produce jazz features for air on 90.5 FM.
Ferraro and Cardamone says they are developing 2 locally-produced programs: a daily, hour-long interview/call-in show exploring critical issues impacting the region; and, a weekly round-up featuring stories and an audio collage of Pittsburgh people and organizations.
EPM also announced that Dennis Hamilton, a former executive with Minnesota Public Radio and currently the Director of Consulting for Public Radio Capital, will serve as the interim President and General Manager. The search continues for a permanent general manager.
Listen to an interview by WDUQ's Kevin Gavin with Lee Ferraro and Marco Cardamone