Tampa’s WEDU picking up new channels and programs as WUSF-TV nears shutdown

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WUSF

WUSF’s headquarters in Tampa, Fla.

Public television viewers in Tampa, Fla., are weighing in on what programs they’d like to continue watching after WUSF goes dark Oct. 15.

That’s when Tampa’s WEDU will become the sole public TV station in a market with 1.9 million television households, according to Nielsen.

The University of South Florida, licensee of WUSF’s TV and radio stations, sold the television channels for $18.7 million in the FCC spectrum auction. Those proceeds are being used to support university initiatives.

WEDU will pick up the Create and PBS Kids multichannels, said spokesperson Allison Alvarez Hedrick. “We are working on the technical aspects of that now and anticipate those channels being available in October immediately after WUSF goes off the air or very soon after,” she said.

Meanwhile, WEDU is offering WUSF viewers three complimentary months of its Premiere member magazine. It’s also asking viewers to provide feedback on programming changes through online questionnaires and in Premiere. “We are working to add programs from the WUSF-TV schedule that are not already carried by WEDU,” Hedrick said.

“Of course, securing the rights to the new programming and equipment for the new channels is an expensive endeavor,” she added, so the station hopes to get additional contributions from new members.

Hedrick said the station is “already seeing an impact in membership” since the WUSF spectrum sale was announced in February.

“Being in a market that has two PBS stations with overlapping coverage area, we do know that many of our members overlap as well and support both WEDU and WUSF TV,” she said. “We are expecting that our membership will grow both with new members and current members that may increase their support.”

An FAQ on the WUSF website says station staffers “will be part of guiding students in media and technology in the WUSF studios” after the television signal goes dark.

  • Harry Chamberlain

    Why should we support WEDU when they can take the money and run too.

    • MarkJeffries

      The auction is over with and who knows when another one will be necessary (or what changes are going to be made in broadcasting). As of now, the primary public television stations in ANY market are not going away soon.

      • Brad Deltan

        Exactly, Mark. There is near-zero chance there will ever be another spectrum auction, considering what a serious disappointment the first (and last) one was. In the years it took to organize, most of the potential bidders moved on to other technologies that didn’t need TV’s spectrum. The total amount of money raised was a comparatively paltry sum that’s having real issues just covering the costs necessary to pay the stations that “won” the auction and pay for the massive reorganization of nearly every major TV signal onto a new frequency (aka “the re-pack”).

        Even if there is, by some miracle, another auction…the last one (which technically is still happening, as the re-pack just started this summer) will have taken nearly 10 years from start to finish. You can safely support WEDU today, secure in the knowledge that there’s no way they can “take the money and run” anytime soon, and most likely never.

  • Patti B Strong

    Seems like with all the warning that WUSF and Create would end last Sunday that there would have been a plan to just switch programing over to WEDU. And what happens to all of the supporters who faithfully donated to public television. They were slapped in the face. So sad.

    • MarkJeffries

      Uh, did you read this?:

      https://www.wusf.usf.edu/tv/wusf_tv_information_and_faq

      Create is now a WEDU subchannel. “Essentially all” (WEDU’s words) of the programs that were exclusively on WUSF are now on WEDU’s Plus subchannel. If you have cable, you should already be carrying Plus and if you don’t have the new channel for Create, it will be eventually be on cable systems. If you have satellite, you’re out of luck, but that’s always been the case with subchannels. And if you watch over-the-air, the “Scan” button on your remote is your friend.

      Finally, the University of South Florida did what they did because they believed that the money from the spectrum auction would support things that would better further the university’s mission than a TV station. You still have one public TV station in Tampa Bay and it is not going away any time soon.

  • Kathleen Peacock

    Well this is all crap because nothing has returned to normal. Going on 2 weeks of my kid not having his only channel. Thanks wedu. Screwed my kid good.

    • WEDU PBS

      Kathleen, we’re sorry to hear you have not been able to locate your favorite programs yet. While WUSF ceased broadcasting on October 15th, WEDU added two new channels including PBS Kids 24/7 and Create which actually starting broadcasting on October 2nd.

      If you are watching via antenna, you may need to rescan your TV to pick up channels 3.5 (PBS KIDS) and 3.6 (Create). If you are watching via a cable provider, the only cable provider to pick the new channels at this time is Frontier (473 PBS Kids and 472 Create).

      WEDU has no control over when or if other cable providers will carry the new channels. However, we are working with them and hope they will carry the new channels in the near future. You can also contact your cable provider directly to request the new channels. (DirectTV and Dish only carry the main WEDU PBS channel.)

      If you need additional assistance to rescan or have questions, please feel free to call us at 813-254-9338. We’re happy to help.