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CBS Radio drops former smooth jazz station WSJT-FM to create Play 98.7



play987-logo.jpgCBS Radio has just created a new station in the Tampa Bay area, dropping the onetime smooth jazz of WSJT-FM (98.7) to create a new station, called Play 98.7.

Out the window goes Kenny G., Lee Ritenour, Anita Baker and all the other mainstays of the pop/jazz fusion/R&B hybrid critics once derisively called Fuzak.

In its place, is a station focused on the Adult CHR (contemporary hit radio) format, with a slogan promising "today's best hits, without the rap." That means plenty of Katy Perry, Kings of Leon, Train, John Mayer, Maroon 5, and Rob Thomas, to draw adults aged 25 to 44. The change took place at 3 p.m. today.

"The smooth jazz format nationally has eroded, said Don Howe, Tampa market manager for CBS Radio, noting that they tried tweaking WSJT's format by playing more pop artists such as Michael Jackson, with no success. "For one reason or another, it didn't affect the station's ratings."

As Howe explained it, the new station, Play 98.7, is an attempt to serve a narrow niche competing radio stations aren't. Sure you can hear Katy Perry on Clear Channel's WFLZ, but you might also hear some rap; Rob Thomas pops up on Clear Channel WMTX-FM (100.7), but you might also hear some old U2.

Play is an attempt to thread that narrow needle with new songs aimed at an adult audience. 

Howe said Play will have a new on air crew, all local, hired by program director Orlando Davis -- who is also the program director and morning personality at WLLD. Local radio industry types have buzzed for a while about the possiblity of a format change, ever since CBS Radio placed rap and dance station WLLD at WSJT's former frequency, 94.1, pushing the smooth jazz station to the less powerful 98.7.

Now WSJT's smooth jazz sounds will be relegated to its HD radio frequency, WSJT 98.7 HD2, and online streaming at,, AOL Radio, and Yahoo! Music.  Howe said WSJT personality Alicia Kaye will remain doing part time and fill-in work.

The new station will play music comercial free through Labor Day weekensd, Howe expects the first new talent to appear in drive time next week.

Below is CBS Radio's press release: 

Tampa, Fla. – Today, Tuesday, August 31 at 3:00 PM, ET, WSJT-FM will become Play 98.7™, Tampa’s new hit music station.  Play 98.7 will broadcast “today’s best hits, without the rap” and feature popular music from artists such as Katy Perry, Kings of Leon, Train, John Mayer, Maroon 5, and Rob Thomas, among others.  Play 98.7’s playlist and station information can be found at 

As of 3:00 PM today, Play 98.7 will be heard on-air at 98.7, streaming online at, and via a variety of mobile devices including the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Blackberry, and Zune. Fans of the station can interact and stay up-to-date via Play 98.7’s social networking pages on Facebook and Twitter (  The station will also have the most current music related content and blogs that will be populated by the local Play 98.7 staff.  In the neighboring community, the station will have a strong presence producing and partnering with lifestyle events and concerts.  Play 98.7 will be programmed by Orlando Davis, current Program Director and morning show host for WLLD, WiLD 94.1.  Davis is currently assembling the on-air staff, and will announce appointments and updates in the coming weeks. 

CBS RADIO Tampa Senior Vice President and Market Manager Don Howe said, “Play 98.7 will connect a number of great artists to their local fans and diversify CBS RADIO’s offerings in Tampa. The station will provide the Tampa Bay Area with a great radio experience along with an integrated and interactive platform for Adult CHR music and its fans to be heard.”

Fans of WSJT’s Smooth Jazz format can access the programming on-air via the station’s secondary HD frequency, WSJT 98.7 HD2, or streaming online at,, AOL Radio, and Yahoo! Music.  Smooth 98.7 HD2 will remain a dominant voice in the community and continue to hold and promote local events on-air and online.

WSJT-FM is owned and operated by CBS RADIO, one of the largest major-market radio operators in the United States. A division of CBS Corporation, CBS RADIO operates 130 radio stations, the majority of which are in the nation’s top 50 markets. CBS RADIO also owns and operates WYUU, WQYK-FM, WQYK-AM, WRBQ, and WLLD in Tampa.

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 7:33pm]


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