TAMPA, Fla. — At the turn of the millennium, the way we listened to music took a spin into the digital age. Gone are the days of rushing to the music store to buy the latest album of your favorite band you heard playing on the radio.

With dozens of streaming services at our fingertips, traditional radio stations are trying to keep up in the digital age. According to a study published by New York University’s Steinhart Music Business Program, the fate of traditional radio looks grim.  

The report stated people born after 1995 – the Gen Z population – turned to find music through digital platforms with the likes of YouTube, Spotify, and Pandora.

The crew over at WMNF 88.5 F.M., which is a Tampa-based community radio station, heeded the warning signs and is trying its best to stay one step ahead of the game.

“We try to bring in younger people,” explained co-founder and news director, Rob Lorei. “When we get new people in, they enrich the station, and the same is true for the staff.”

This year marks 40 years since WMNF began its journey in community radio. With more than 80,000 listeners throughout Central Florida, the station is in the process of making sure it keeps its audience and hopes to bring in new listeners.

To overcome some of the digital challenges, WMNF plans to fine-tune its sound with new digital boards. 

“We’re excited about the new boards because it will give us an opportunity to get rid of a lot of the analog noise,” said Dwaine Terry, the station’s operations manager.

“It’s almost going to feel like the station got closer to your ear,” Terry explained. “It’s not going to sound like you’re listening to something three feet away from you. It’s going to sound that you’ve got headphones on.”

WMNF has a large collection of vinyl records and compact discs. As digital becomes more prominent in its overall plan, the station does not intend to get rid of its music collection. 

“It probably would just stop being used,” Terry said, noting that for the station to survive, it must improve its technology.

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