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Tampa radio station 101.5 has changed from Top 40 to R&B format

The change comes after 12 years as one of Tampa Bay’s best-performing Top 40 stations.
 
After a day of playing a loop of Mary J. Blige, shown here at the 2022 Super Bowl, Tampa radio station 101.5-FM switched from a Top 40 format to R&B.
After a day of playing a loop of Mary J. Blige, shown here at the 2022 Super Bowl, Tampa radio station 101.5-FM switched from a Top 40 format to R&B. [ CHRIS O'MEARA | AP ]
Published Sept. 11, 2023

After a whole day of playing Mary J. Blige’s “Just Fine” on a loop last Thursday, Tampa radio station 101.5-FM switched from a Top 40 format to R&B.

WPOI officially flipped to adult R&B with “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison, Patrice Rushen’s “Forget Me Nots” and Aaliyah’s “Rock The Boat.” It was promoting $1,000 giveaways on Monday.

Concurrent with the change, Cox applied for new WTBV call letters for the station.

“We’re excited to launch 101.5 The Vibe and satisfy a significant format need in Tampa’s rapidly growing market,” said Rob Babin, executive vice president of Cox radio in a news release. “We program our radio stations with local research and audience feedback, so they are tailored to each market.”

Cox also altered its similar Jacksonville station to extend its signal’s reach and said the move was aimed at adult contemporary listeners and will “demonstrate our commitment to the Urban AC format.”

The station, long known for playing oldies and 1980s hits, switched to a Top 40 format in 2011, taking direct aim iHeartMedia’s 93.3-FM WFLZ that targeted an 18–49 year old audience. It had success but recently dropped in the ratings.

The flip ends the 12-year run of a station that was arguably the most successful Top 40 radio station in the Tampa Bay market in the late 2000s, according to the industry website Radio Insight.

“The new brand is positioning as ‘Tampa Bay’s Only R&B’ as it fills a niche not normally done in the market,” noted Radio Insight’s domain insight column on the industry.

The hip-hop station, iHeartMedia’s 95.7 The Beat WBTP, has moved from a mix of hip-hop and adult R&B to a more standard hip-hop playlist, while NIA Broadcasting’s 1150 WTMP emphasizes R&B Oldies.