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WQED ready to do 'more things'

Friday, July 26, 2002

By Adrian McCoy

With WQEX a step closer to being sold, WQED can forge ahead with the other projects in its future. That was the sentiment expressed at yesterday's WQED board of directors meeting. The FCC decision to dereserve WQEX 16 as a noncommercial educational station paves the way for its eventual sale to ShootingStar Inc., which would operate it as a commercial station.

Calling the FCC decision "the right one for this organization and this community," WQED president George Miles said it finally enables WQED to focus its energies in other areas, making it "an organization that can do a lot more things."

In the board's financial report, which covered the fiscal year to date up to May 31, revenues and gains were higher than the comparable period in 2001, but expenses were higher, too, making the net less than 2001. Sales, underwriting and advertising decreased compared to last year. While foundation and institutional support was higher this year, the bulk of it was restricted funding.

Blaming the soft economy for the results of the June pledge drive, WQED reported that WQED 13 raised $145,000 of its $235,000 goal, while radio station WQED-FM raised $122,000 of its $155,000 goal.

Station executive Robert Petrilli outlined the details of a partnership with Time-Life Video. Time-Life will market videotapes of the "Doo Wop 50" and "Doo Wop 51" specials with a series of TV spots, with WQED and PBS getting a portion of the sales proceeds. Broadcast rights to these two programs have expired, and the deal will extend their life. The videos will be packaged as "Doo Wop Gold."

Plans for the ambitious French and Indian War documentary "The War That Made America" are still on track, although a set deadline of June for securing funding commitments has passed. Miles said they're exploring funding for the project at the national level and that they may aim for a later air date in 2005.

Karen Farmer White, vice president of educational services, did a presentation on the WQED Learning Center, a community outreach effort designed to tie in with the station's programming. She outlined four areas of concentration for the project: literacy, workforce development, arts and culture, and community education. Examples of some projects include producing a pilot for a cooking show designed to teach math and science principles to middle school students.

A new installment in WQED's American Soundtrack Concert Series -- "Red, White and Rock" -- premieres here Aug. 11.

WQED is planning a "September Heroes Celebration" to mark the one-year anniversary of Sept. 11, on WQED, on "On Q" and in Pittsburgh magazine.

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