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WSMR - A History

WSMR-FM 89.1 Sarasota – WSMR, initially licensed by Northwestern College of Roseville, Minnesota in 1991 as WAYG, adopted the WSMR calls in 1996. The 50,000-watt non-commercial educational FM took a contemporary Christian format and promoted itself as Life 89.1. Studios were in downtown Sarasota’s Chase Bank building at 240 North Washington Boulevard (corner U.S. 301 and Fruitville Road), and a transmitter site located east of Venice, off E. Venice Avenue. In 2004, an FM translator, licensed to Brandon on 103.9, was added to cover north Tampa and Pasco County.

Since the station was never fully self-supporting in the market and each year relied on other Northwestern stations to cover any deficits, WSMR’s license and translator were sold to WUSF Public Media for $1.275 million in the summer of 2010. On August 4th Life 89.1 left the air, expecting to return on September 15th with a full time classical music format, a power boost to 55,000 watts, and new studios on the University of South Florida Sarasota/Manatee campus. However, due to technical problems, the launch date was delayed.

WSMR returned to the air on October 22nd, albeit on low power, while work continued to upgrade its transmitter, antenna and other equipment. Engineers were finally able to take the station to full power on February 22, 2011, more than five months later than originally planned, although power output was brought down to 54,000 watts.

Another change involved the city of license for WSMR’s translator on 103.9, which switched to Tampa after it was relocated to the USF main campus. Its power output was also granted a boost – from 99 watts to 250 watts.  

Names in WSMR history include Douglas Poll (GM/mornings -1996; GM), Lee Miller (mornings-1999, then afternoons), Sharlene Rock (1999), Sandy James (afternoons-2000), Heidi Thomas (2002), Brian Best (weekends-2002), David Karnes (2003), Dave Ryan (mornings-2007), Dan Young (afternoons-2007), Brian Christopher (PD-2008), Laura Chase (mornings/promotions director-2008), Brian Nichols, JoAnn Urofsky (GM/WUSF Public Media-2010), Sheila Rue (PD-2010), Russell Gant (mornings/music director -2010), Bethany Cagle (mid-mornings-2010), and Colleen Cook (afternoons-2010).

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Station History

1996 - 2011 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (History)

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