Radio host Todd Schnitt to leave flagship station WFLA-AM Dec. 18

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 Thursday on Twitter 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 more than 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 time slot in February, 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."

Steve Versnick, program director for WFLA, could not say what might fill Schnitt's 3 to 6 p.m. time slot. He declined to comment on why Schnitt's show is leaving the station's lineup or what kind of show might replace it.

"Our search begins today; we're looking for the next local host on WFLA," he said. 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 in 1994 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 its newly-adopted, irreverent "Power Pig" format under the name M.J. Kelli as part of The MJ and BJ Show.

By 2001, Harris was gone, later admitting he had a problem with cocaine that 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: "My last show on 970WFLA/Tampa will be December 18. The Schnitt Show will continue on my affiliate stations across the country."

The host said more details, including 20 more affiliates joining his network, will be revealed soon.

Radio host Todd Schnitt to leave flagship station WFLA-AM Dec. 18 11/30/12 [Last modified: Friday, November 30, 2012 10:48pm]

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