Duquesne University is talking with up to three potential buyers interested in the WDUQ-FM license and a sale could occur within a month, President Charles Dougherty said Thursday.
However, Dr. Dougherty said the school is not committed to making a sale and one will not occur unless Duquesne receives an offer it considers reasonable.
"We understand that there is a great deal of community interest here, that it is an emotional issue for a lot of people," Dr. Dougherty told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's editorial board.
"We're in conversation with two, perhaps three, potential buyers, and we think that there may be a sale within the next month," he added.
University officials, Dr. Dougherty said, believe the station is an asset worth more than $10 million.
"If we don't get an offer we think is reasonable given the market, then there won't be a sale. So we're testing the market and we'll see how it goes."
Of the potential buyers, Dr. Dougherty would only identify Pittsburgh Public Media, a new nonprofit formed by the station's current general manager, Scott Hanley, whose goal is to create an independent station that maintains the NPR news and jazz programming.
Dr. Dougherty said the school is not requiring, as part of any sale, that the buyer maintain the station's NPR affiliation or its news and jazz programs. Once a license is sold, it's up to the new owner to choose the format.
However, Dr. Dougherty added, Duquesne is partnering with the Pittsburgh Foundation, "to bring in a third party who specializes in the transfer of stations maintaining the NPR format. Se we are exploring every opportunity to do that."
Founded in 1949, WDUQ-FM was the first public station in Western Pennsylvania. When National Public Radio launched in 1970, WDUQ was one of the charter stations to carry its programming, such as "Morning Edition, "All Things Considered," "Fresh Air," and "Car Talk."
Initially, WDUQ's news department was run by journalism and broadcasting students but evolved into a full-fledged professional local news operation and a link in the NPR news network.
WDUQ-FM ranked 13th in the Pittsburgh market in the February Arbitron ratings, making it the most-listened-to public radio station in the market.
Duquesne University spends $500,000 a year to operate the station, Dr. Dougherty said. If the station sold for $10 million, that could be the equivalent of multiple endowed chairs, each of which cost $1.5 million to establish. Endowing new academic chairs would aid Duquesne in furthering its academic goals.
Neither the University of Pittsburgh nor Carnegie Mellon University are among the potential buyers, Dr. Dougherty said.