No Sun Up in the Sky

We reported on the changes in Florida radio here back in August. The University of South Florida planned on moving WUSF to talk-talk, with overnight jazz, while moving its classical lineup to a Sarasota non-com, WSMR, it bought up. WSMR would also go canned, plugging in American Public Media’s Classical 24 service. “For those folks north of Tampa and in other areas where they can’t receive Sarasota-based 89.1,” Tom Taylor’s report read, “the school can at least offer classical on the HD-2 channel of 89.7.”

The big switch was supposed to come September 15th, but something happened. Greg Smith sent along this link to a story out of Tampa, along with the line, “It appears that NPR’s bait-and-swtich to force listeners to purchase HD radios is just pissing them off.”

The transition Sept. 15 was supposed to be seamless. WUSF would switch to news and public affairs, with jazz at night, utter bliss for news junkies and those devoted to Fresh Air or the BBC. A new all-classical station — admittedly, one that broadcasts farther south than some WUSF listeners — would go on the air.

But what actually happened was like watching a sweet performance by a string quartet when somebody suddenly lobs a tomato….

The signal for the new classical station, WSMR-FM, turned out to interfere with a user of the same radio tower, one with emergency response services. What everyone hoped would be a delay of mere days has now stretched into a month.

And how’s this for fun: While dealing with this glitch, listener-supported WUSF is in the thick of a pledge drive…. Last year’s goal was $400,000. This year they aim for 4,000 pledges instead of a specific money amount. It’s too soon to say whether all-news enthusiasts will balance out longtime listeners who might cut ties over the classical gaffe.

The comments to the story were a mixed bag, but more than a few expressed outrage at the state of radio in Tampa, in a state that’s already seen upheaval in Gainesville over WUFT’s dumping classical music for all-talk and college rock station WRUF morphing into a country-western station. (WRUF, a 100,000-watt station, was “the fourth-highest rated in the Gainesville-Ocala market,” reads this story, and now “will compete with two established country stations in the market: K-Country 93.7 FM, the top-rated station in recent Arbitron ratings, and Thunder Country 102.3 FM, tied for seventh.” A Facebook site, here, has nearly 3,000 members after just a week.)

I am a sustaining member of WUSF and WMNF . . . If WUSF does not get this sister station online soon, I WILL depend on CDs for my Classical fix, and give ALL of my money to WMNF. Some of the new shows are really good, but I want a classical music station to listen to in the car . . . FIX IT!

I’m one who has stopped listening to WUSF. I don’t like “talk” radio regardless of what the talk is. I find WMNF to be very unprofessional, so that’s not an option to me. I’ve switched to an oldies station. I won’t be renewing my membership in WUSF.

I think that WUSF should postponed the change until they got WSMR up and running. I think they have the potential to lose and alienate a lot of their listeners from this bungling of the airwaves. I also dislike how WUSF’s program changes are affecting WMNF, 88.5. They had a very bad pledge drive last week, and a lot of it is due to WUSF going to all news/talk. If you listen to WMNF, please support it so that this excellent radio station can stay on the air.

Some of us are tired of seeing WUSF stab WMNF in the back. They brought in this “news” format when WMNF was the only one doing local news, but had also already had NPR. These are the same people that refused to let WUSF have a college radio station, like every other university has, so the USF students, who already pay a lot of tuition, had to go to WMNF. Great message to send to your Journalism majors USF. Frankly, while I do want WUSF to survive, I am glad they finally got a badly needed case of karma.

I ‘was’ a sustaining member. I have no interest in talking heads or having a HD radio installed in a brand new car. My monthly donation will now be spent on CD’s.

It seems that listeners in northern Florida will have to get used to talk-talk and cowboy-western music.


One Response

  1. […] Tampa’s WUSF in bringing up a second station acquired last summer. This was covered earlier, here, last fall, when plans had already gone astray. The move was first reported […]

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