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Bubba The Love Sponge Announces Bubba 98.7 Launch

Bubba Love Sponge 98.7 WBRN WHFS-FM Tampa Hog Power Pig98.7 WHFS-FM will become “Bubba 98.7” WBRN-FM at 10am today.

In discussing the new format of the station, Bubba The Love Sponge explained on his show that it will be a personality based Rock leaning Variety Hits station focusing on music that he likes positioned as “No Rules Radio”. Bubba 98.7 will feature a 700-1000 song playlist with a “non-corporate sound”. Following his morning show the station will air two hours of commercial free music from 10am to 12pm. Bubba’s morning co-hosts Manson, character Ned, and 25 Cent will follow in the 12-3pm, 3-7pm, and 7pm-12am dayparts respectively. Bubba’s morning show will repeat from 12-4am.

The core playlist will feature artists such as AC/DC, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Led Zeppelin, Stone Temple Pilots, Linkin Park, Green Day & Foo Fighters. There will also be Bubba chosen selections from the likes of Eminem, Notorious B.I.G., Dr DRE, Jerry Reed, Public Enemy, C.W. McCall, and LL Cool J.

Carl Harris will serve as official Program Director. Dom Theodore, VP/Programming of Glenn Beck’s Blaze Radio Network and former PD of WFLZ Tampa and WNOW-FM New York among others is consulting the new “Bubba 98.7“.

Beasley Media Group Tampa-St. Petersburg has introduced a new format on 98.7 WHFS-FM. Named Bubba 98/7, No Rules Radio, the announcement was made by Bubba The Love Sponge this morning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. The station’s website is Bubba987.com and, pending formal FCC approval, the station’s new call letters will be WBRN-FM. Carl Harris serves as the station’s program director.

In addition to Bubba the Love Sponge’s morning show content, which is heard weekdays, 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., the station will include artists such as AC/DC, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Led Zeppelin, Stone Temple Pilots, Linkin Park, Green Day & Foo Fighters. Also, the format includes songs chosen by Bubba himself which range from artists like Eminem, Notorious B.I.G., Dr DRE, Jerry Reed, Public Enemy, C.W. McCall, LL Cool J and many others. Additionally, Bubba 98/7, No Rules Radio features parody bits from the legendary Bubba The Love Sponge archives.

Executive Vice President of Operations Brian Beasley comments, “Beasley has entered new territory with today’s announcement. The music, personalities and bits will all be the creative responsibility of the station’s morning show host, Bubba the Love Sponge. We hope the listeners will be thoroughly entertained by the new direction of the station.”

Update 1/30: Beasley has filed a request for new WBRN-FM call letters for WHFS-FM. Perhaps standing for “Bubba Radio Network“?

Additionally AllAccess reports that Bubba is utilizing Power Pig style tactics to antagonize Cox. Bubba has offered a $15 million ransom to stay off the air for two years stating that is the amount of revenue that WHPT and WXGL currently bill in that time frame.

Bubba anticipates the new format launch to play out like the launch of The Power Pig against “Q105” in 1989 with the fight between “the big egos, with the stale format, and all the money vs. the little guy.”

Update 1/29: 98.7 WHFS-FM will reveal its new format on Monday, February 2 at 9:00am.

Morning host Bubba The Love Sponge, who has stated he has a right of first refusal in developing the format that will accompany his morning show will make the announcement during his program. Bubba has dropped hints that it will be a music format that’s “Gonna take The Bone down 80% and the The Eagle down 50%”. That would be in reference to Cox’ Hot Talk “102.5 The Bone” WHPT and Classic Rock “107.3 The Eagle” WXGL.

Beasley hasn’t registered any additional domains for the station. Bubba987.com and 987Bubba.com were registered by the company in October. An anonymous registration for 987TheHog.com was made earlier this month. The Hog is one of the sample formats that Beasley has allowed listeners to vote on. Twitter accounts for @Bubba_987 and @987TheHogFM have popped up in recent days.

INSTANT INSIGHT: Based on the dropped hints and the demographics in play, we’d expect some form of personality based Classic Rock that would attack WXGL and WHPT, while protecting sister Classic Hits “Q105” 104.7 WRBQ. The end result will likely be an 80s/90s based Rock station that will also take some listeners away from iHeartMedia’s Active Rock “98 Rock” WXTB and Classic Rock “Thunder 94.5/105.9” WMTX-HD2.

Update 1/5: “The Big Announcement” being hyped as part of “The New 98.7” stunting since December 4th was simply the long expected debut of Bubba The Love Sponge.

For the next month the station will loop the Bubba The Love Sponge show around the clock while building the permanent format.

Bubba stated on-air that more information will be revealed at a 9:15am press conference that will be carried on his show, but hinted that the show could be moved to another frequency after the final plans set for the show and station are set.

Update 12/26: With Christmas passing, but still ten days until “The New 98.7” WHFS Holmes Beach/Tampa debuts its new format on January 5, the station has transitioned its stunting to a broad mix of pop music.

The station’s website features a poll of supposed potential formats and samples for listeners to vote on.

Original Report 12/4: Beasley Broadcasting has not waited long to make its first move at its newly acquired Tampa cluster.

At 3pm today, Sports “98.7 The Fan” WHFS-FM Holmes Beach dropped its format for Christmas Music. The station is teasing a “Big Announcement” for Monday, January 5, 2015.

That happens to be the day that Bubba The Love Sponge’s non-compete with Cox comes to an end and he can return to the Tampa market. As we reported in October, 987Bubba.com and Bubba987.com were registered anonymously by Beasley’s usual domain registrar.

CBS launched the Sports format on 98.7 in August 2012, but it failed to gain any momentum in the market. In the November 2014 Nielsen Audio PPM Ratings the station garnered a mere 0.7 share of the Tampa audience. The entire on-air staff was dismissed this morning prior to the flip.

Profile photo of Lance Venta
Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

9 Comments

  1. Profile photo of shodges


    To dismiss all those people right around the holidays, terrible absolutely terrible

    • Profile photo of cowhead


      Kinda like Cox did a few years right before Xmas back when they got rid of all the talent and went with the app and “music hosts” and the listener’s requests got to pick which songs got played. See how long that lasted and they’re back to spinning the same 40 songs over and over with some hard suffering “hosts” for minimum wage.

      • Profile photo of Obtuse


        If you a referencing 97X, the 2013 relaunch happened after the holidays (January 18th, 2013), and most (if not all) of the talent either stayed at WSUN, or went to other parts of the Cox cluster. (Danielle and Joel stayed on at 97X, Drew went to WHPT, Seth is at Hot 101.5, etc).

        Too bad (as far as we know) the Fan folks weren’t given the opportunity to stay on with the new format.

  2. Profile photo of maytableinc


    Any word on 1010 AM? Are they simulcasting broadcasts with 98.7?

    • Profile photo of Lance Venta


      1010 continues for now with the national CBS Sports Radio network programming it has aired since the network’s launch.

  3. Profile photo of Christian


    With Bubba in the mornings, I wouldn’t be surprised if 98.7 goes to some kind of (manly) rock format

  4. Profile photo of lou pickney


    I’m guessing that the new calls will have an -FM suffix since there is a station in Michigan that has used them on the AM dial for many years.

  5. Profile photo of Beachguy


    After reading what is in store, I feel secure in that I no longer need to sample 98.7 to see what they do. Sounds horrible.

    • Profile photo of ksradiogeek


      Why terrible? Because it sounds different? Not “cookie cutter” enough?

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