BEST IMPROVEMENT IN LOCAL-BAND SUPPORT

WSUN-97X FM and WMNF-88.5 FM

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Tampa Bay commercial radio has never been consistently and ardently supportive of local original music. There have been eras and programs (like 95 YNF's "Radio Clash" in the late 1980s/early '90s, and 98Rock's metal-centric "The Pit" a bit later) instigated by various sympathetic figures within the industry over the years. But when Clear Channel really got rolling in the late '90s, corporate stations everywhere basically took a position of doing as little as they could, while still having something to point to when local musicians complained. On the other side of the coin, WMNF has always championed local music — though for years it was roots, jazz, world beat and other niche styles that benefited most often from the station's attentions. Over the past year or so, however, local "alternative rock" station 97X (owned by Cox, the second biggest player in the mass-media game) and WMNF have both made tangible and laudable efforts to increase their participation in and nurturing of homegrown tuneage. 97X now has a Sunday-night locals only show, "Local Motion," that follows its excellent "Sunday School" program with an hour of music heavy on pop, punk and modern rock, and WMNF has expanded on DJ Diane Dill-Peterson's penchant for spotlighting local music, bringing Bay area tracks into almost every slot on its schedule. Not to mention the fact that both stations are putting more locals on their big concert events than ever before, something 98Rock has done for years with regard to its annual Livestock festival. Of course, it's never going to be enough for some scenesters— you give us an inch, and we wanna be rock stars — but it's certainly progress, and props are in order.

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