At a time when local musicians are having trouble finding steady gigs and exposure, an FM radio station in St. Petersburg is dedicated to playing their music.
Sunshine 96.7 FM RadioStPete received the radio license for WMTB-LP 96.7 from the Federal Communications Commission and launched on Monday.
The station was formerly known as Music Tampa Bay. The musictampabay.com website will continue, and operator Rick Crandall will appear frequently on Sunshine 96.7 FM as a host.
The station has expanded programming to feature local musicians of all genres. Jazz is featured on weekday mornings from 5-10 a.m. and includes artists from the Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association. It will carry the live Al Downing Monday Night Jazz Hour. There are acoustic, blues and young artist programs, as well as local singer-songwriters and local pop and rock.
Nearly 400 local musicians and groups are included in the catalog.
96.7 FM also recently joined the Public Radio Exchange (PRX) and added syndicated radio programs including Acoustic Café, Folk Alley and WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour to the schedule along with news, weather and traffic reports.
At the root of the new station is RadioStPete Online, an online streaming platform that was established in 2013 by Joe Bourdow, a retired Valpak president, with veteran sports broadcaster Patrick Kinas. It carries four hours of talk programming weekdays, live local event coverage and a variety of music and syndicated programing, including a classical music service from midnight until 8 a.m.
Sunshine 96.7 FM RadioStPete can be also listened to online at radiostpete.com. Free RadioStPete apps can be downloaded to phones and tablets or listened to on enabled speakers via Alexa, Google, Roku and Siri.
The nonprofit is staffed by volunteers.
“FM radio still commands a very significant ‘share of the ear,’” said Joe Bourdow, 96.7 RadioStPete president, in a news release. “Some 94 percent of adults over 35 listen to over the air radio weekly according to current research. It is important for us to be there too.”
Local organizations can send event information to the stations via firstname.lastname@example.org. Local musicians are encouraged to submit “radio ready” mp3 files to Music Director J. Kolb at email@example.com.