In 2010, WUSF made a critical shift in its broadcasting platform. The local NPR affiliated broadcasting station transitioned into a new focus on providing the Tampa Bay area with broadcasts associated more with the National Public Radio community. On August 5th, 2010, journalist Eric Deggans constructed an article detailing the transition that was published in The St. Petersburg Times. This marked a milestone for the WUSF broadcasting community that allowed for a growth in WUSF’s ability to further extend the station’s notoriety in addition to acquiring a wider spectrum of listeners across West Central Florida. The transition began on September 15th, 2010, under current WUSF General Manager JoAnn Urofsky. Ms. Urofsky saw the investment as a critical step in the station’s future and hoped to increase the general audience to over 500,000 new listeners with a broadcasting range covering Tampa, St. Petersburg and the Sarasota-Bradenton area. This broadcasting range allows WUSF-FM to reach a broader audience with a focus on locally constructed news stories alongside NPR’s nationally scheduled programs, which are acquired through subscriptions to NPR, American Public Media, and Public Radio International. The University of South Florida offered a $1.28 million loan to WUSF for the station to purchase the WSMR channel while adding additional programs to WUSF’s daily broadcastings. This loan also assisted in funding WSMR’s fulltime broadcasting services in Sarasota. The addition of previously unavailable national programs helped WUSF-FM generate the wider audience Ms. Urofsky intended to obtain. These programs consisted of Fresh Air, Tell Me More, The Diane Rehm Show, and Talk of the Nation. Although some of these programs no longer exist, Fresh Air and The Diane Rehm Show continue to be included on WUSF’s local radio broadcasts today. The addition of these new NPR programs has generated additional traffic for WUSF’s and WSMR’s radio broadcasts and websites. As a result of WUSF-FM’s transitional focus to NPR, WSMR found a new broadcasting station on 89.1 MHz, although the broadcasting frequency was difficult to acquire. Listeners in Northern Hillsborough, Pasco, and Polk counties failed to transmit the new broadcasting frequency for WSMR. Instead, WSMR’s broadcasting range reached parts of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte counties. Ms. Urofsky stated, “We don’t want to leave anybody in the lurch,” and added that WUSF planned to utilize technology to help boost WSMR’s signal across West Central Florida. Today, the signal still struggles to reach neighboring counties, but the classical programs are available online and on WUSF’s HD radio channel. Ms. Urofsky planned to obtain additional contributions from West Central Florida’s communities, recognizing the potential for WUSF to acquire funding for WUSF-FM thanks to the station’s broader footprint. In addition, WUSF planned to use the additional contributions from the communities to help the additional programs on WUSF-FM and the funding of WSMR. WUSF has managed to acquire additional contributions thanks to WUSF’s and WSMR’s widened footprint in West Central Florida. Today, both stations continue to produce local content for the Tampa Bay community, while WUSF also provides programs from NPR broadcasting as well.
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