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Radio sticks with disaster


© St. Petersburg Times, published September 12, 2001

Those who didn't have access to a television heard the news of the World Trade Center attack on radio.

Those who didn't have access to a television heard the news of the World Trade Center attack on radio.

The area's morning show personalities stayed on the air throughout the day discussing the incident and many stations simulcast local and national TV broadcasts.

MJ Kelli, who hosts the morning show on WFLZ-FM 93.3, was still on the air past 6 p.m. Tuesday. His broadcast day began at 6 a.m. And Kelli wasn't alone; numerous personalities stayed on the air long past their usual shifts. Some of them took a break and returned to the air later in the day.

"Within two minutes of the story breaking we had it on almost all of our stations," said Dave Reinhart, vice president and market manager of Tampa's eight Clear Channel stations including WFLZ, WXTB-FM 97.9 (98 Rock) and WMTX-FM 100.7 (Mix). Most of those outlets were also commercial free from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Even the area's two all-sports radio stations, WDAE-AM 620 and WQYK-AM 1010, dropped their usual programming and discussed the attack.

Some of the Cox Radio stations didn't go wall to wall with news coverage until 11 a.m., a move that surprised competitors.

"There's no manual on how to handle this," said Howard Tuuri, general manager of Cox-owned WDUV-FM 105.5 (The Dove), WWRM-FM 94.9 (Magic) and WFJO-FM 101.5 (Jammin' Hits). "We're trying to make prudent decisions as we go forward."

The area's six Cox stations simulcast the broadcast of WTVT-Ch. 13. Feed from cable news station Bay News 9, which has a weather presence on numerous stations, was used by both WTAN-AM 1340 and WRBQ-FM 104.7 (Q105).

WYUU-FM 92.5 morning personality Mason Dixon stayed on the air until 3 p.m. Music was back on the air at sister stations WLLD-FM 98.7 (Wild) and WSJT-FM 94.1 by 3:30 p.m., but by Tuesday evening, those stations broke in with TV broadcast feeds and talk from station personalities.

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