Thanks to Rich Marino for putting this up. Good work, sir!
I don’t think this aired on the radio, so you had to be at the Clearwater Mall (which has since been remodeled, it’s just a bunch of stores now with no air-conditioned gathering central area) to attend this event.
The big story was Bob Lassiter’s (formerly of WFLA) return to the Tampa Bay market after a three and a half year or so absence. Neil Rogers and Randi Rhodes, two talk hosts heard on WSUN and WIOD in Miami, make the pilgrimage up to Clearwater to bolster 620’s “entertaining talk radio” lineup. Bob made his debut a few days later on February 1, 1993, lasting at WSUN a little over two and a half years before heading back to WFLA from 1996 to 1999.
Our once every two weeks look back at local and regional state history takes us back to August 24, 1992. As some of you might remember, it was not a normal day, as Hurricane Andrew (a Cat 5 hurricane that everyone thought was a Cat 4 at the time) scored a direct hit on most of Miami and Dade County that Monday morning.
I was working a 6am-noon shift at WEND and the Sun Radio Network that morning. The one thing I’ll never forget was reading the AP headlines off of the computer, amazed at the statewide weather reports. I was seeing reports of wind gusts out of Coral Gables at an amazing 162 miles per hour early in my shift.
(Outside of a small thunderstorm after I got home around 1pm that day, we didn’t get anything here from Andrew in Tampa Bay, as it was a rather small hurricane.)
I’m pretty sure Neil wasn’t on his usual schedule that day with all the news coverage WIOD (and thus WSUN here in Tampa Bay) had. I don’t think he took to the air until after noon that day, and as you’ll hear that day, he’s still on past his usual 2pm sign-off. His usual entertainment type show isn’t there this day, replaced with calls for help in the area and a more serious demeanor. Quite understandable under the circumstances.
With the 24th anniversary of Andrew passing, and threat of a tropical system in the present day that’s yet to have been realized (and I hope stays that way), that all made me think of this.
I got some positive feedback from a recent aircheck of Neil Rogers, so I thought I’d go to the well again.
It’s July 1, 1992, and Neil Rogers is now simulcasting on WSUN in Tampa. After being on in Tampa Bay for a few months, he reintroduces the area to Bob Lassiter, who left WFLA to go to Chicago and talk radio station WLS. After a disappointing experience there, Bob and his wife had moved to Davenport, Iowa.
In early 1993, it was back to the Tampa Bay area for Lassiter at WSUN, initially doing morning drive before eventually going to a 2-6 pm shift before getting booted from the station when they changed to an all-sports station. Eventually, WSUN would change call letters to WDAE, an ID uprooted from 1250 AM where they had been on the radio dial for several decades.
I simply couldn’t let the synergy of what’s going on in the radio world locally and nationally pass without commentary.
Nationally, we have seen the passing of one Richard Wagstaff Clark at the age of 82. Remember him well, ladies and gentlemen, as we will never see anyone that powerful in the radio and TV medium ever again. The businesses of each medium ensure the fact that this much power will never rest in one person’s hands ever again. As great (or as not) as Ryan Seacrest is, he won’t be doing TV when he is in his 80’s, I assure you of that.
Once the Sun Radio Network was in the rear view mirror, it was time to land another radio job. I had four stations in mind to work for, it was just a question of who would hire me, if anybody.
WFLA was the local talk giant, so I went to them first, got nowhere. WFNS Sportsradio 910 was the first all-sports radio in the market, located in eastern Tampa at the time, not too far from where the Seminole Hard Rock casino now sits. Met ex-Buccaneer Scot Brantley when I applied, thought he was a nice guy. But no cigar there.
I also looked into working for Sonny Bloch’s Independent Broadcasters Network. A lot of SRN employees had defected there, so it seemed like the perfect fit for me. Steve Wiegner, my first operations manager, held the same position there at IBN. But here was the rub: they wanted to start me as a part-time employee, and I thought it was bullshit. I had already proven myself at SRN for the same guy, so why should I go through the same rigmarole there? Didn’t make any sense, and I smelt a rat. So, I passed.