News radio on the AM side of the dial has been long dominated by loud and angry talk. Knowing Tampa Bay residents spend a substantial amount of time in their cars, the station owners of WBBA 820AM saw an opportunity to give radio listeners something needed, desired and different: all news, all day in a straightforward and nonpartisan delivery.
The result: AM 820 News. Currently in the midst of launch, several programming and outreach components are in place, while others are continuing to roll out over the coming weeks. Audience response has been extremely positive. Per Arbitron, between June-August the station’s market share of listeners 18+ increased 67% and its cumulative listenership is up 31%.
AM 820 News offers a constant stream of local stories, traffic, and weather, along with news-you-can-use and national headlines. A joint content agreement with WTSP-TV (CBS-10) will include local forecasts, local updates, and simulcasts of 10 News broadcasts. AM 820 News has a 50,000-watt transmitter that covers most of central Florida, keeping traveling locals in the loop on hometown news.
In support of the station’s launch campaign, Tampa-based branding and marketing agency was called upon to Schifino Lee create the new branding, logos, print ads, digital billboards, and social media. Outdoor billboards began appearing last week all around the Tampa Bay area, and print ads are schedule to run in the 4th Quarter. Meanwhile, social media including Facebook and Twitter is already starting to ramp up.
Beyond consumers, a key target audience for the AM 820 News marketing campaign in this early stage is advertisers. Schifino Lee was selected partly because of its knowledge of what media advertisers want, gained from its long experience in national and local media buying. As part of its partnership with AM 820 News, Schifino Lee will also create and run its own ads on the station which is, ironically, a unique and unconventional practice for advertising agencies. Agency Principal Ben Lee said, “We are convinced the editorial environment of all-news is a smart place to advertise.”
AM 820 News is owned by Genesis Communications, which also owns five other stations in central Florida including 1040AM Tampa Bay, an ESPN station. “Our challenge for AM 820 News is to change people’s perception of AM radio and let them know that there’s a new and different option for those who desire news without all the partisan talk,” said Bruce Maduri, president of Genesis Communications. “When you gotta know now, we hope people tune into AM 820 News.”