PITTSBURGH — While many radio stations have changed formats over the years, WQED has kept classical music on the air since it was introduced five decades ago. Signing on to the broadcast airwaves at 89.3 FM on January 25, 1973, then WQED Board Chair Leland Hazard, quoting Goethe, said that “every day at least one ought to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture and if it were possible speak a few reasonable words.” Such is the purpose of WQED-FM.
While a lot has changed in 50 years, what remains constant is WQED-FM’s passion to provide listeners with an immersive and engaging classical music experience. That is coupled for providing a platform for the arts community to be heard. WQED appropriately calls it The Voice of the Arts, and for decades it has amplified Pittsburgh’s rich, and diverse arts community. WQED is often the primary, if not only, resource for the public to encounter local artists and performing groups, as well as the timeless masters of classical music.
The listener-supported station delivers classical music 24 hours a day over FM 89.3 and WQEJ –89.7 Johnstown with the accomplished radio team of Jim Cunningham, Anna Singer and Bryan Sejvar, who collectively amass 89 years to further enhance the quality of life through the genre of classical music.
WQED provides classical music and award-winning programming to nearly 100,000 listeners in the Pittsburgh region, as well as around the world through streaming, smart devices and the WQED-FM app. WQED-FM can be heard by travelers at the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport and in the PRT subway stations through Q the Music.
WQED-FM has long enjoyed a robust partnership with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, broadcasting several concerts live each year, providing Pittsburgh Symphony radio on-line, producing and distributing nationally a 26-week concert series, as well as joining the PSO during domestic and international tours.
Jim Cunningham, WQED-FM Artistic Director, who is also recognizing a milestone 45 years with the station commented, “As we continue this journey and usher WQED-FM into the future, we’ll look backwards and forwards, at the same time. We will also continue to be a megaphone for the arts community, to showcase the talent of today, and tomorrow, to ensure the community knows of the artistry that surrounds us. We are not keeping it a secret, as we have the ability to bring Pittsburgh to the world.”
“I humbled by the generosity of our family of radio donors, especially our FM Angels, who firmly believe in our mission, and provide us with the ability to keep the music playing 24-hours a day,” remarked Lilli Mosco, WQED Interim Co-COO. “There is no doubt that FM enriches lives of tens of thousands who tune in daily to discover emerging artists, connect with local culture, enjoy unique musical curations, and experience innovative programming.”
As WQED-FM celebrates its 50th birthday on Wednesday, January 25, 2023, the station invites its listeners to tune into 89.3 to get the party started! They will be treated to short performances by Pittsburgh’s finest musicians from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Chatham Baroque to Soprano Chantal Braziel and Windfluence, among others. Live interviews with members of the arts community and community leaders will also fill the day. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Councilwoman Erica Strassburger will join in festivities, declaring WQED-FM Day in Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh respectively.
A special presentation of the “Q” Award will be given to Toto Fisher, a longtime patron of the arts and collector extraordinaire. Fisher and her late husband James, and his family, provided the original seed money to get WQED-FM on the air. This is the first “Q” award, which will be bestowed on individuals who have had a marked impact on WQED-FM during its esteemed half century. Others awardees will be announced at a later date.
Throughout 2023, WQED will mark this historic 50th year on and off the air through programming and events not to be missed.
WQED-FM and Commonplace Coffee have forged an exciting new partnership to give Classical QED supporters a little pep in their step! The Classical QED 50th Anniversary Blend will be offered as a thank you gift throughout 2023. Additionally, Classical QED will unveil a commemorative CD, celebrating local artists throughout Western Pennsylvania. The CD includes live performance recordings, as well as performances captured at the WQED-FM Studios.
Throughout the year, radio listeners and television viewers will learn from neighbors what WQED means to them, and hear from the cultural community about the role that WQED plays in the artistic world.
A specially curated anniversary edition of the Voice of the Arts will soon be available on WQED-FM website, wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.
Also during this anniversary year, a new radio transmitter will be installed to replace 20-year old equipment that lately has been unreliable in carrying the WQED-FM signal to its loyal listeners. The radio transmitter is funded through the Allegheny Regional Asset District.
Underwriting support for the WQED-FM 50th anniversary year includes:
- Spanos Group of Raymond James
- Shadyside Presbyterian Church
- Pittsburgh Regional Transit
- Thiel College
- Ligonier Valley Historical Society
WQED was an experiment in educational community-supported television that was the forerunner to PBS. Today, WQED is a multimedia powerhouse that is as much a part of Pittsburgh as the three rivers. WQED is WQED-TV (PBS); WQED World; WQED Create; WQED Showcase; WQED PBS KIDS Channel; Classical WQED-FM 89.3/Pittsburgh; Classical WQEJ-FM 89.7/Johnstown; the Pittsburgh Concert Channel at WQED-HD2 (89.3-2FM) and online; streaming and apps, and WQED Interactive.
WQED is a premier leader in broadcast and digital video production, producing socially relevant, historical, arts, entertainment and educational programming resources. WQED’s Learning Neighborhood model creates an education continuum dedicated to serving our youngest neighbors through Ready To Learn programming, while engaging high school students learning filmmaking and exploring employment opportunities through the WQED Film Academy.