World radio has arrived. But even as we listen to sounds from around the world, we tune in to the continuing saga of comings and goings in our own market.
Even with TV to watch, Web pages to visit and cell phones to answer, we still found time in 2000 to listen to the radio.
But how we listen is changing. More people are turning on their computers to hear their favorite radio stations. Don't like the local stuff? No problem _ the Web lets you hear programs from across the country or around the world.
In 2001, satellite invades the airwaves. Two companies, Sirius and XM, will start selling music/news/talk radio for about $10 a month. Think it's goofy to pay for something you get for free? That's what they said about cable TV.
But in 2000, radio chugged along in ways not all that different from the Golden Age of the medium. Temperamental on-air personalities threatened to quit if they didn't get their way. Stations invented creative promotions, sponsored events and fought against each other for better ratings.
Tampa Bay area radio had plenty of action this year. In no particular order, here are some of the highlights:
Kidcasters: The area's Radio Disney station, WWMI-AM 1380, practiced what it preached by putting real kids on the air. The Kidcaster program kicked off in May, and since then, 10 kids have been on air talking about issues important to them, such as sports, movie reviews, school violence and the environment.
Survivor Island: Based on the popularity of TV's Survivor series, WFLZ-FM 93.3 morning man MJ Kelli developed the "MJ & BJ $10,000 Survivor Island" which included the creation of an island in the Tampa parking lot of WFLZ's owner, Clear Channel Communications. The island had a working waterfall, a boat and a small bridge, among other aesthetic touches.
Change is good: Thank you, thank you, thank you, WSUN-FM 97.1 (97X) for ridding the Tampa Bay radio market of one of its many oldies stations and replacing it with alternative rock music, a format the area has never had. Now, where's the new 97X morning show?
Glenn Beck: The WFLA-AM 970 talk show host brought entertainment back to afternoon drive time. Not since Lionel has the blend of issue-oriented talk and comedy been so smooth.
Nancy Alexander on national TV: The Live with Regis morning television show chose WMTX-FM 100.7 (Mix) and WTVT-Ch. 13 personality Nancy Alexander to be first in its "Women in Radio" week. Alexander held her own against the irascible Philbin and got through the show like a pro.
Dave McKay vs. Bubba: Kudos to country station WQYK-FM 99.5 afternoon host Dave McKay for taking on WXTB-FM 97.9's Bubba the Love Sponge in a boxing match, when nobody else would. The event raised money for the Chidi Ahanotu Sponsorship Fund. Bubba won, but McKay put up a heck of a fight.
Don Imus on WTAN: When sports station WQYK-AM 1010 dropped Imus in the Morning, WTAN-AM 1340 stepped in and added the show to its lineup, much to the relief of Imus fans. Now, if only WTAN would upgrade its signal so more listeners could tune in.
Mason Dixon rebounds: After veteran local radio guy Mason Dixon was fired from WAKS-FM 100.7 (now WMTX) in 1999, he was off the air for six months because of a non-compete clause in his contract. He has since popped up on oldies station WYUU-FM 92.5 with his sidekicks, Jo Jo Walker and Bill Connolly.
Election coverage: News/talk station WFLA-AM 970 handled the election mess well with timely updates and expert guests. The station smartly booted the syndicated Dr. Laura Schlessinger Show off the air in favor of local election talk from the likes of former WFLA host Mark Larsen and A.M. Tampa Bay co-host Tedd Webb. Alas, she's back.
Different classic rock: Classic rock station WHPT-FM 102.5 management says it didn't change its play list when it changed its moniker to "Hard Classic Rock." But it sure sounded that way. And that's a good thing, considering we've got two classic rock stations in the area. While competitor WTBT-FM 103.5 plays the Beatles, WHPT plays Def Leppard.
Empowerment radio: On A Roll, a talk show about disability lifestyle issues, is not only a welcome addition to the airwaves, but host Greg Smith's arrival gives us another locally based syndicated show.