|City||St. Petersburg, Florida|
|Broadcast area||Tampa Bay Area|
|Branding||Sports Radio 620 WDAE|
|Slogan||"Tampa Bay's Sports Radio"|
|Frequency||620 kHz (also on HD Radio)|
|Translator(s)||95.3 W237CW (Pinellas Park)|
|First air date||May 15, 1922|
|Power||5,600 watts (day)
5,500 watts (night)
STA 11,280 watts (day)
STA 11,000 watts (night)
250 watts (translator)
(Clear Channel Broadcasting Licenses, Inc.)
|Sister stations||WBTP, WFLA, WFLZ-FM, WFUS, WHNZ, WMTX, WXTB|
WDAE (620 kHz, "Sports Radio 620 WDAE") is a commercial AM radio station licensed to St. Petersburg, Florida and serving the Tampa Bay area. It is owned by iHeartMedia, Inc. and airs a sports radio format. WDAE is one of the oldest radio stations in Florida still broadcasting today, going on the air in 1922. The studios and offices are located on West Gandy Boulevard in South Tampa. The transmitter is located near Gandy Bridge in St. Petersburg.
WDAE is licensed to broadcast at 5,600 watts by day and 5,500 watts at night. But because AM 620 suffers interference from Cuban stations, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given WDAE special temporary authority for higher power: 11,280 watts daytime and 11,000 watts nighttime. It uses a directional antenna at night. WDAE broadcasts using the iBiquity HD radio system during daytime hours. Programming is simulcast on FM translator W237CW at 95.3 MHz, licensed to nearby Pinellas Park.
Mornings, nights and weekends, WDAE airs syndicated sports programming from ESPN Radio. Three local shows are heard on weekdays: Ronnie Lane and Tom Krasniqi - "The Ronnie and Tkras Show" in late mornings, Ron Diaz and JP Peterson - "The Ron & JP Show" in early afternoons and Steve Duemig during late afternoon drive time. On Saturday mornings, the station features Pat Donovan and Aaron Jacobson. Some programming from Fox Sports Radio is also heard on the station, although sister station 1250 AM WHNZ is the primary Fox Sports Network affiliate in Tampa Bay.
WDAE AM 1250 History
On May 15, 1922, WDAE first signed on at 833 kilocycles, as the radio outlet of the Tampa Times, an afternoon daily newspaper. WDAE was one of the earliest radio stations in Florida, according to FCC records. WQAM in Miami takes credit as being first, going on the air in May 1921. In Jacksonville there was also an early station with the call sign WCAN, although those call letters were deleted a short time later and it's not currently known if it ever got on the air.
WDAE, as most early radio stations, broadcast on several frequencies during its beginning years, settling on AM 1250 by 1941. Through the 1940s and 50s, WDAE was a CBS Radio Network affiliate, carrying dramas, comedies, news, sports, soap operas, game shows and big band remotes during the Golden Age of Radio. In the 1960s and 70s, WDAE was a popular Top 40 station. But in the 1980s, as Top 40 listening switched to FM, WDAE changed to an oldies format. By the 1990s, it had moved to adult standards and later began simulcasting the adult contemporary music format of co-owned 100.7 FM WUSA (now WMTX).
In 1999, the station was acquired by Clear Channel Communications, the previous name of current owner iHeartMedia. Clear Channel switched WDAE to its current all-sports format as "The Sports Animal."
WSUN AM 620 History
On November 1, 1927 WSUN first signed on the air. For most of its early history, it was owned by the City of St. Petersburg. WSUN used the first directional AM antenna system in the U.S., implemented in order to protect WTMJ in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, also on 620 kHz. In its early years, WSUN was an ABC Radio affiliate, carrying the network's schedule until the 1960s, when it moved to a full service middle of the road music format.
Through the 1970s and 80s, WSUN aired country music. It was owned by Plough Broadcasting, a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical firm Schering-Plough. In 1988, Cox Broadcasting acquired WSUN and switched it to talk and later to 1950s-based adult standards. In 1998, pending a sale, WSUN began simulcasting the audio from Cox's local cable TV news station "Bay News 9," changing the call letters of AM 620 to WSAA. Cox Broadcasting moved the WSUN call letters and its standards format over to its co-owned station on AM 910 in nearby Plant City, Florida (now WTWD).
WDAE Moves to 620
On January 1, 2000, three Tampa Bay radio stations, including WDAE, were involved in a frequency swap. WSUN had previously vacated AM 620, moving to AM 910. WDAE and its sports format moved from 1250 to 620. Business-formatted WHNZ, which Clear Channel had bought from Paxson Communications in 1998, switched from AM 570 to WDAE's previous home at 1250. And Clear Channel put a news/talk format on AM 570, changing the call letters to WTBN, which stood for Tampa Bay News. Salem Communications bought WTBN the following year, installing a Christian radio format.
Sports Team Associations
WDAE is the flagship station for the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. It is also the Tampa Bay home of the University of Florida Gators college football and basketball games. Each year, WDAE carries the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg auto race.
The station had been the flagship station for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football. Beginning with the 2017 season, the team's broadcasts move to co-owned active rock station 97.9 FM WXTB. WDAE continues to air interviews with players and coaches during game weeks.
WDAE had also been the flagship radio station for the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League (which is now on sister station 970 AM WFLA). WDAE had also broadcast the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League (now on sister station 1250 AM WHNZ).
When WDAE became a sports talk station in 1997, one of the hosts to help build the station was WFLA-TV Channel 8 sports anchor Chris Thomas (real name Christian Thomas Olrick). He hosted the "Chris Thomas Show" on WDAE from 1997 until 2004, when he died from cancer. Thomas was a listener favorite, often getting in mock on-air feuds with WDAE's afternoon host, Steve Duemig. The two men were friends in real life.
As part of his tongue-in-cheek on air persona, Thomas often gave himself nicknames, such as The Mediocore Sports Hunk. He also used many sound drops, such as the ferret from the Budweiser frogs commercials, or various other animals, giving them names, such as Clevis and Clovis. Despite his popularity, WFLA-TV declined to renew Thomas's contract in 2002, publicly expressing a desire to move to a younger sportscaster. However, some fans have speculated his openly hostile relationship with the Glazer family, owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a major sponsor of Channel 8, plus an off the air alcohol-related incident six months earlier led to the station's desire to part ways with Thomas. Thomas battled alcoholism most of his adult life. In January 2003, he was involved in a drunk driving accident with Buccaneers cheerleader Michelle Betancourt.
However, despite the controversy surrounding his personal life, he remained a beloved figure in the Tampa Bay sports community. After Thomas died in February 2004, the WDAE studio was renamed the Chris Thomas Studio.
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1942 page 118
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1982 page B-55
- Stark, Phyllis (January 15, 1994). "Vox Jox". Billboard. 106 (3).
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1977 page C-47
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1970 page B46
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1983 page B-54
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1995 page B-92
- "Radio station's move to bump Bay News 9", St. Petersburg Times (December 2, 1999)]
- WDAE Website
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WDAE
- Radio-Locator Information on WDAE
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WDAE
- Query the FCC's FM station database for W237CW
- Radio-Locator information on W237CW
- Article about Chris Thomas - St. Pete Times, February 20, 2004