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Pasco radio goes global on Internet

The world is the potential audience for east Pasco stations WZHR-AM 1400 and WDCF-AM 1350.

By CHASE SQUIRES

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 29, 2000


DADE CITY -- World, meet Dade City.

East Pasco's hometown radio stations, WZHR-AM 1400 and WDCF-AM 1350, are taking to the Internet where people can listen anywhere in the world.

A Pasco High School Pirates fan's in China eager for Friday night football? Not a problem.

A big Zephyrhills Bulldogs fan's stranded in the desert with nothing but a phone line and a laptop computer? Not a problem.

Station owner Jeff Collins said his stations began broadcasting the simulcast morning show Paradise Sunrise Morning Matinee this month as a test at http://www.radio-kaos.com and plans to go to 24-hour broadcasting -- with a live video shot of the action at the station -- in about 30 days.

"If you've got a computer, we're on, no matter where you are," Collins said.

As a broadcaster of bay area professional teams, as well as Gators and Seminoles college football, Collins said the Internet site allows local listeners to tap into live sports broadcasts no matter where they travel. Winter visitors can follow east Pasco high school sports when they go back home, he said, and fans from high schools in west Pasco can tune in their teams on the Internet when they play at Dade City or Zephyrhills, even though the regular signal doesn't reach the coast.

The station plans to carry a variety of high school sports, not just football, on its World Wide Web broadcasts.

Collins, who has owned the local stations with his wife, Lori, for seven years, said the station is making a substantial investment in Internet technology to better serve local listeners and advertisers.

The Web site allows him to reach local residents with local information even if they work in Tampa, he said. The investment was a risk, but being the only commercial Pasco County station to go online is a gamble Collins expects will pay off.

"We've always believed in stepping out front. If you don't do something different, you're never going to step out from the crowd, you're just in the crowd," he said. "We've always prided ourselves on being different. Even if you fall on your face, at least you're moving forward."

Pasco High School girls' basketball coach John Edwards also hosts a Wednesday night sports talk show. Going from a limited broadcast area to a worldwide audience promises to be interesting, he said.

"You never know who will tune in," he said. "I have friends up in Wisconsin and Chicago, guys I went to school with, and I've already told them about it so they can tune in and hear the show."

To hook up, listeners need to have a RealPlayer or an MP3 player, such as Winamp, internet radio player. The players are free and can be located by visiting the local station's site. When everything is connected, the stations will be broadcast through the host computer's speakers.

"This is just one step in the movement toward the future, where radio and the web have come together in a common cause," Collins said. "We just felt it was a good marriage."

In its first two weeks, more than 21,000 listeners tuned in, Collins said.

Http://www.radio-kaos.com is broadcasting on the Internet from 8 a.m. to noon daily with around the clock broadcasts scheduled to begin by the end of July.

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