90.5 FM a blessing to our community
by Grant Oliphant
President and CEO
The recent announcement by Essential Public Media regarding the future format of 90.5, the former WDUQ, has reignited the community debate on what the station could and should be. I think it is important to take a broader view of this debate or as we say count our blessings.
First, it is important to celebrate that 90.5 has been saved as a public asset that will benefit this community. When Duquesne University announced the pending sale of WDUQ, there was a real danger that the station would be sold to a private buyer and that news and jazz programming would disappear from the dial in favor of secular programming interests.
University officials should be commended for exercising patience and working with a variety of interested parties to obtain an arrangement that has the best interests of our community, the University and the students at heart.
Pittsburgh’s jazz community should also be proud. You have taken an active role in shaping the future of 90.5 and ensuring that Pittsburgh has a diverse art and cultural scene. I can say that the new management has heard you and that is represented in the programs they are seeking to put in place to deliver and expand jazz programming offers that will benefit our community as well as other communities.
We can’t ignore the drastic changes to our national media landscape and the importance of our citizens having access to reliable, trusted, and unbiased information. The new 90.5 will rise to meet this challenge in our community by becoming a source for national, regional and local news. Pittsburgh is one of only two markets in the top 35 that does not have an all news public radio station.
With any change there will always be discontent, bumps in the road, and uncertainty. I urge you to give the new management a chance as they are trying to do the right thing for the future sustainability of 90.5 FM while honoring the heritage of jazz programming that it offered. Providing a non-partisan expanded source of local news and information while developing digital tools for jazz programming, the new 90.5 will grow into an even stronger asset for our community.