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Tampa public radio station WUSF-FM to go all NPR and jazz Sept. 15, shifting classical music to Sarasota station



Wusf For years, Tampa's WUSF-FM (89.7) has negotiated a careful balance between its classical music fans and a much larger news and information audience tethered to its National Public Radio programs.

But the balancing act ends Sept. 15, when WUSF turns WSMR-FM (89.1), a 50,000-watt contemporary Christian radio station in Sarasota, into a full-time classical music station. On the same day, WUSF will change formats to feature NPR programming during the day and jazz programs at night, theoretically satisfying both audiences by giving them each their own radio station.

The change means NPR shows previously unavailable as first-run programs in the market, including Fresh Air, Tell Me More, The Diane Rehm Show and Talk of the Nation will now air in daytime on WUSF.

WUSF will spend $1.275-million buying WSMR, which signs off at 5 p.m. today, using a 10-year loan from the University of South Florida Foundation. But some classical music fans may have trouble hearing the station at first, with reception difficulties expected in Northern Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties. (WSMR's signal is expected to reach Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, Desoto and Hardee counties, along with parts of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk and Lee counties.)

WUSF general manager JoAnn Urofsky said the moves are an investment in the public radio station's future, expanding their potential audience by 500,000 people and expanding programs for news and information fans -- which tend to outnumber classical music fans at public radio stations across the country.

"We don't want to leave anybody in the lurch," said Urofsky, noting the station will try to use technology to boost WSMR's signal in affected areas; the classical programming will be available online and on WUSF's HD radio channel.

WUSF does not plan to hire more staff, shifting its current lineup of classical announcers to WSMR and supplementing their work with Classical 24, a syndicated music service offered by NPR. There are also no definite plans yet to start a local news broadcast, Urofsky said.

At a time when the economy has battered stations which rely on listener contributions like WUSF, Urofsky is hoping the larger footprint of two station will bring more contributors to fund the increased programming costs and WSMR purchase.

163px-National_Public_Radio_logo.svg Here's the new schedule for WUSF:

5 a.m. to 9 a.m. -- Morning Edition

9 a.m. to 10 a.m. -- BBC News Hour

10 a.m. to 12 p.m. -- The Diane Rehm Show

12 p.m. to 1 p.m. -- Fresh Air with Terry Gross

1 p.m. to 2 p.m. -- Tell Me More

2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Talk of the Nation

3 p.m. to 4 p.m. -- The World

4 p.m. to 6 p.m. -- All Things Considered

6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. -- Marketplace

6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. -- BBC News (local show, Florida Matters on Tues)

7 p.m. to 8 p.m. -- Fresh Air

8 p.m. to 9 p.m. -- Q from the Canadian Broadcast Corporation

9 p.m. to 10 p.m. The Story

10 p.m. to 5 a.m. -- All night jazz programming

Click below to read WUSF's press release:

WUSF_logo WUSF Public Media Announces Exciting Changes to Better Serve its Audiences in West Central Florida

Media organization to purchase WSMR 89.1 in Sarasota; make formatting changes to WUSF 89.7

TAMPA, Fla. (August 4, 2010) – WUSF Public Media announces today it is making some exciting changes to its radio programming to better serve listeners in west central Florida. The media organization has purchased the radio license of WSMR 89.1 in Sarasota. Beginning September 15th, WSMR will broadcast an all-classical format and WUSF 89.7 will change to all news and information with jazz overnight. The HD radio channel, WUSF 89.72 will simulcast the classical programming on WSMR 89.1.

“This purchase of WSMR and the format changes on both WUSF 89.7 and WSMR 89.1 will allow WUSF Public Media to significantly increase public media services for the people of west central Florida,” said JoAnn Urofsky, general manager of WUSF Public Media. “We will be able to provide more programming options for our listeners and attract new listeners.”

The broadcast area of WSMR will cover all of Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, Desoto and Hardee counties. Parts of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk and Lee counties. The purchase of the station will potentially reach an additional 500,000 listeners in the southern portion of WUSF 89.7’s broadcast area.

WUSF Public Media is also working on projects to extend the reach of the existing WSMR 89.1 signal to include the audience in northern Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. The classical music on WSMR 89.1 will be available to a worldwide listening audience online at, on the HD radio signal WUSF 89.72, and on the WUSF mobile phone application.

“Over the past several years, WUSF Public Media has been conducting research, seeking out the needs and preferences of our audience and the results have unequivocally indicated the desire for increased media choices, both in the areas of news and information and in the music we offer,” said Urofsky.  “The acquisition of WSMR 89.1 gave us the perfect opportunity to meet these needs.”

The opportunity to purchase WSMR was presented to WUSF by Public Radio Capital (PRC), a national nonprofit organization that works to strengthen and expand public radio. The $1.275 million dollar purchase will be paid for through a loan from the USF Foundation, which will be repaid over ten years.  The station will be housed in WUSF’s studio on the campus of USF Sarasota/Manatee.

"At Public Radio Capital, we congratulate WUSF for having the vision to extend its public radio programming,” said Erik Langner, director of acquisitions. “This makes great sense for WUSF, and provides a new public radio service to the community."

WUSF Public Media is a comprehensive media organization that provides media services to the community and businesses through public broadcasting and multi-media production services. Licensed to the University of South Florida, WUSF Public Media serves the public interest through programming, educational outreach and community partnerships. For more information, visit

[Last modified: Thursday, August 12, 2010 2:16pm]


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