WQED to fold 'Black Horizons' into 'OnQ' replacements

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WQED-13 is replacing its newsmagazine "OnQ" with a roster of new nightly series geared to specific topics. The "OnQ" name will be retired, and each evening will have a half-hour program with a different theme.

It's also canceling "Black Horizons," the long-running weekly public affairs program devoted to African-American issues. That program will be folded into one of the new nightly series. The new programming will launch Nov. 1.

The new lineup:

Mondays: "Experience" -- A program modeled after PBS's American Experience" but with a regional focus. Planned topics include an exploration of autism and a look at Marcellus Shale drilling. Some segments will focus on the neighborhoods of Greenfield and Brookline.

Tuesdays: "Horizons" -- Will explore issues of interest to the diverse ethnic and cultural groups living in the region. It will continue to cover African-American issues of interest, replacing "Black Horizons."

Wednesdays: "It's Pittsburgh and a Lot of Other Stuff" -- WQED producer/director Rick Sebak will explore interesting and unique things about the region in his signature way.

Thursdays: "Pittsburgh 360" -- Will focus on health, the environment, education, the arts, history, science and technology.

Fridays: "4802" -- The number stands for the station's Fifth Avenue address and will replace the former "OffQ" media roundtable. It will feature a mix of journalists and newsmakers from the area talking about the important issues of the day.

Saturdays: "Filmmakers' Corner" -- An hour-long showcase of independent films by local and regional filmmakers.

The half-hour weeknight shows will air at 7:30 p.m. "Filmmakers' Corner" airs Saturday at 10 p.m.

"OnQ" and "Black Horizons" host Chris Moore, along with "OnQ" hosts Michael Bartley and Tonia Caruso, will continue to host some of the new programs: Mr. Moore as host of the new "Horizons," and Mr. Bartley and Ms. Caruso for "Pittsburgh 360." The trio will moderate the Friday night "4802" roundtables.

"OnQ" was launched a decade ago as a newsmagazine devoted to in-depth reporting on regional stories.

"OnQ had a great run," said WQED Multimedia vice president of production Darryl Ford Williams. "It morphed many times as its own program. It's been many things over its course.

"I think any good show needs to be injected with a new mission. This was our way of looking at the things we did well in 'OnQ,' and the things that were aspirational, that didn't mix with that format. A lot of what we wanted to be we have built into this new lineup."

The end of "Black Horizons" is the end of an era, both for the station and locally and nationally. The show, which went on the air in 1968, was a groundbreaking public affairs program devoted to African-American issues. It was among the first, if not the first, of its kind and has aired for more than four decades.

Ms. Ford Williams said the new "Horizons" is designed to encompass a wider group of minority groups and cultures.

"We looked at what our community was when 'Black Horizons' started and what it is now. We no longer define ourselves as simply black and white. We are so much more than that.

"This is an attempt to open the door to exploring many cultures and what we share in terms of our ethnic and cultural traditions."

She called "Black Horizons" a "valuable asset" and said the station is looking at ways to archive past episodes online for public access on demand.

Ms. Ford Williams said the station also wanted to give Mr. Sebak a forum to realize more of his ideas in projects that will be smaller in scope than the national and local documentaries he produces for WQED.

"There are so many things we can't do. This is an opportunity, in a shorter form, to tell the greater stories about why it's so special to live in this region."

One thing audiences have asked for is more long-form storytelling and segments, she said, adding that the new structure will enable WQED to do that on a nightly basis.

"We never had the structure or resources to do half-hour documentaries with the frequency we do now."

The station has a good track record with the shorter regional documentaries it has produced, which include "Stone Soldiers: Saving the Gettysburg Monuments," "Losing Lambert: A Journey Through Survival and Hope" and "The Darr Mine Disaster."

Adrian McCoy: amccoy@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1865.


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