Jazz station set to launch: 88.1 WYZR-FM

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Jazz is returning to the local airwaves -- at least in areas south of the city. On Sunday, WYZR-FM (88.1) is scheduled to go on the air.

The new station is being launched by Pittsburgh Public Media, a group of former WDUQ-FM staff members and other jazz supporters. Pittsburgh Public Media bought the signal from Bethany College in West Virginia in May.

Initially, programming will come from the online Pittsburgh Jazz Channel (www.pghjazzchannel.org), which features former WDUQ-FM staff members Tony Mowod, Chuck Leavens, Scott Hanley and John Lasanich as hosts, along with sports broadcaster and radio personality Bill Hillgrove and jazz broadcaster Bobby Jackson.

Because the transmitter is on the West Virginia border at the former Bethany site, the new station won't cover the entire Pittsburgh metro area at first. The coverage area is south of the city -- South Park, Mt. Lebanon, Peters and Washington County, along with Green Tree and areas west toward the airport. It also extends to Wheeling, W.Va., and Youngstown, Ohio, giving the new station a regional presence.

The jazz community has been without a radio station since the former WDUQ was sold in 2011. While people are excited at the prospect of jazz returning to the airwaves, Mr. Leavens, president of Pittsburgh Public Media's board of directors, urges them to be patient for a while.

"We've got to manage our expectations. If we're expecting a big local Pittsburgh signal, this isn't it. This is a start. We have to get on the air and make improvements. Everything is a step by step process."

The next step will be to improve the signal and increase coverage, Mr. Leavens said. They're replacing the old transmitter with a new one that will improve the signal quality.

They're working on new studios, which are at Donaldson's Crossroads in McMurray. After studio construction is finished, the station will feature live jazz programing, including Mr. Mowod's evening show. They hope to add a live local morning show, in-studio performances and live jazz concerts in the future, Mr. Leavens said, along with specialty programming on weekends.

The launch of a fledgling public radio station also involves solid listener support. "This has been a monumental effort," Mr. Leavens said. "We really need individual donations." Listeners can donate at Pittsburgh Public Media's website, www.pittsburghpublicmedia.org.


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


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