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WFLA
Broadcast areaTampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater and Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida
Frequency970 kHz
25.87 MHz (Shortwave)
BrandingNewsradio WFLA
Programming
Language(s)English
FormatNews/talk
AffiliationsPremiere Networks
Fox News Radio
NBC News Radio
Ownership
Owner
WBTP, WDAE, WFLZ-FM, WFUS, WHNZ, WMTX, WXTB
History
First air date
1925
Former call signs
WGHB (1925-1927)
Former frequencies
1130 kHz (1925-1927)
590 kHz (1927-1929)
620 kHz (1929-1941)
940 kHz (1/1941-3/1941)
Call sign meaning
pre-ZIP code era abbreviation for Florida
Technical information
Facility ID29729
ClassB
Power25,000 watts day
11,000 watts night
100 watts (KPM360 - Shortwave)
Transmitter coordinates
28°01′14″N 82°36′34″W / 28.02056°N 82.60944°W / 28.02056; -82.60944
Translator(s)See § Translators
Repeater(s)97.9 WXTB-HD2 (Clearwater)
Links
WebcastListen Live
Websitewflanews.iheart.com

WFLA (970 AM) is a commercial radio station in Tampa, Florida, and serving the Tampa Bay media market. The station airs a talk radio format and is owned and operated by iHeartMedia, Inc. The station's studios and offices are located on Gandy Boulevard in South Tampa.[1]

Former logo with 105.9 translator.
Former logo with 105.9 translator.

WFLA broadcasts by day at 25,000 watts, reducing power to 11,000 watts at night. (For most of its history, from the 1940s to the early 2000s, it ran at 5,000 watts.) It uses a directional antenna at all times. The main transmitter site is off Montague Street in Town 'n' Country, Florida.[2] Programming is also heard on two FM translators, 94.5 MHz in Gulfport and 99.1 in Bayonet Point.

Programming

News unit with a previous logo
News unit with a previous logo

Weekdays on WFLA begin with a local morning show, AM Tampa Bay, hosted by Jack Harris, Aaron Jacobson, Katie Butchino and Natalie Aquilia.[3] From 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., The Ryan Gorman Show airs, hosted by Ryan Gorman, who used to host PM Tampa Bay.[4] The station used to also be the flagship for nationally syndicated The Schnitt Show with Todd Schnitt, but now features more nationally-syndicated Premiere Networks news opinion programs hosted by Glenn Beck, Clay Travis and Buck Sexton, Sean Hannity, and Jesse Kelly. It carries Coast to Coast AM overnight.

Weekends feature shows on money, health, law, boating and fishing. Some weekend shows are paid brokered programming. On weekends, WFLA carries Sunday Night Live with Bill Cunningham, This Morning, America's First News with Gordon Deal and Somewhere in Time with Art Bell.

WFLA provides local newscasts on both weekdays and weekends. Evening and overnight newscasts are pre-recorded. National and world news is provided by Fox News Radio and NBC News Radio. WFLA provides news coverage for other iHeartMedia stations in the Tampa Bay market, and is a hub for the Florida News Network.

WFLA occasionally serves as an overflow outlet for sports programming from sister stations WDAE and WHNZ.

History

Early years

In 1925, the station first signed on as WGHB in Clearwater.[5] By 1927, its call sign changed to WFLA and it moved from 1130 kilocycles to 590. It shared the frequency with another Tampa-area station, WSUN, before they both moved together to 620 AM in 1929, sharing time on that frequency.

WFLA and WSUN were affiliates of the NBC Red Network, carrying dramas, comedies, news, sports, soap operas, game shows and big band broadcasts during the "Golden Age of Radio."[6] From 1945 to 1949, WFLA carried a southern gospel show, which featured legendary bass singer J. D. Sumner and The Sunny South Quartet. WFLA and WSUN were owned by the Clearwater and St. Petersburg Chambers of Congress.[7]

In January 1941, WFLA moved to 940 AM, then to its present 970 AM that March, licensed to Tampa. Its partner station, WSUN, stayed on 620 kHz, licensed to St. Petersburg (now WDAE). WFLA's owner was the Tribune Company, which also owned The Tampa Tribune..[8] The studios and offices were in the Seminole Building. An advertisement in the 1950 edition of Broadcasting Yearbook said that WFLA-AM-FM were the "most listened to" stations in "the heart of Florida's most heavily populated trade area."[9]

FM and TV

WFLA added an FM station in 1948, WFLA-FM (now WFLZ). In its early years, WFLA-FM largely simulcast its AM sister station. In the 1960s, it switched to beautiful music. A TV station also went on the air in 1955, WFLA-TV, which is now owned by the Nexstar Media Group. Because WFLA-AM-FM carried NBC programming, WFLA-TV also joined the NBC Television Network.

