Pittsburgh's WESA is making its first fundraising appeal to listeners since the station changed format and call letters under new owner Essential Public Media. Its $250,000 fundraising goal is less than half of the amount raised in a record-breaking February 2010 drive for WDUQ, as the station was known during its years as a split-format news and jazz station, the Pittsburgh Tribune reports. But back then, listeners who pledged a total of $525,000 were responding to Duquesne University's decision to sell its public radio station, a transaction that finally closed this summer.
After the switch to its all-news format in July, the audience for 90.5 dipped to a 1.4 share of Pittsburgh radio listeners, according to Arbitron data cited by the Tribune. But EPM execs expect to recover and improve upon WDUQ's performance. They're aiming for a weekly cume of 200,000 listeners, which would top WDUQ's best-ever Arbitron book of 180,000 listeners in 2009. They also plan to raise 60 percent of WESA's $2.5 million operating budget through four fund-drives each year.
WESA and its new step-sister station WYEP, the contemporary music station that's a partner in EPM, are combining their fundraising efforts and running simultaneous fall pledge drives, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Station officials and local observers see WESA's maiden fundraiser as an important indicator of listener support for the new service.
"It's going to be a great benchmark for us to see where we are moving forward," Susan Meyer, director of marketing, told the Post-Gazette.