Jazz radio station moves forward

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The return of a full-time jazz format to the local airwaves is moving closer to reality.

Pittsburgh Public Media is the new owner of the WVBC-FM (88.1) signal formerly owned by Bethany College in West Virginia.

Pittsburgh Public Media is the nonprofit that operates the online Pittsburgh Jazz Channel (www.pghjazzchannel.org), a jazz stream featuring former WDUQ-FM staff members, including Tony Mowod and Chuck Leavens as hosts, along with sports broadcaster and radio personality Bill Hillgrove.

The Federal Communications Commission approved the sale in March, and Pittsburgh Public Media closed on the sale May 31. The new call letters will be WYZR-FM, and the studios will be in McMurray.

Initially, programming will be repurposed for radio from the online Pittsburgh Jazz Channel. When work on the new studio is finished, Mr. Mowod will resume his live jazz show on the new station.

Mr. Leavens, president of Pittsburgh Public Media's board of directors and chief executive officer of PubMusic, estimates that the station could be on the air within a month. Some equipment orders may take a while, and he's working on borrowing what he needs to get on the air as soon as possible.

At first, the new station will be heard in areas south and west of the city, which is what the Bethany signal covers. Eventually, the signal will be expanded to areas north and east for full coverage of the Pittsburgh area.

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