Thursday, June 16, 2011


It's important to admit first that there is no radio on the west coast of Florida. It's so bad, the Enterprise rent-a-car map for the region lists only formats and frequencies —no call letters. The map identifies the mighty 88.5 WMNF as "variety." WMNF is audible loud and proud in the Tampa metro but also to the south, through Bradenton, Sarasota and into Port Charlotte where it starts to crap out. University of South Florida owns 89.7 WUSF and runs 100% syndicate NPR programming —nothing local at all. they also own 89.1 WSMR and there air 24/7 classical out of Sarasota.
Most of the rest of the radio band is crap. I had high hopes for 89.3 WKFA being owned by Florida Public Radio but unbeknownst to me they're part of another network of religious stations: WPIO, WEJF, WEGS, KREJ, KSNS, KSKB, KLOX, and WKTO. The religious network was first established in the early 1970s and presently carries programming from Family Life, Moody Bible Broadcasting and The Cavalry Chapel. On Sundays they have a bluegrass show and a polka show but that hardly makes up for sucking the rest of the week.

On 1320 WDDV-AM simulcasts really bland nostalgia with 1450 WSDV-AM. It is so mild, and forgettable it could almost be beautiful music, there was no beat whatsoever. 1230 WONN-AM and 720 WRZN-AM are hardly better. To me with the aging population this metro seems like a candidate for an adult standards station that can swing, something like KCEA-FM out in Atherton. The most lively thing on the AM dial in Tampa was an ethnic Greek station, 1520 WXYB-AM, which does not simulcast on their sister station 1500 WPSO-AM north of Tampa in Port Ritchie. Yes, Tampa has two different ethnic Greek music stations, and that is pretty awesome. On the way out of town I realized that gospel station 1590 WRXB-AM is also on 96.5 FM in Bradenton, via translator W243AK.
In Sarasota I found a real gem. 96.5 WSLR-LP. Sadly it gets interference on the north side from the highly dubious W243AK (see above.)  WSLR operates at a modest 23 watts and is only clear intermittently along I-75. But wow, what a station. When I tuned in Friday, they were airing Democracy now, then on Sunday,  all-Dixieland which had to be the Louisiana Gumbo Show with John Osgood. Had I passed through at other times I'd have been equally likely to find Hawaiian music as the Blues. That is the kind of station that every town needs.*Also just learned that they also carry two Native American radio programs, a rarity!

It was the last decent station I heard. In Punta Gorda WCVU's easy listening format is a novelty but not really listenable. in Ft. Meyers christian propaganda airs on every frequency from the bottom to the top of the educational band. 88.1 to 91.9 with the sole exception of 90.9 WGCU which just airs all NPR like WUSF. They have a single local program on Sunday's, a call-in program called Gulf Coast Live. But really, that brief window of WSLR around exit 210 on I-75 was the highlight of the drive.