First pledge drive for Pittsburgh’s WESA seen as key indicator of listener support

Pittsburgh’s WESA is making its first fundraising appeal to listeners since the station changed format and call letters under new owner Essential Public Media. Its $250,000 fundraising goal is less than half of the amount raised in a record-breaking February 2010 drive for WDUQ, as the station was known during its years as a split-format news and jazz station, the Pittsburgh Tribune reports. But back then, listeners who pledged a total of $525,000 were responding to Duquesne University’s decision to sell its public radio station, a transaction that finally closed this summer.

After the switch to its all-news format in July, the audience for 90.5 dipped to a 1.4 share of Pittsburgh radio listeners, according to Arbitron data cited by the Tribune. But EPM execs expect to recover and improve upon WDUQ’s performance. They’re aiming for a weekly cume of 200,000 listeners, which would top WDUQ’s best-ever Arbitron book of 180,000 listeners in 2009. They also plan to raise 60 percent of WESA’s $2.5 million operating budget through four fund-drives each year.

WESA and its new step-sister station WYEP, the contemporary music station that’s a partner in EPM, are combining their fundraising efforts and running simultaneous fall pledge drives, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Station officials and local observers see WESA’s maiden fundraiser as an important indicator of listener support for the new service.

“It’s going to be a great benchmark for us to see where we are moving forward,” Susan Meyer, director of marketing, told the Post-Gazette.

  • John T. Mason

    My wife and I have been making our contributions to 90.5 for many years. The combination of NPR and jazz was truly a gift. How a compromise could not have been
    worked out where evening and weekend jazz would still exist is hard to understand. We have stopped contributing to WESA and now give that money to the www. pghjazz
    channel. com.

  • Jason Bell

    My wife and I were members of WESA until late last year. We could
    longer support a station that was running ads for fracking and oil
    companies. I live in Butler County and it made my stomach turn to hear
    ads for thinkaboutit.org, Chevron, and Range Resources as I drove past
    pipeline projects cutting through forests in Butler County or to a local
    church to donate to families whose water was contaminated after
    fracking started in their community. I decided to give the money to them instead.

    https://sites.google.com/site/waterforwoodlands/

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