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WTMP AM & FM - A History

WTMP-AM 1150 Tampa & WTMP-FM 96.1 Dade City – Tampa’s longtime heritage urban adult contemporary station began in 1954 as rhythm & blues station WIOK, owned by Cal Young, a white Nashville broadcaster. In 1956, Atlanta-based Rounsaville Radio (Robert W. Rounsaville, president) acquired the 5-kilowatt daytimer and the calls switched to WTMP (TaMPa) shortly thereafter. When the company bought WDAE in 1964, WTMP was spun off to Speidel Broadcasting (Joe Speidel III, president) of Columbia, SC due to FCC rules at the time that allowed for a company to own only one AM per market.

Since 1972, WTMP has been minority-owned. Its first black owner was WTMP, Inc. (Tampa native Rudolph A. McLeod, president). Other minority owners have included Westerville Broadcasting of Florida (Paul Major, president/GM) in 1983, Broadcast Capital (which bought the station at auction in 1992 for $670,000), and DMPG Broadcasting Group (a joint venture of former Tampa Bay Bucs players Derrick “Ricky” Reynolds,  Mark Carrier, and Patrick Franklin who paid $700,000 for it in 1993). The FCC yanked that license after discovering Franklin had pleaded guilty earlier to serious drug charges.

Tama Broadcasting (Glenn Cherry (president/GM), which owned other radio properties in Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, Savannah, GA, and Greenville, SC, as well as two weekly newspapers in Daytona Beach and Ft. Pierce, bought the station in 1997 from Blackstar Communications. It acquired Dade City’s 96.1 WMGG-FM in 2001 and changed it to WTMP-FM, first programming hip hop/urban and then jammin’ oldies. But because of its rimshot signal, those formats didn’t work well and, in 2004, it began a simulcast of the AM.

In the 1980’s, Temple Terrace became WTMP-AM’s city of license, and it was allowed to begin broadcasting at night with 2,500 watts. Today (2017), it is licensed to Egypt Lake and broadcasts from a three-tower array off Cavalcade Drive in Tampa with 10,000 watts days and 500 watts nights. The FM powers 2,800 watts from its transmitter site off Hickory Hill Road, east of Spring Lake Highway, about mid-way between Dade City and Brooksville. 

WTMP became the center of a complex and heated legal battle in 2007 when difficulties repaying a $20-million loan from a New York hedge fund led the Florida-based Cherry brothers to lose control of their nine radio stations, including the Tampa station. The following year, the hedge fund appointed Texas-based Scott Savage as a receiver in control of WTMP’s broadcast license. That same year, offices and studios for both stations moved from 5207 Washington Boulevard to 407 N. Howard Avenue, across from Ft. Homer Hesterly Armory.

WTMP's 57-year tradition as the voice of Tampa's black community ended September 2, 2011 when Davidson Media Group took over the stations from Tama, who had filed for bankruptcy and placed its license in court-ordered receivership with Scott Savage, Receiver. Davidson, with 32 stations in 12 markets, flipped them to a Spanish format as La Bahia (“The Bay”). West Coast Media Group announced on April 29, 2014 that it would begin operating WTMP under a local marketing agreement and return AM programming to classic r&b and the audience it had served for 57 years. WTMP-FM would retain a regional Mexican format.

In early February 2017, NIA Broaadcasting, led by Neal Ardman, entered into a Time Brokerage Agreement and asset purchase agreement with Savage for the license of both WTMP stations. 

WTMP-AM switched from classic hip-hop to an urban oldies format (primarily from the 70's-90's, with a little bit of 60's every now and then) in late February 2018, and dropped all mention of classic hip-hop, calling themselves Tampa's Heritage Station.

In April 2021, Nia Broadcasting announced it was preparing WTMP-AM to be its second outlet in Tampa Bay radio to go all digital.

Other names in WTMP history include Tampa R&B singer King Coleman (1957), Jack Everbach (GM-1960), Harold F. Walker (nat’l sales-1960), John Fulton (local sales-1960), Joyce Monroe (nat’l PD-1960), George Corwin (promotions-1960), Howard Clark (news director-1960), Warren Kauffman (chief engineer-1960), Charles Acton (station manager-1961; sales manager-1964; GM-1969), “Tiger” Tom Hankerson (news director-1961), Ralph B. Johnson (nat’l sales-1963), Eugene Danzey (sales-1963; GM/1970), M.E. “Doc” Fidler (GM-1964), Bob Terry (news directort-1964), Gil Lamar (promotions-1964; PD-1968), Peggy Henderson (sales manager-1968), Tal Forrest (news director-1968), Jim Derrick (chief engineer-1968), Tracy Collins (PD/promotions-1969), Booker “T” Jerry (news director-1969), John Pheil (chief engineer-1969), Jim Murray (news director-1971; music director-1973), Peggy Lewis (sales manager-1972), Calvin G. Shepherd (news director-1972), Henry Crump (PD-1973), Thomas W. Reesor (chief engineer-1973), Jess Peters (sales manager-1979), Jim Rhinehart (PD/music director-1979), Ken Rand (chief engineer-1979), Constance Miller (Connie Rogers, late 70's-early 80's), David M. Wilson (David Michaels, PD-1982), Graham Armstrong (PD-music director), Tony (TJ) Stone, Debbie Parker, Reggie Fine (afternoons-1982), William Reed (sales manager-1986), Roosevelt Moore (music director-1986), Glen Bell (chief engineer-1986), Don Cody (PD-1995), Stacy Powers (news director-1995), Lawrence Hires (promotions-1995), Larry Steele (PD & afternoons-2001), Brian Castle (PD-2002), Chris McMurray (station manager-2008), Jerry Walker (Andrew Manning/PD/mornings), Louis Muhammed (operations manger), Big $$$ Ced (music director/APD), “Cheeko” Adams, George Nix, Charles Johnson, MC Holmes (Brian Holmes), Nikki Nicole, Terry Hill, Jay Moore, and Eriq Storm.

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Station History

1956 - 2021 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (History)

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