Once network programming had shifted from radio to television, WFLA began a full service middle of the road format of popular adult music, news and sports. It later tried Top 40 and Adult Contemporary music. In the 1980s, listeners shifted to FM to hear music, so WFLA increased the news and talk programming. In 1982, WFLA hired street reporter Sam Cardinale from WPLP to make the move toward news-oriented programming. Cardinale won multiple AP and UPI awards for the station for news coverage before joining WTVT. In 1986, WFLA made the full transition to all-talk. It has been the market leader in this format ever since, and usually is among the top five stations in the market, according to Arbitron ratings.

Changes in ownership

Media General acquired the Tribune Company in the 1970s. This meant one company controlled, in Tampa, a newspaper, TV station, AM station and FM station. However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) were discouraging one owner from controlling so much media in one market. In the 1980s, federal regulations forced Media General to divest the radio stations because of its other holdings. The radio stations were sold to Blair Broadcasting in late 1982. Sconnix Communications of Charleston, South Carolina, bought WFLA and what was then WPDS from Blair Broadcasting in 1987. Blair was divesting all of its English-language broadcasting properties to concentrate on its Spanish-language TV network, Telemundo. Jacor Communications purchased WFLA from Sconnix in 1988. In 1989, the station moved from Jackson Street in downtown Tampa to its present location at 4002 W. Gandy Blvd., in south Tampa. Clear Channel Communications, purchased Jacor in 1999, which included WFLA and WFLZ. Clear Channel was the forerunner of today's iHeartMedia.

Other stations carrying the WFLA brand

Another Clear Channel radio station in Tallahassee took the call sign WFLA-FM. Its sister station in the Orlando area, WFLF (AM), uses "WFLA" as its branding. Both WFLA-FM and WFLF carries many of the same nationally syndicated programming as WFLA, but all three stations have their own local shows and news.

WFLF-FM also previously carried the WFLA brand and programming in Panama City until September 2021; since then, the WFLA brand has been carried by two FM translators in the area.

Past personalities

WFLA gave national hosts Glenn Beck and Lionel their starts in talk radio. Other prominent alumni, from the days when the station concentrated on local programming, include Bob Lassiter (d. 2006), Jay Marvin, Dick Norman (d. 1989), Chuck Harder, Jack Ellery and Freddy Mertz. Other former hosts include Al Gardner, Mark Larsen, Daniel Ruth, Mark Beiro, Paul Gonzalez and Mel Berman (d. 2010).

Over the years, AM Tampa Bay has had three female co-hosts; Sharon Taylor, who was let go after ten years, Allyson Turner, who left less than a year after she was hired, and Corey Dylan, who was promoted to her own show at sister station WMTX after four years on WFLA. Longtime news anchors and reporters Steve Hall and Sharon Parker were released in a 2019 iHeart round of layoffs.[10]

Translators

Broadcast translators of WXTB-HD2
Call sign Frequency
(MHz)
City of license Facility
ID
ERP
(W)
Height
(m (ft))
Class FCC info
W256CT 99.1 Bayonet Point, Florida 151584 250 420 m (1,380 ft) D FCC LMS
W233AV 94.5 Gulfport, Florida 146121 250 184 m (604 ft) D FCC LMS

References

  1. ^ WFLAnews.iheart.com/contact
  2. ^ Radio-Locator.com/WFLA-AM
  3. ^ "About AM Tampa Bay". WFLA News.
  4. ^ "About Ryan Gorman". RyanGorman.com.
  5. ^ RadioYears.com
  6. ^ Information from the Broadcasting Yearbook 1935 page 28
  7. ^ https://worldradiohistory.com/Archive-BC-YB/1935/1935-BCarbook[dead link]
  8. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1943 page 84
  9. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1950 page 115
  10. ^ "Staff Cuts Hit iHeartMedia News Departments | AllAccess.com". Archived from the original on 2019-04-09.