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TV owner to purchase local AM radio station to serve black listeners By
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
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.