Foundations, WDUQ managers aim to bid again for station
The Pittsburgh foundations that called a time-out last month on Duquesne University’s plan to sell the frequency of WDUQ-FM, have now released their option to buy the news/jazz station and recast it as a news service.
However, the Heinz Endowments and the Pittsburgh Foundation, two of four community foundations involved in the talks, said June 9 that they remain committed to preserving WDUQ for public service.
The group of four foundations, which bought time for planning by acquiring a 60-day option to buy the station, was “a loose confederation,” said Charlie Humphrey, a nonprofit media exec hired by them to lead planning for a news-focused WDUQ.
With half of the 60 days gone, foundation execs realized that planning would not be far enough along by July for them to commit the millions it will take to buy the station, Humphrey said. “I’m still talking to people, still pulling together information, and—I really mean this—who knows where it might go?”
Public Radio Capital, which produced a business model for operating WDUQ as an independent community licensee early this year, is participating in continued talks, according Erik Langner, PRC’s director of acquisitions. PRC recently ended its relationship with Pittsburgh Public Media, the nonprofit formed by WDUQ management to preserve the station as a hybrid news/jazz service. PPM failed to find funding or have Duquesne accept its bids.
“I’m looking forward to talking with the foundations about how we work together from this point on,” said Joe Kelly, PPM chair. PPM will now act as its own agent, Kelly said. It has recruited a group of 14 community leaders, including WDUQ General Manager Scott Hanley and his top development staff, to serve on its board of advisors.
Duquesne says it won’t act to sell the station until, at soonest, July 2, when the foundation group’s purchase option was to expire. “One of our potential interested parties indicated that they want to use the time frame to complete that proposal, and we thought we would still honor the time frame,” said Bridget Fare, university spokeswoman. Even then, the university may continue to weigh its options.
“We may not make any decisions before or after July 2,” Fare said. “There’s not a financial urgency to the decision — we just need to make sure it’s the right one.”
Web page posted Jne 23, 2010
Copyright 2010 by Current LLC