For nearly two years, Duquesne University has been trying to sell its radio station. The deal to purchase WDUQ was finally closed on Thursday when Essential Public Media signed the papers to purchase the FCC licenses from Duquesne University for $6 million. Essential Public Media (EPM) is a wholly owned subsidiary of radio station WYEP with its own governing board.
$1 million of the deal will be given to the university in the form of non-commercial advertising known as underwriting, and another half million will take the form of an intense internship program for Duquesne University students.
Most of the funding for the purchase was raised from local foundations, but part of the deal was financed through a loan, said EPM Board Chairman Marco Cardamone.
Cardamone said going forward, the funding of the operation of the station will be similar to what you see at other public broadcast outlets. "We will have listener support, we will have underwriting support as part of our business model, there may be additional grants along the way."
"It's about listeners, its about membership… from a qualitative point of view you are really measuring what you hear from your neighbors in terms of the impact the station is having on the lives of the people in the community that we serve," said Cardamone.
The station will have its own management team, but it will share some support services with WYEP and will be moving into the WYEP building on the South Side soon. The station is currently located on the Duquesne University campus.
As part of the deal, Essential Public Media had to file with the FCC to change call letters. The station will now be known as WESA.
Along with the 90.5 FM frequency, the station operates three HD channels. One of those channels airs the all-news format heard on 90.5 FM. The other two HD streams carry a 24-hours a day jazz format and a 24-hours a day feed from BBC World Service.