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Tube City won't seek FM license

| Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A longtime advocate of community low-power FM radio will not take part in a Federal Communications Commission auction of FM licenses.

Tube City Community Media's Jason Togyer emailed on Thursday that his organization instead is partnering with McKeesport's WEDO-810, a commercial AM station.

“We're in a partnership with tubecityonline.com to provide public service announcements and community events from the surrounding area,” WEDO general manager Jeremy Bosse confirmed.

“The partnership follows this summer's decision by WEDO to carry portions of Tube City's coverage of the 2013 International Village festival,” Togyer wrote on tubecityonline.com.

A window of opportunity for non-commercial low-power FM applicants opened Thursday after a brief delay because of the partial shutdown of the federal government. It was FCC's first such window since 2000-01.

Togyer sought to take advantage of the 2000-01 window as part of now-defunct Lightning Community Broadcasting. The FCC rejected Lightning's application as well as one from Penn State University for FM stations in White Oak.

Togyer said his organization was involved last month in a survey of community interest, conceding then there might not be the interest that existed 13 years ago.

“We had only one person contact us about LPFM, and he was not in the McKeesport area,” Togyer emailed. “I asked the Prometheus Radio Project if they knew of anyone in the McKeesport area who was also applying, and who might be interested in a partnership, and they did not.”

Prometheus Radio Project is a self-styled nonprofit association “dedicated to the democratization of the airwaves through the proliferation of non-commercial, community based, micropower stations.”

Togyer pointed to Renda Broadcasting's donation of McKeesport's WMNY-1360 to Bishop Loran E. Mann's Pentecostal Temple Development Corp. as a factor.

It “made our board question whether it was a good idea to start a new radio station when existing radio stations seem to be having a hard time,” Togyer said.

As for WEDO, Togyer hoped to eventually add “McKeesport history minutes” in partnership with the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center. Such vignettes would be similar to features done daily by the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh for KQV-1410.

“This has the benefit of helping the community while helping an existing independent radio station,” Togyer said. “No money is changing hands and we are not replacing any of their sponsored content.”

Bosse said his station has taken other steps to expand its public affairs and public service. WEDO is carrying Salem Radio Network news at 1:55 p.m. and is running weather reports during Candy & Mike Long's 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. show and the 3-4 p.m. Radio Italia.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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