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WTUN - A History

WTUN-FM 88.9 Tampa – The University of Tampa’s University Broadcasting Service was organized in the fall of 1946. Its first broadcast, October 8th of that year over Tampa’s WDAE-AM 1250, was the beginning of a series of weekly programs which ran on the station for three and a half years. Shortly after they began, UBS inaugurated a series of programs over WFLA-AM 970 which included news and sports, and public service programs for organizations like the Florida Council for the Blind, the Hillsborough County Tuberculosis Association, the Boy Scouts of America, the American Red Cross, and others. One of the programs, “Spartan Sports,” featured many nationally-known sports figures, including Lou Boudreau of the Red Sox and Ben Chapman, then manager of the Tampa Smokers.

In 1951, WFLA and its owner, the Tribune Company, offered to build and equip a complete studio for UBS at the University. The next year, WFLA donated the equipment and Paul Smith Construction handled the actual building of the studios. Then on Christmas Day 1952, the University of Tampa’s 1,000 watt WTUN (Tampa UNiversity), went on the air at 105.7 FM from second floor studios in Plant Hall on campus, the first area of the university to be air conditioned. The station would change frequency in August 1953 to 88.9 and remain there for the rest of the time it was on the air. At the time, WTUN was Florida’s most powerful educational station.

Programming began with a schedule of more than thirty different weekly shows. First staff members of the new WTUN-FM were Prof. Roy McGillivray (head of the university’s speech department and director of radio) and student staffers Rob Hancock (station manager who would go on to WFLA as an announcer and engineer), Chuck Stockford (PD), Jack Breidt (production director and later station manager. He would go on to become properties manager for WFLA-TV), Mac Lee (chief engineer and later, station manager. He would also work at WDAE), Don Olsen (chief announcer and later an announcer and engineer at WDAE), Jayne Anderson (women’s programs), Joyce Newell, Cynthia Rogers, Jerry Scaglione, Ed Hutson (Spartan football play-by-play), Danny Shea, Bobby Lord (later host of his own show on WSUN-TV and future country music star), Paul Samuels, and John Mattox. 

As a member of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters, programs broadcast on WTUN were of an educational and cultural nature and included music, drama and special events, such as talks, concerts and recitals. The station was operated by university students under the supervision of the university’s radio department. Its student staff learned the craft and art of broadcasting and its many related fields while providing the listening audience with entertainment and information.

In addition to programs already mentioned, WTUN’s broadcast schedule also included live broadcasts of the University of Tampa “Spartan” football games from Tampa’s Phillips Field and locally-produced radio dramas, which were later exchanged with other college stations across the country. Some of the most popular were the ones based on Edgar Allen Poe’s stories. The station also had a weekly program, “Basic German,” that was broadcast entirely in the German language. It featured news, music, and history and was narrated by Jack Morin and Edward Van Gelder. Another featured an Irish leprechaun reading tales for children.

When it became necessary to replace station equipment in 1962 and the $8,000 needed could not be raised, WTUN-FM ceased operations. That November, WTUN began operation on the AM band. Headed by station manager Mike Moore, it utilized a system called carrier current broadcasting or wired wireless radio, a setup then being used by Purdue University. The new UT station, available only on campus, was on the air from 4:00 P.M. to midnight operating on 580-AM. In 1976, another incarnation of WTUN began operating (available only on campus) on 650-AM from second floor studios in the student union building featuring progressive rock music as well as campus news and happenings. Today (2008), the UT student-run (and available-only-on-campus) station is WUTT on 1080-AM. Staffed by a class and group of volunteers, it programs a variety of music, including reggae, soca (soul calypso), r&b, hip-hop, and heavy metal.

Other staffers from WTUN-FM’s brief history include: Gordon Solie (station manager who went on to fame as a TV wrestling commentator), Prof. Frank A. Moody (chairman of UT’s speech department and an early WTUN supervisor), Dick Crippen (sportscaster for WLCY-TV Channel 10 and WFLA-TV Channel 8), Gerald “Jerry” Krumbholtz (sportscaster-1956 and later the “voice” of WTVT Channel 13), Bryan Webb (station manager-1954-55), Jerry Scaglione (PD-1954-55), Al Berry (chief engineer-1955, and later owner and manager of WPLA in Plant City), Jack Carew (PD and sports director 1954-55), Nancy Trusdale (traffic manager-1955), Ann Aulick (music librarian-1955), Jean Morris (host of “Feminine,” a fashion show in 1956-57. She later worked for WFLA AM/TV), Howard Sinsley (1956-57), Charlie Strickland (later with WPKM), Jim Gallagher (sports editor who later worked for WDAE and WINQ), Ed Connolly (1957), Prof. Ernest Vincent (head of the radio department-1957), Vince Tata (1957-58), Ed Van Gelder (1957-58), Bill Barkhimer (1957-58), Bernadine Becker (continuity 1957-58), Joe Cannon (sports 1957-58), Joe Pendergast (1957-58), Don Bernardo (1957-58), Burt Mitchell (later with WPKM), Bernie McGovern (PD-1958), Lee Keunzi (1958), Dick Follweiler (opera show host-1958), Bob Currie (chief announcer/news-1958), Nan DavisThom Spettel (chief engineer and classical music co-coordinator 1958-1960), Tuttle Walker (later with WONN in Lakeland), Weyman Hudgins (1958), Dan Howes (1958), Gerald R. Herms (station manager-1958), Ed Bray (later with WFLA. He also hosted a Saturday afternoon teen dance show on WFLA-TV), Pete York, Jack HigginsDave Manley (went to work for WFLA-TV), John J. von Szeliski (UT director of radio-1960), Joanna Nichols (PD-1960), Joe Schreiber (student station manager), Roy Weissinger (chief announcer), Vincent Cackowski (traffic/continuity manager-1960), Maeve Haughey (traffic/continuity assistant-1960), Dr. Stephen Speronis (later with WFLA-TV), Charlie Hampton (later with WTVT), Pat Harris (went on to work in traffic at WTVT), Al Waters (later with WALT, WINQ, WHBO and WYOU), and George Bollinger.


(Special thanks to Art Bagley, Reference/Collection Management Librarian at the University of Tampa’s Macdonald-Kelce Library for his assistance in the preparation of this history of WTUN-FM.)

 

Station History

1952 - 1962 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (History)

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