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WWBA-AM tries reinventing itself through news sharing agreement with WTSP-Ch. 10

wwba820_slidetile.jpgIt's been a rough couple of years for the folks at Genesis Communications.

Back in January 2010, the Tampa-based radio station chain had transformed its high-profile 820 AM signal from Spanish-language WMGG to conservative talker WWBA, hiring a five-person local morning team to challenge market leader WFLA-AM (970).

But then the bottom fell out of the media business and Genesis, which also owns five other radio stations throughout Florida, laid off half its staff, including longtime local personalities Roger Schulman and Shayna Lance.

Genesis Communications president Bruce Maduri now hopes to reinvent WWBA as an mostly-news channel in the mold of New York's classic WINS newschannel, announcing a news sharing agreement with St. Petersburg CBS station WTSP-Ch. 10. WWBA will simulcast WTSP's 5 a.m. newscast, while also featuring its weather updates and local news reporting, along with links to the TV station's stories on its website.

genesiscomm_139489215.jpgMaduri said WWBA will alternate between 15 minutes or local reporting and 15 minutes of national news from the America's Radio News service. But regular local reporting is a labor intensive effort, and Maduri says they haven't yet hired the two reporters he hopes to use in creating WWBA's material.

Like a lot of media companies which tried building their business just before the  recession, Genesis faced having just spent loads of money to build an operation as advertising revenues were shrinking and the method for collecting radio ratings changed. Eventually, they moved their headquarters from a glitzy studio in Tampa to a 23-acre space in Largo shared with a cattle and alpaca ranch.

Now the syndicated talk shows which once aired on WWBA, including Mancow, Dennis Miller, Michael Smerconish and Michael Savage, have all moved to WMGG-AM (1470), a signal which Maduri admits will be tougher for fans to hear. But he's positioning WWBA's stronger signal as counterprogramming to opniion shows airing elsewhere.

"WFLA is a juggernaut; to try to compete with them was tough," Maduri said. "We decided to carve our own niche -- an all-news format."

[Last modified: Friday, July 1, 2011 11:00am]


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