WTMP Finds a New, High Profile Home on Fowler Ave.
When New York-based investment firm D.B. Zwirn confirmed plans to lease longtime black-owned Tampa radio station WTMP-1150 AM, along with eight other radio stations controlled by the Cherry family, media watchers grew concerned.
After all, a white-owned investment firm from New York City was taking control of Tampa's heritage radio station -- focused on black issues and the black community for more than 50 years. Would the new owners keep the station focused on the black community? Would they invest in the station or use it as a piggy bank?
According to the station's new manager Chris McMurray, the answer at least one of those questions is yes. McMurray says the station will move from its current headquarters to a street-level retail space at 1251 East Fowler Ave. -- spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to create a new studio easily accesible to the public. It's the same tactic Zwirn took in Youngstown, Ohio, when the company bought a string of stations there.
"We have no visibility here...Who sees you here? Who knows you're here?" said McMurray of WTMP's current offices, a cramped space along an out-of-the-way stretch of Washington Blvd. in Tampa. "To me, that's what radio is -- it's in the middle of a community."
McMurray expects WTMP will be moved into the space owned by co-tenant J&B Carpet Store by February. She could not say whether the company would implement a similar plan at any of the eight other Cherry-owned stations Zwirn was leasing to own.