Over the last two weeks, we have been hearing about the suspension of broadcasting for KQV (1410). The station signs off as the new year begins on December 31. Many people have stated how sad the situation is, but what exactly are these people mourning?

From all the posts that I have read on Facebook and other social media sites, people are actually mourning a format that we lost 42 years ago! The station has sported an all-news format since 1975 after determining that the top 40 format was no longer viable for its AM signal. The station sported such a format from the early 1960s, and yet it was such a short period in the station’s history. Yet, it seems that those who were of that format’s target audience are mourning its loss all over again.

Please allow me to bring you back to earth. While the station has maintained the same tower site and power output since 1947, it was a different station prior to the top 40 days as it was after the top 40 days. But it seems that people remember it best as a top 40 station. Jeff Roteman has done an outstanding job of documenting that period of the station’s history as well as other portions at his website that he is maintained for close to 20 years.

While I don’t want to deny anybody their fond memories, I have seen very little consideration for the station’s owners and staff members who are losing their jobs – some of them after being with the station as long as it’s been an all news operation. Two people who come to mind are Elaine Effort and P.J. Maloney who are taking this opportunity to retire… although it wouldn’t surprise me if either of them would jump at another opportunity somewhere.

Remember that radio stations don’t exist just for our entertainment. They exist as a business in this ever-changing environment and still can be a viable business if they are willing to change the business model to fit the times. But sometimes the best business decision, to get the most bang for your buck as it were, may seem like the worst decision to make in the eyes and ears of the listening public who seemed to take KQV’s existence for granted in recent years.

Lastly, I’ve heard that nothing came of the station auction on December 27. So the equipment and the license remain in play for anyone willing to shell out the dough.

14 thoughts on “What are we mourning exactly?

  1. While I agree with some of what you’ve said Eric, I believe it was the current ownerships their lack of vision that killed KQV. Have you looked at the station’s website? It was cutting edge circa 1980. There is no advertising, no dynamic content, no way for car dealers to show videos, etc. How about the station’s use of Twitter? Right, there is none. Almost completely unforgivable for a station beyond 2009. There was no attempt to add digital content to combat the limited signal, no FM translator or repeator. If the KQV news format was filled with vision; KQV of the last 20 years has been a myopic station killed by its own decay.

  2. I’m gonna play devil’s advocate here for a moment. I personally don’t think any of the younger Dickeys knew what they were getting into when they acquired KQV. Unlike the larger conglomerates, Mom and Pop’s pockets do have a bottom. And applying for a translator is not as easy as it sounds. There are restrictions on where it can be put, like any full power AM or FM signal. As for the website, yes, not having a webmaster experienced in website revenue development didn’t really help, but how many stations are utilizing their sites in that manner now? My own experience as a station owner says no one is beating down the door to advertise on radio station’s websites, even if it’s value-added. Eric, please don’t forget Joe Fenn among the employees being shown the door. Joe was at KQV during the final years as a Top 40, along with George Hart as part of the “Coal and Steel” evening team. Joe was there when it signed off in 1975, then came back later in the 1990s as an anchor. He gave me my first Pittsburgh radio gig in 1990…and he is by far one of the best people in the business. Class act in every way.

    1. Actually, as I understand it, Joe retired at the end of September and wasn’t seeking falderal over it. We respected his wishes, but still wish him the best.

  3. I agree the news staff of KQV deserves a lot of respect and it is a shame they’ve lost their jobs. I hope they can find something rewarding to replace those jobs, somewhere in journalism if they choose. But it probably won’t be in radio unless they are very lucky or have solid connections.

    As for fans of KQV ignoring the past 42 years in favor of the station’s Top 40 era, could it be that KQV in those days was at the top of the ratings for a music station, while the news oriented KQV dwelled near the cellar? Not assigning blame, but look at the ratings disparity. The Top 40 incarnation was just listened to, and revered, a lot more.

  4. KQV was successful with its all-news format at first (most notably in the early 1980s, when WTAE was #2 in the market) but in recent years, like most AM outlets, its ratings had faded. To answer Eric’s question, what we’re mourning is the loss of an historic radio station. Some are mourning the all-news outlet; others are mourning the Top 40 powerhouse it once was; others (if any are living) may be mourning the former Mutual/CBS affiliate; still others are simply sorry to see another signal go silent. KQV was many things to many people over the years. It had a great influence on many listeners, but perhaps most prominently during its popular days of playing the hits. All of it is worth remembering, and eulogizing.

  5. Good point. I am mourning the loss of the all news format in Pittsburgh. I have always
    been a fan of WCBS and WINS in New York.

    While I have fond memories of their top 40 days, I realize they have been all news a lot
    longer. I remember when I was in high school when they changed formats and a kid I went to school with asked me “what is all news, and how can they do that”? I told him
    it was a format that had been used in other cities.

    The biggest crime is that they will not reach their 100th birthday as a station. They
    were truly unique in that they were one of only 3 stations east of the Mississippi that
    had a K beginning their call letters. Also they unique in that they only had 3 call
    letters instead of 4.

    I hope someone takes them over and can keep the call letters at least. If they survive at
    all it’ll probably be some type of satellite service similar to what happened to 1250 and
    1320.

    It would be nice to see an all news service survive in Pittsburgh in some form. However
    I know this is not New York and that format is very expensive. Unfortunately it’s just a
    sign of the times.

  6. I totally agree with Ken Hawk on all counts. KQV’s demise probably has more parallels than anyone has noticed so far to the fall of the house known as the old Clark Building on the North Shore. Whether you liked him or not, Richard Mellon Scaife’s passing was the beginning of the end for a lot of Pittsburgh area journalism, including The Daily News in McKeesport, the print edition of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and, of course, KQV. I remember KQV’s pop days, knowing also in that time some of the people who made WIXZ what it was as a competitor while I was as Penn State-McKeesport. Still, whether news consumers in Pittsburgh realize it or not (and they probably don’t), a great loss has occurred in a city that scarcely can afford many more media hits.

  7. For those of us who reside in the City of Pittsburgh, KQV’s demise is going to leave an awfully big hole in public awareness of local issues. Nobody covered the machinations of city government better than KQV…not the PG, none of the TV newscasts. Nobody.

  8. Beyond the loss of an independent journalistic voice, there is the fact that
    WWSW, KDKA, WCAE, WJAS, and KQV were the original 5 AM stations in Pittsburgh, dating to the 1920’s. AM is dying. That is sad. But nothing will change the inevitable.

  9. I must have left my Sonos system active Sunday night when KQV went off the air. That’s how I listen to the digital feed of most radio stations.

    This morning about 6am, Sonos came blaring to life on speakers throughout the house with a signal apparently from KQV, which is where it was set the last time I used it.

    It seems to be national programming from Bloomberg. Still playing over eight hours later. Any idea what’s going on? I thought KQV was done broadcasting.

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