St. Pete's WHPT-FM (The Bone) to drop classic rock format, become area's first FM talk station April 23
Cox Radio plans to drop the classic rock music format which has filled WHTP-FM (102.5 the Bone), converting to an all talk format in the mold of its biggest star, morning shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.
The change is scheduled for April 23, according to WHPT program director Michael "Shark" Sharkey, who announced the change on Clem's show this morning. The tagline: Real Raw Radio.
"There has been a level of schizophrenia on this radio station over the last 24 months," said Sharkey during the show, as Clem kept interrupting him with music as he tried to deliver the announcement. "It's time for us to do one thing and do it well...There's a conversation going on on Facebook, Twitter and we want to bring that to the radio in Tampa."
Clem and afternoon star Mike "Cowhead" Calta will keep their positions, with a new show hosted by comics Nick DiPaolo and Howard Stern sidekick Artie Lange at 10 p.m. in the evening. Cox Radio officials declined to divulge any more details on formatting during the show.
Judging by the focus of the known shows, it seems the The Bone's talk format would be focused on young men, as a terrestrial radio version of the programming which fills Stern's satellite radio channels on Sirius XM.
This seems another effect of the new radio ratings system, which more closely tracks how people listen to radio stations by placing pager-sized sensor devices on a sample of the audience. The devices track every radi osignal they are exposed to, revealing that people sample many more different radi ostations than captured in past measurement systems.
Given the stagnation of AM talk radio and the destabilization of ratings caused by the new system, industry experts have long expected that one big company would convert an FM music station to all talk. That this move would come from Cox Radio -- the last big radio chain in town to take chances and follow hunches in the way old school programmers used to in years past -- makes a certain kind of sense.
Cox Radio had success in both damaging Clear Channel morning star Todd "MJ" Schnitt and keeping mercurial morning star Clem in the fold. Now they've made a move which could turn the local radio industry on its head.
Here's the press release from Cox Radio:
102-5 THE BONE WILL BE TAMPA BAY’S FIRST FM TALK STATION, STARTING APRIL 23
For the first time ever, Tampa Bay has an FM Talk Station,
WHPT – 102-5 The Bone. Real. Raw. Radio
ATLANTA – April 11, 2012 – Cox Media Group (CMG) Tampa announced today that on Monday, April 23, 102-5 The Bone will take the next evolution of the station’s history by dropping the remaining music from its weekday programming and become Tampa Bay’s first FM talk station. But hold on, this isn’t your average talk station. This is real, raw radio!
Mornings will continue to be anchored by Tampa Bay’s highest rated morning host, Bubba The Love Sponge. The Cowhead Show will maintain their dominance in PM Drive. The wildly popular Nick and Artie show hosted by Artie Lange of Howard Stern fame and comedian Nick DiPaolo will air weeknights 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Middays and early evening shows are currently under consideration, and will be announced prior to the April 23 premiere.
“The Bone dominates the morning and afternoon drive talk shows and has room to grow in the midday and evening classic rock shows. Evolving this station into an all talk station is an obvious move,” said Keith Lawless, CMG Vice President & Market Manager. “Bubba plays no music and is clearly the market’s leader in mornings. Filling in the other day parts with compelling talk and removing all music from the already successful Cowhead Show will make The Bone dominant with men and adults all day long.”