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Pittsburgh NPR news station changing names

| Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, 11:46 a.m.

After just one year, Essential Public Radio will be no more.

The station's not going away. Just the name.

The region's only all-news-and-information public radio station plans to scrap its original name, reintroducing itself Friday as 90.5 WESA, “Pittsburgh's NPR News Station.” The station also will make several program changes designed to satisfy current listeners and draw new ones, says marketing director Suzanne Meyer.

“We just decided to go back to basics, keep it simple,” Meyer says of the name change.

Along with the new name, WESA also will drop several shows from its weekday morning lineup: “The Takeaway,” “On Point” and “Tell Me More.”

In their place, an extra hour of “Morning Edition” will fill the 9 a.m. slot and will feature more local news reports, Meyer says. Two hours of “The Diane Rehm Show” will follow, leading to locally produced “Essential Pittsburgh” at noon.

“We believe it will be a much-better lead-in into the afternoon,” Meyer says of Rehm, an NPR stalwart.

Friday nights will feature three hours of “pure entertainment, pure fun,” Meyer says. The 9 to 11 p.m. slots will be filled by former podcasts, “The Dinner Party,” “Live Wire!” and “WTF.” They replace “Q,” “a rebroadcast of “Fresh Air” and an hour of “BBC World Service.”

In addition, “Radiolab” will air at 1 p.m. Saturdays and sports show “Only a Game” will air at 8 a.m. Sundays, replacing “Sound Opinions” and “Living on Earth,” respectively.

All replaced programming still will be available online at the respective shows' websites, Meyer says.

Programming cost will be about the same after the changes, she says.

“It's just a better product,” Meyer says.

Essential Public Media, a WYEP subsidiary, purchased 90.5 FM last year from Duquesne University and dropped its largely jazz format and WDUQ call letters. Essential Public Radio, WESA 90.5 FM, launched July 1, 2011. It is located in WYEP's Community Broadcast Center on the South Side.

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jcato@tribweb.com or 412-320-7936.

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