WESA grew out of an unexpected opportunity.
In 2010, Duquesne University announced that it planned to sell WDUQ, a university-licensed public radio station it had owned and operated for over 60 years.
Upon hearing this news, the management team and a stunned board of directors at WYEP (our sister public radio station), immediately went to work to “save” this vital community asset. Our goal was to preserve the 90.5 FM broadcast signal within the Pittsburgh public media domain.
It may have been audacious to submit, much less to win, the bid to acquire the station and related broadcast assets from Duquesne University. But in March 2011, that’s exactly what happened.
The long journey to that ultimate outcome was unpredictable, uncertain, and in the end, unprecedented.
“The long journey to that ultimate outcome was unpredictable, uncertain, and in the end, unprecedented.”
Our story was propelled by a collective vision to create a new kind of public media service in Pittsburgh.
The WYEP team, together with our foundation partners and community stakeholders, surveyed the Pittsburgh media landscape and concluded that we had a rare opportunity to introduce a 24-hour NPR news and information service to the people of Pittsburgh. Our research revealed that Pittsburgh was one of only two cities in the top 50 U.S. markets that did not yet have a 24-hour NPR news and information service.
We intended to change that.
“By June 30, 2015, WESA had become recognized as a valued public media voice for Pittsburgh.”
WESA officially launched its news service on July 1, 2011.
We often describe the experience as throwing parts of an airplane off a cliff, then jumping off the cliff, assembling the parts into a plane, and getting it airborne before hitting the ground.
A little dramatic, yes. But that’s how it felt for the WESA team.
By June 30, 2015, just four years later, WESA had become recognized as a valued public media voice for Pittsburgh.
During that first four years, WESA produced over 6,600 local journalism stories, 308 feature stories, 858 hours of local talk and conversation on our signature talk show Essential Pittsburgh, and we convened over six community listening events and public forums.
Today WESA is Southwestern Pennsylvania’s only independent, community-owned public media news and information station. We give voice to provocative ideas and stories that foster a vibrant, informed, diverse and caring community.
90.5 WESA broadcasts a wide variety of news, public affairs and cultural programming from National Public Radio (NPR), Public Radio International (PRI), the BBC and other renowned news and information producers.
Each week, 90.5 WESA reaches more than 110,000 listeners.
WESA (and its sister station WYEP) are part of the Pittsburgh Community Broadcast Corporation, an independent community-owned public media company.