Talker Todd Schnitt to leave WFLA-AM Dec. 18, may end nearly 20 years in Tampa radio
After nearly 20 years on Tampa Bay area radio, Todd Schnitt may soon see a day when he won't host a show broadcast in the market.
Schnitt announced on Twitter Thursday that Tampa station WFLA-AM (970) would stop airing his self-titled political talk show on Dec. 18, effectively removing his program from its flagship station in the local radio market.
The Schnitt Show will still air on over 50 stations across the country, on XM Satellite Radio and online; But Schnitt said he will host the show from a new studio after he leaves WFLA, where he currently broadcasts from studios along Gandy Boulevard in Tampa.
“I look forward to focusing on the Schnitt Show and my network and its continued growth,” the host said Friday, declining to speculate on whether he might land at another Tampa station. “I’m ready to be my own boss.”
Schnitt rejected notions his departure from WFLA was a setback, saying the change would give him more control over elements of his show and commercial sales.
He was the market’s top morning personality for years while hosting his MJ Morning Show on WFLZ-FM (93.3). But Schnitt left that program not long after his 18th anniversary in that timeslot in February -- after executive instituted changes which reduced his time on air -- saying he planned to spend more time on his political talk program.
“I’m very thankful for my time in Tampa radio,” he said. “Not many guys have been on the air almost continuously for 20 years.”
"Our search begins today; we're looking for the next local host on WFLA," said Steve Versnick, program director for WFLA, who declined to comment on the reason Schnitt's show was pulled from the station's lineup, or what kind of show might replace it. Versnick could not say what might fill Schnitt's 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. timeslot after Dec. 18; if the station follows past practices, options could include fill-in hosts or tryouts of prospective hosts.
News that the station is looking for a local host rules out the possibility WFLA might air Fox News host Sean Hannity's radio show live when he broadcasts it at 3 p.m. Currently, Hannity's show airs on WFLA at 6 p.m.
A native of New York City, Schnitt came to Tampa after stints at radio stations in New York and West Palm Beach. He joined B.J. Harris, then also working as operations manager at WFLZ, leading it's newly-adopted, irreverent "Power Pig" format under the name M.J. Kelli as part of The MJ and BJ Show in 1994.
By 2001, Harris was gone, later admitting he had a problem with cocaine which derailed his life and career. Schnitt kept hosting a retitled MJ Morning Show, adding the 3 p.m. Schnitt Show on WIOD in Miami that year and on WFLA the next year.
Schnitt announced his departure from WFLA the same way he announced his move from WFLZ earlier this year, delivering a Twitter message to his fans, noting "My last show on 970WFLA/Tampa will be December 18. The Schnitt Show will continue on my affiliate stations across the country."