WLLD-FM 94.1 Lakeland – Infinity (now CBS) Radio flipped its Tampa Bay soft A/C WISP to rhythmic CHR WLLD (WiLD 98.7) in 1998 (the first song played was Tone-Loc’s “Wild Thing”). Studios were near the Gandy/4th Street intersection in St. Petersburg with others in the company cluster, and its 50-kilowatt transmitter and tower were located off 78th Avenue (Park Boulevard) in Seminole.
Early on, WLLD’s music included a blend of R&B/Hip-Hop and Dance tracks. Today (2009) Billboard magazine considers it to be a rhythmic crossover because its playlist consists of mostly hip-hop and R&B.
WiLD 98.7 has staged its annual “The Last Damn Show” every year in late October or early November since 1999. The concert, which pulls in over 20,000 fans each year, was originally held at the St. Pete Times Forum, but was moved to the more spacious Tropicana Field. Another station-sponsored concert, “WiLDsplash” (since 2001) is held each year during spring break on Clearwater Beach and consistently pulls crowds in excess of 15,000.
At 5 P.M. on August 19, 2009, CBS swapped WLLD’s 98.7 frequency with 100,000 watt smooth jazz stablemate 94.1 WSJT, resulting in WLLD getting a huge boost in power from 50,000 to 100,000 watts and Lakeland becoming its new city of license. In a multi-station swap, WLLD was acquired by the Beasley Broadcast Group from CBS in late 2014.
Some names in WLLD history include Drew Rashbaum (conceived the idea for WiLD 98.7), Allison Barnett (a.k.a. DJ Alli That Girl/afternoons/station research director 1998), Beatta Czechowski (music director 2001; assistant PD 2004-2007), Orlando Davis (PD/morning host of “Orlando and the Freak Show” 2002), Charlie Ochs (GM 2000), Eveanne Terrett (general sales manager), Drew Mueffelman (a.k.a. DJ Rhinestone 2002), and Kristy Reif (music director).
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