WSUN-FM is a commercial alternative rock music radio station in Tampa, Florida, broadcasting on 97.1 FM. Owned by Cox Radio, its studios are located in St. Petersburg, and the transmitter site is in Holiday (the station's city of license).
The station signed on September 1, 1978 on the 106.3 FM frequency as WHBS, a station that served primarily Pasco and northern Pinellas Counties. The station later became WVTY, then WLVU, carrying an easy listening format. In 1998, the station would relocate to 97.1 FM (swapping frequencies with Citrus County's WXOF), to better reach the Tampa Bay market. Soon afterward, Cox Radio would acquire WLVU in a swap (see below), and transfer its WSUN calls to FM, adopting an oldies format as "Oldies 97.1".
Mired with a subpar signal and being one of two Oldies stations in the market (WYUU was the other) did not allow WSUN to take off in the Tampa Bay area. While rumors of Cox flipping the station to All-80’s ran rampant, the station began stunting with music from 2001: A Space Odyssey. At 5:00 p.m. on November 3, 2000, the Tampa Bay area got its first taste of an alternative rock formatted station in many years with the debut of 97X. The first song, "Hemorrhage" by Fuel was dedicated to Modern Adult Contemporary WSSR and Active Rocker WXTB, both of whom are owned by competitor Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia).
On January 18, 2013, the station relaunched itself with a listener-controlled format. The final song under the first "97X" era was the song they launched with, "Hemorrhage" by Fuel, and began stunting with a ticking-clock effect at 10 AM. At 5 PM, the station relaunched in its current incarnation with "Best Of You" by Foo Fighters . With this new direction, the audience controls every song that plays using special technology designed by LDR/Listener Driven Radio . LDR created a special app and website for 97X that allows listeners to take over the music live. In addition to the music voting features, the mobile app offers several other interactive elements. It allows listeners to record audio and send it directly to the station for broadcasting, sign-up for instant SMS, email, and Twitter alerts when their favorite songs are about to play, and share votes on social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. 97X listeners can also earn social media ‘badges’ by interacting with the station. In mid-2014, the listener voting feature was scaled back, now only allowing users to vote on select new/current songs (instead of the entire playlist, as before), the results of which are featured on daily "countdown" shows. The live voting feature is still occasionally employed during 'After-Concert Takeovers", where listeners can vote on the order of songs from one or several artists who appeared in concert locally earlier, and during a Sunday night show featuring local artists.
In September 2014, iHeartMedia launched a local competitor to 97X, branded "ALT 99.9" on WFUS-HD2, and relayed by 99.9Mhz FM translator W207BU, located in Bayonet Point, Florida. (The translator has since moved to 100.3 FM, now W262CP, and the station rebranded as "ALT 100.3").
The call letters
The "WSUN" calls have been used in the St. Petersburg area since 1927, when WSUN signed on, then a time-share with WFLA. The station moved to its longtime 620 kHz frequency in 1929, and got the frequency all to itself in 1941, when WFLA moved to 940 kHz (then to 970 shortly afterward). From the 1960s into the 1980s, WSUN was known as a leading country formatted station, benefiting from its signal that covered all of Florida's Gulf Coast by day and reached into Texas by night.
Owned by the city of St. Petersburg throughout most of its early life, the city sold WSUN radio and its television counterpart, WSUN-TV, to Hy Levinson, a Detroit broadcaster and owner of that city's WCAR radio. In 1970, WSUN-TV would go dark, while WSUN radio and its then-sister, WQXM-FM, would be sold to the broadcasting arm of pharmaceutical company Plough, Inc.. In the mid-1980s, Plough would later sell WSUN and WQXM separately, with WSUN being sold to Taft Broadcasting, then-owner of WTSP television and WYNF-FM.
In the late-1980s, WSUN flipped to all-news, following its purchase by CBS Radio from Taft. It then later flipped to a news-talk format, which remained after its purchase from Cox Broadcasting in the 1990s. In 1998 Cox swapped its 620 AM signal for the 97.1 signal owned by the Concord Broadcasting Group, whose easy-listening station, WLVU-FM, moved from 106.3 to 97.1 shortly before the swap. After the move to FM, WSUN adopted an oldies format as "Oldies 97.1", while Concord changed 620's calls to "WSAA", becoming a simulcast of Bay News 9. (It would later be sold to Clear Channel Communications, becoming the new frequency for WDAE.)
- The Next Big Thing concert series, formerly at Coachman Park in Clearwater, Florida, was held at the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre until 2012 when the venue was changed for a third time to Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg, Florida. Next Big Thing '12 was held December 1, 2012 with bands performing such as Bush, Rise Against, FUN., Silversun Pickups and a mystery head liner, announced October 24, 2012.
- Danielle - Mornings
- Joel - Middays
- Erika - Afternoon
- Griffin - Nights
- Cory - Weekends
- Rich Fields, the current announcer for CBS's The Price Is Right and Gameshow Marathon, was a DJ at WSUN-FM during its oldies format period.
- Napoleon - The first version of the morning show was Fisher and Napoleon.
- Crissy - The original night jock (7p-12a).
- Pat Largo - The original morning drive jock (10a-3p). Also the first host of Local Motion.
- Ford Prefect - Did a few weekend shifts, but best known for hosting Sunday School (old school alternative) on Sunday nights.
- Professor Brian- Hosted Sunday School with Ford Prefect
- Jimmy - Original part-timer. Did weekends, over-nights, and fill-shifts. Also hosted Local Motion with Tre.
- Kate - Was the on and off night jock after Crissy left.
- Tre - Weekends, Fill-shifts, and co-hosted Local Motion with Jimmy.
- Phoebe - Nights & Middays | Currently midday host and music director for
- Jesse Kage - Kage Kult Show (7p - 12a) |
- Seth Kushner - The Morning X | Currently Executive Producer of Drew Garabo Live on
- Fisher - The Morning X
- Drew Garabo - The Morning X | Currently afternoon host of Drew Garabo Live on
- Geo - Nights | Currently producer and co-host of Drew Garabo Live on
- Shark - Program Director | Afternoons | Middays
97X Green Room
The 97X Green Room is an annual series of compilation albums of live music recorded for WSUN-FM's Green Room series. All albums contain acoustic versions of popular songs from artists heard on the station. It was released for sale primarily at Tampa Bay area Best Buy locations, although later volumes were made available at other locations. Proceeds from the first album's sales benefited Audubon of Florida's Coastal Islands Sanctuaries Program. For subsequent albums, proceeds from the sales benefit The Nature Conservancy. The albums' goal is to provide exclusive acoustic performances and to help raise money and awareness to the needs of environment in Florida.
The latest installment in the series, Volume 7, released on September 8, 2011, includes performances by Foster the People, A Day to Remember, Silversun Pickups, Manchester Orchestra, Matt Schultz from Cage the Elephant, Sick Puppies, Young the Giant, The Joy Formidable and Grouplove.