Station leaders of the new Essential Public Media believe they can top the former WDUQ's best audience numbers — in fact, by quite a bit, they told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "We think the potential is there, if not to double the listenership, then to go over 200,000 to 225,000 listeners per week," Lee Ferraro, general manager of new owner WYEP, said on Wednesday (July 27) during a meeting with newspaper reporters and editors. "It's not going to happen overnight. We hope to be there by fall." WDUQ averaged about 145,000 listeners per week over the past months; its record was 180,000 listeners per week in 2009.
WYEP partnered with Public Radio Capital on the sale earlier this year (Current, Jan. 24) that generated controversy among the former jazz station's fan base. But much of the criticism over the format change to news has died down, said Marco Cardamone, board chairman of Essential Public Media and WYEP. "We've really turned the corner on a lot of public perception," Cardamone told the paper. "That feels good, given where we were three to four months ago."