Personal and financial advice from Bruce Williams will be silenced on Tampa Bay area radio, perhaps by July 1, unless another station picks up the popular show. WSUN (620-AM), the current affiliate of Talknet, the network that carries Williams' nightly program (7-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri.), has decided to play its brand of country music around the clock and as soon as possible.
"We want to be consistent with our programing (24 hours)," WSUN general manager Bob Huntley said last Friday. "Our marketing is 100 percent country, and we want our programing to be consistent with that."
He said negotiations with Talknet continue regarding when WSUN can sever its ties. Talknet's Bob Wogan said that WSUN's 90-day notice runs deep into August, but that July 1 could be the network's final date with the station, apparently if another affiliate can be located. Talknet offers its programs free of charge, the station's only obligation being to carry a certain amount of advertising.
WSUN's dismissal of Talknet virtually completes a programing turnaround since Cox Broadcasting bought the station from CBS in the spring of 1990. At the time of the purchase WSUN was programing strictly news blocks and talk programs from Talknet. Cox immediately switched WSUN back to a suggestion of its former country self, even though another AM country station, WQYK (1010-AM) had emerged in the interim. Tampa Bay now will have three full-time country outlets, the other being WQYK-FM (99.5).
There appears to be a very limited landing area for Williams, unless another station decides to enter the talk format. WFLA's nightly Jay Marvin Show has handily been topping Williams' ratings lately, even though Williams remains one of the stronger points of WSUN's ratings day.
Given WFLA's current 8 p.m.-midnight ratings, "I'd be an idiot to cancel the (Jay Marvin) show," WFLA operations manager Gabe Hobbs said. "The only interest we would have in Bruce would be on a delayed broadcast basis." He said that if Williams somehow arrived at WFLA, it would run overnights, replacing current 3-5 a.m. reruns of The Rush Limbaugh Show.
WTKN (570-AM), which has been all-news with some talk during the evenings, said it would examine its options regarding Williams should the opportunity arise. "I've not been approached by NBC as of yet," WTKN general manager Gordon Obarski said.
WEND (760-AM), a local talk outlet with a most erratic signal, is about fixed on the Sun Radio Network, which appears to be fully in charge of programing that station. That wouldn't leave much room for an outside link with Talknet. "From a business perspective, I would doubt that we would consider it," WEND program director Karl Moore said. Although not the station owner, the Sun Network manages WEND, Moore said. That makes for a curiously cozy arrangement that tends to keep outsiders outside.
"We might take a look at it," WDAE general manager Marc Kaye said. "If we decide to do anything, the only problem with Talknet is the limited amount of time they offer (nights only). It interests me, but I'm not so sure that I'd want to do (talk) on a part-time basis."
Huntley said that WSUN would also be dumping its news affiliation with NBC. Its local news department, with daytime stalwarts Sharon Taylor and Bill Burnette, may be taking up the air time vacated by NBC should a major network news affiliation not be available. Taylor and Burnette are the sole on-air holdovers from WSUN's days with CBS.