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WQED unveils new age of enlightenment

Friday, July 07, 2000

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

At the annual meeting of WQED Pittsburgh's board of directors last night, WQED President George Miles unveiled a new strategic plan with a focus on "communication, commitment and community." The only "C" missing was a "Plan C" to sell sister station WQEX.

Glenn Walsh, a viewer from Mt. Lebanon and a regular attendee at WQED annual meetings, asked about the future of WQEX.

"We really are considering a whole lot of things and different options," said W. Thomas McGough Jr., WQED's board chairman. But he said there was nothing to announce.

Two previous efforts to sell WQEX fell through, the most recent one in January.

Instead, the focus last night was on the station's future regardless of the disposition of WQEX. Miles presented WQED's vision statement to become "a leading regional public multimedia enterprise, creating and distributing educational, cultural, informational content and services that enlighten, entertain and engage the community."

Goals range from improved customer service to improving the station's Oakland facility.

After the meeting, Miles said a strategic plan is important for the organization, not only to give employees an understanding of goals for the station's future but to attract corporate funding.

B.J. Leber, vice president of communications and community relations, announced the launch of the WQED Learning Center, which will promote literacy and lifelong learning, often with the Internet as a major component. WQED plans to join with other area organizations on some projects, including a teacher professional development program to improve math and science literacy.

"At our heart, we are about education," she said.

Much of the meeting included internal housekeeping, including the adoption of a new fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1. The board approved a three-month interim budget to carry the organization until that time.

Roy Haley, chairman and chief executive officer of Wesco International, and Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Raymond Novak were appointed as new board members. Departing board members Lawrence Kaplan, also a Common Pleas judge, and Stanley Herman were thanked for their service.

The board approved eight new members of the Community Advisory Board: Kaplan, Don Block, Patricia Carnevali, Hilda Pang Fu, Brenda Gregg, Paul O'Palka Jr., Ron Peters and Moira Singer.

WQED has reduced its debt to Public Broadcasting Service to $1.2 million, which covers programming expenses for 1999. The station paid off its 2000 programming fees last month. Excepting a one-time $200,000 state gift in 1999, contributions in fiscal year 2000 are ahead of 1999 by about $150,000.

Miles cited the launch of the station's magazine program "On Q" as the realization of a goal more than five years ago when he outlined the station's last strategic plan. "On Q" is in repeats for the summer (except a live Friday edition) and executive producer Deborah Acklin said a few subtle changes to the format will be made when it returns with live shows five nights a week starting Sept. 11.

"We'll be tightening the length of segments," she said, with the possibility of adding a second question-and-answer interview later in the show.

Reporter Michael Bartley may travel to the Republican and Democratic national conventions this summer, with reports airing the Friday following each trip. And some "On Q" reports about area high-tech companies may be featured on a robot with a video display screen that the Pittsburgh high-tech community is preparing to take to the floor of both national conventions.

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