New radio station retains some WDUQ staffers and hosts; Mowod to retire
June 24, 2011 4:00 AM
Tony Mowod to retire.
By Adrian McCoy Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Longtime WDUQ-FM evening jazz host Tony Mowod will retire from radio next week when the station's current jazz and NPR format ends June 30.
Mr. Mowod, who has been at WDUQ for more than 23 years, was offered a job as a jazz host by the station's new management, but he turned it down.
"I felt it was best for me not to take the offer," he said.
Mr. Mowod will remain at Duquesne University as an adjunct professor in the music department and will continue to be an advocate for jazz and a part of the local jazz community through his work with The Pittsburgh Jazz Society, which he founded 25 years ago. "That's my life and love," he said.
Also as part of the format change, seven WDUQ-FM staff members have new jobs with Essential Public Media, and four more WDUQ air personalities will continue as volunteers with the new station.
Essential Public Media, the WYEP-FM-owned nonprofit that is buying WDUQ from Duquesne University, announced the hires Thursday.
They include WDUQ jazz hosts Bob Studebaker and Helen Wigger, who'll continue as hosts on the station's HD JazzWorks programming. Ms. Wigger will be operations director for the station, and Mr. Studebaker will work as a producer.
On the news side, assistant news director Mark Nootbaar will be senior assignment editor. Current WDUQ news director Kevin Gavin will be director of interns and producer for the new station.
Other WDUQ staffers who will remain with the new station include Larkin Page-Jacobs, who'll host the local news segments during NPR's "All Things Considered" and work as a general assignment reporter; Erika Beras, behavioral health care reporter; and Noah Brode, who'll be the local host during NPR's "Weekend Edition Saturday/Sunday" and a general assignment reporter.
"The folks that we've hired have good experience, and they fill the needs we have for staffing," said Dennis Hamilton, interim president and general manager for the new 90.5. Mr. Hamilton is director of consulting for Public Radio Capital. "They're local. They know the market. They know how radio works and they're excited to be part of what we're trying to do.
"Our goal is to give the region a strong and useful radio service by bringing in some of the best from the national productions and marrying that with local productions."
Two locally produced weekly WDUQ programs will remain on the air, along with their hosts: Mike Plaskett and Dale Abraham with "Rhythm Sweet & Hot" and Harish Saluja and Dr. Vijay Bahl with "Music From India." These hosts will continue to work as volunteers for the station, as they did at WDUQ. Mr. Plaskett is retiring from his paid post with WDUQ's membership department.
EPM also hired three people from outside WDUQ.
Russ Lloyd will be director of technology for EPM. He's currently the broadcast engineer/IT specialist/facility manager for Clear Channel Broadcasting in Nashville.
Sarah Wemple was named director of finance and human resources. She was the controller for Autodesk in Blawnox.
Tammy Terwelp was hired as director of content and programming earlier this month. She comes from WBEZ-FM/Chicago Public Media, where she was director of distribution and logistics.
Fred Serino, WDUQ director of development and interim general manager, and WDUQ business manager Vicky Rumpf will remain with the station through the transition.
The new station will continue to air much of WDUQ's current NPR lineup, along with producing its own news programming on local and regional issues. WDUQ's jazz programing will move to a six-hour shift on Saturday nights and a full-time jazz HD channel.
EPM has taken heat online and in the letters to the editor pages for reducing jazz -- a mainstay of WDUQ's programming. Mr. Hamilton defended that decision. The HD channel will give listeners even more hours of jazz every week, he said. "We intend to make that service as good as possible and to continue to grow.
"Our job in public media is to be good stewards of these rare public radio channels. We think the best use of this channel is to be an all-news station because it will have the highest value to the most amount of listeners. Pittsburgh's one of the few remaining big markets that doesn't have a full-time news station."
The new management decided to keep "Rhythm Sweet & Hot" and "Music From India" because of their long tradition in the market and loyal followings, Mr. Hamilton said. "It isn't broken, so why try to fix it?" "Music From India" will air Sundays from 8 to 10 p.m. A time hasn't been set for "Rhythm Sweet & Hot," which now airs Saturday night.
The programming schedule will be announced next week. The new 90.5 launches July 1.
The station will have new call letters, but it can't apply for them until the sale is cleared with the FCC. During the transition, it will continue to be known as WDUQ.
WDUQ will remain in its Duquesne University studios for now and will move to WYEP's Community Broadcast Center in South Side later this summer after construction on new studios is finished.
Correction/Clarification: (Published June 25, 2011) Essential Public Media, the prospective new owner of WDUQ-FM, has hired seven WDUQ staff members for the new station and four more WDUQ air personalities will continue as volunteers. A headline in Friday's editions misidentified the prospective new owner.