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Local radio brings aboard well-known voices
By SHARON GINN
Published June 23, 2006
It wasn't long ago the Tampa Bay area had too many local sports-talk radio shows - too many, because a lot of what was on the air was simply not very good.
But after popular WDAE-AM 620 host Chris Thomas died of cancer and WQYK-AM 1010 dropped its all-sports format, both in 2004, area sports-talk radio shifted dramatically in the other direction. Syndicated programs have filled much of the air time recently, with only a few well-known local voices in the mix.
The pendulum is swinging back. Both WDAE and WHBO-AM 1470 announced new locally produced shows this week, one of which will be hosted by former Bucs and Gators linebacker Scot Brantley, who will pair with Bobby Fenton on 1470 weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m. starting Monday. Brantley has been in the radio business for 16 years but has not had a daily show since WQYK's format change.
"I've been getting e-mails like crazy, thanking us for putting (Brantley) back on," WHBO general manager Brad James said.
WDAE, meanwhile, will have a locally generated nightly show for the first time in years. Tampa Bay veteran personality Scott Ledger started Tuesday in the 7-10 time slot, replacing Fox'sGametime with Craig Sherman in the lineup. Ledger, who made his mark as a rock DJ in the '80s and '90s, recently has been pregame and postgame host for the Buccaneer Radio Network.
"Scott's show is going to be "guy talk' with a sports base," WDAE program director Jon Volmar said. "You can liken it to something like 50 percent Sports Illustrated and 50 percent FHM, or maybe even "Spike TV on the radio.' He'll be talking sports but (also) other things that guys want to talk about."
That may stand in contrast to what James plans for WHBO. Not only does James want to add at least one more local program to the station's daily lineup - which until now has been entirely syndicated shows from ESPN and the Sporting News - he said he wants to ensure his station will be "family friendly." That's something that WDAE, which bills itself as "The Sports Animal," often isn't.
"There isn't any reason why a man shouldn't be able to drive around with his 10-year-old in the car and listen to sports-talk radio," said James, who said he struggled with that issue as program director at WDAE before leaving last year.
There appears to be room in this market for both approaches, as long as the stations can keep it entertaining. Volmar said WDAE's daily lineup is set, while James said more changes are to come. He plans to keep ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike in the Morning in the 6-9 slot but feels strongly that the station needs a local show in the mid mornings. That's where Thomas shined.
"You don't replace a Chris Thomas; he was one of a kind," James said.
But he promised: "We're going to do something that's as close as you can get."