Duquesne University may sell WDUQ-FM (90.5), the station reported during its morning newscasts today.
One of the founding members of National Public Radio, WDUQ carries most of the network’s marquee programs, including “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered” and “Car Talk,” along with jazz in non-news hours.
The station also operates four repeater stations in Johnstown, Ligonier, Somerset and New Baltimore. In the most recent Arbitron ratings, the station was ranked 14th in the market with a 2.8 share.
WDUQ celebrated its 60th anniversary in December. It signed on in 1949 as a student-operated radio station at 91.5, but now employs a paid staff and is virtually independent from the private, Catholic university.
However, the station remains located in Duquesne’s Des Places Language Center, along with various academic units and the Duquesne Duke newspaper.
The relationship has occasionally caused tension between WDUQ and Duquesne. In 2007, the station was forced by university President Charles Dougherty to return underwriting donations made by Planned Parenthood, whose birth control and abortion referral services were viewed as antithetical to the college’s Catholic heritage.
A sale would have to be approved both by the university’s board of trustees and the Federal Communications Commission. Because the main 90.5 frequency is located in the non-commercial FM band, it could not be sold to anyone who would operate it as a commercial station — but it could be sold to another public broadcaster or a religious organization.
The repeater stations could probably be sold to commercial operators, because they operate in the commercial part of the band.
In March 2005, Duquesne’s fellow Catholic school and rival in the Atlantic 10 basketball conference, Xavier University in Cincinnati, sold its radio station, WVXU-FM, to the operator of the city’s other main NPR outlet for $15 million.
WVXU’s repeater stations in Ohio and Michigan were then sold to Christian and commercial broadcasters.