Judy Jankowski, who held top management positions at several public broadcasting stations, died Dec. 17  at Kindred Hospital in Westminster, Calif. She was 61. She started her long pubcasting career as a traffic manager at WOUB in Athens, Ohio, worked as g.m. of Pittsburgh’s WDUQ from the mid-1980s until 1994, and then managed another leading jazz station — KLON, now KKJZ in Long Beach, Calif. — until retiring in 2005.
When Duquesne University declined to accept bids for WDUQ-FM by its staff and supporters, an alliance of Pittsburgh foundations stepped in to put the sale on hold May 4. Adding an unusual time-out to the high-stakes playbook of colleges divesting broadcast properties, the foundations acquired a 60-day option to develop plans recasting the station with a stronger focus on news and information. “The foundations’ goal is to give the community time to put forward the best possible bid” and not to purchase the station, said Grant Oliphant, president of the Pittsburgh Foundation. Local foundation leaders want to explore possibilities for a “much more aggressive news and information focus” for WDUQ, he said. “We are trying to gather intelligence on where public media seems to be going and how Pittsburgh could become an example of the very best of the breed.”
The foundations hired Charlie Humphrey, executive director of Pittsburgh Filmmakers and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, to plan a news-focused service and lay the groundwork for a new bid.
Pittsburgh jazz/news station WDUQ finds itself in the middle of an abortion-politics hardball contest between its licensee, Catholic-run Duquesne University, and Planned Parenthood. Soon after WDUQ began running Planned Parenthood underwriting spots Oct. 8 , the university ordered the station to stop accepting money from a group “not aligned with our Catholic identity,” even though the underwriting went solely to the station. Though abortion is one of the reproductive health services offered by the local Planned Parenthood affiliate, the word wasn’t used in the spots. The text for one spot said: “Support for WDUQ comes from Planned Parenthood—reducing unintended pregnancy by improving access to contraception.” Another spot mentioned optional abstinence training.
Seventeen million dollars slipped through WQED’s fingers last week when a partner in its long-delayed deal to sell sister channel WQEX abruptly backed out, even though they had won a go-ahead at the FCC a month earlier. George Miles, president of the Pittsburgh station, paraphrased a newspaper report on the turnabout: “We have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.” Important issues about pubcasting’s reserved channels were at stake in both WQED’s victory and its defeat, but they got little attention as all eyes turned to a couple waves of explosive controversy surrounding the FCC decision:
First, in mid-December , reporters swarmed over the news that Presidential candidate and FCC overseer Sen. John McCain had intervened to hurry up the FCC decision on behalf of Paxson Communications, a campaign contributor that was part of the three-way WQEX deal. Then, at the end of the month, religious broadcasters recoiled and conservative politicians raged when the FCC spelled out its thinking behind its WQEX decision. This week, Rep. Michael Oxley (R-Ohio) and 42 or more co-sponsors will introduce a bill to undo the FCC’s new guidelines for religious broadcasters on reserved educational channels.
FCC members approved the proposed sale of WQED’s second station, WQEX, in a split vote. See also the
text of the order, Dec. 15, 1999.William Kennard and Gloria Tristani (Democrats)
Michael Powell and Harold Furchtgott-Roth (Republicans)
Susan Ness (Democrat)
Statement of Chairman William Kennard and Commissioner Gloria Tristani, dissenting in part
We disagree with the majority’s decision not to designate Cornerstone’s application for hearing. Under Section 73.621 of our rules, an applicant for a reserved channel must demonstrate that the station “will be used primarily to serve the educational needs of the community.” If there is any substantial and material question of fact on that issue, the Commission must designate the application for hearing on the issue of whether the applicant’s proposed programming is primarily educational.
On Dec. 15, 1999, the FCC approved a swap/sale deal that would have enabled Pittsburgh public TV station WQED to sell its second channel, WQEX, to raise capital and pay longstanding debts. (The deal fell through Jan. 18, 2000, when Cornerstone TeleVision backed out.)
See also separate statements by the commissioners. WQED developed the complex plan after the commission in 1996 declined to drop the noncommercial reservation on WQEX.
Before the Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of Deletion of Noncommercial Reservation of Channel *16, 482-488 MHz, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Adopted: July 24, 1996
Released: August 1, 1996By the Commission: Commissioner Ness issuing a statement; Commissioner Chong concurring and issuing a statement in which Commissioner Quello joins. 1. The Commission has before it for consideration a “Petition to Delete Noncommercial Reservation” filed on June 24, 1996 by WQED Pittsburgh (WQED or the Company), licensee of noncommercial educational television stations WQED(TV), Channel *13 and WQEX(TV), Channel *16, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. WQED requests that its Channel *16 allotment be dereserved in order to permit commercial broadcasting on Channel 16 in Pittsburgh, and that it be permitted to assign WQEX(TV) to a commercial licensee and use the net proceeds to further WQED(TV)’s noncommercial broadcast operation. WQED’s petition is filed pursuant to the Department of Justice and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 1996, Pub.
In fall 1992, a number of public broadcasting’s gatekeepers opened their gates to give candidates unedited, unmediated “free time” to talk with the electorate over the air. Here’s a first-hand report on the experience, from two public radio program directors — Dave Becker of WDUQ, Pittsburgh, and Dave Kanzeg of WCPN, Cleveland. We’re here to confess to breaking a few broadcasting rules. They’re not in any FCC handbooks or federal code, but they seem to be universal anyway:
Never break your regular format for politics. Never give up control of your station’s sound to politicians.