Tampa public radio station WUSF-FM goes all news/information/jazz today
Cosmopolitan as the Tampa Bay area can be, one surprise for visitors moving here can be how little National Public Radio programming is available, compared to similar-sized cities.
No Talk of the Nation. No Diane Rehm Show. And Fresh Air, one of NPR's most popular shows, aired episodes one day late at 10 a.m.
No longer. Starting today, Tampa's WUSF-FM (89.7) joins a trend stations in Ft. Myers, Orlando and Jacksonville already embraced, dropping its daytime classical music format for a slate of NPR and BBC programming leading into its nighttime jazz broadcasts.
My story on the change in Sunday's Floridian noted the reason; ratings figures show WUSF's audience share dropped by as much as 75 percent when transitioning from NPR's popular Morning Edition to classical music broadcasts at 9 a.m. Only about half that share comes back for the afternoon show, All Things Considered. And WUSF's Top 10 hours include no classical music, instead focused on NPR favorites.
Classical music fans must wait a bit longer, as technical problems kept WUSF from debuting the new 24-hour classical music station WSMR-FM (89.1) today, delaying the start for days, possibly until next week.
And none of this comes cheap. According to figures provided by WUSF, programming costs for both stations will rise by $191,537 in fiscal year 2011, despite first-year discounts extended by program providers for the shows.
One disappointment for me: WUSF will not air former ABC correspondent Michel Martin's multicultural-focused show Tell Me More, despite initially announcing the show would be included in the schedule. Program director Sheila Rue said she felt the show wasn't distinctive enough; instead, public radio shows focused on minority issues such as The Tavis Smiley Show and Latino USA will air on the weekends.
One problem with the Tampa Bay area's radio scene, has been that listeners uninterested in conservative talk have had few daytime options outside of community radio station WMNF-FM's eclectic programming and NPR's major shows at 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. Now those hoping to hear more moderate voices in the midday have a new alternative, placing the local radio scene on a par with other cities across the country.
Check out the new lineup and feel free to leave comments here on what you hear. Click here to see a .PDF of WUSF's new schedule.