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Former Pittsburgh TV owner to purchase local AM radio station to serve black listeners

By Adrian McCoy
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
(October 6, 2009) Pittsburgh broadcaster Eddie Edwards Sr. is buying WPYT-AM (660) and plans to launch a news and talk format aimed primarily at the African-American community.

Mr. Edwards announced at a news conference yesterday that he has filed the paperwork with the FCC to purchase the station.

WPYT is licensed to Wilkinsburg, PA. The station, which currently carries syndicated business talk and outdoors programming, is now owned by Langer Broadcasting, based in Framingham, Mass. The 1400-watt station is licensed to operate from sunrise to sundown.

The $500,000 deal includes the station license. Mr. Edwards will need to build a new studio and said he's looking at locations in Monroeville and Forest Hills.

FCC approval of the sale will take about 90 days. Mr. Edwards said he hopes to launch the new station by early January.

Mr. Edwards noted that the local African-American community has been disenfranchised by the sale of WAMO-FM and WAMO-AM, which were the Pittsburgh market's sole source of music, news and information aimed primarily at that audience. Those stations, along with sister station WPGR-AM, a gospel format, have been off the air since early September. The new owner -- St. Joseph Mission -- plans to introduce Catholic/religious talk programming on those stations.

"Pittsburgh's oldest and longest running black-formatted station pulled its plug, leaving a number of seasoned employees out of work. Since then, we have been left with absolutely nothing to tune in to for critical news and information affecting the lives of African Americans in this community," Mr. Edwards said. With a mayoral election coming up, he called that situation "shameful."

Edwards, the former owner of television station WPTT, said he was "happily retired" when he heard about WAMO's demise.

"I knew another company would be stepping in its place to fill the void quickly. But I was wrong.

"In a day and age when we have hate radio dominating our airwaves, even here in the city of Pittsburgh, I had no choice but to step forward, as many in this community have asked me to do, in an effort to return our voice back to the radio dial," he said.

Mr. Edwards called the WPYT acquisition the first step in that process. He also hopes to buy an FM station that would have a classic R&B music format targeted at older listeners.

He said another reason he decided to get back into broadcasting is to give young minority broadcasters a chance to find jobs.

"Our children are being denied job opportunities in this market," he said. "But radio, unlike television, has done a horrible job in hiring young African Americans and minorities in the broadcasting business."

Mr. Edwards said he plans to initially hire around 15 full- and part-time people, primarily in news, production and sales.

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