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Group working to bring jazz radio back to Pittsburgh

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By Bob Karlovits
Monday, Nov. 12, 2012, 1:56 p.m.

Pittsburgh Public Media plans to file for FCC approval this week for a plan to return jazz radio to the air in the Pittsburgh area.

The group has signed an agreement with Bethany College in West Virginia to buy the 88.1 FM signal of its WVBC. It wants to use the 1,100 watts to broadcast jazz “just like WDUQ used to,” says Chuck Leavens, CEO of Pittsburgh Public Media.

He says the FCC generally takes three to four months to approve such requests and, in that time, he hopes to raise $150,000 to “pay for the station outright.” Leavens says his group has $15,000 already from donors.

Obviously, broadcasting could not begin until then.

The signal would only reach into the South Hills of Pittsburgh, so Leavens says the next step would be to get equipment to extend the range from there.

Pittsburgh Public Media was formed in 2010 when Duquesne University began talks that led to the sale of WDUQ-FM (90.5) to Essential Public Media, which now operates the signal as WESA-FM.

PubMusic, a nonprofit related to Pittsburgh Public Media, operates a streaming jazz service,, created to replace WDUQ's jazz-dominated service.

Leavens says it is important to return to the broadcast market, though, because “many listeners just have not gotten involved with getting their music from a computer.”

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-320-7852.

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