Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

WUSF News picked up a number of awards, including three first place honors, at the Associated Press Florida Broadcasters Awards Ceremony in Orlando this past weekend.

The WUSF News Team won First Place in the categories of "Continuing Coverage, Large Market Radio" for its coverage of the Republican National Convention and "Election Coverage, Large Market Radio" for its work on the 2012 Elections.


During last summer's Republican National Convention, countless luminaries took to the stage of the Tampa Bay Times Forum: party nominee Mitt Romney, GOP rising stars Marco Rubio and Chris Christie.

But one of the biggest stars to grace the stage didn't have a name at all. It was a chair.

Bobbie O'Brien

The political conventions are over, and now we're able to start answering the questions - what did residents of Tampa Bay actually get from the Republican National Convention?

Our final take from the series, Voices on the Street, compares what people said before the convention to what they're saying now it's over.

Michael Gentry

Michael Gentry sells the Epoch, a newspaper for homeless people in the bay area. You can almost always find him on Scott Street, near the I-275 and I-4 entrance ramps. It's a good spot to observe what's going on in Tampa.

'Florida Matters: The Convention' Pre-Game Show

Sep 6, 2012
Dalia Colon / WUSF

Thanks to all who called in during episode 1 of Florida Matters: The Convention, which aired live from the Tampa Convention Center on Aug. 24, 2012. We admit, we got kinda giddy when the phone lines started to line up.

Guests on our Republican National Convention preview show included:

Bobbie O'Brien

Elephants are iconic Republican and they’re also the closest living relative to the Florida manatee according to the Florida Wildlife website.

So, it seemed only natural that the animal kingdom duo be the focus of our RNC art coverage.

First, the “Elephants Herd About Tampa Bay” art project. It gave 29 artists a chance to adorn, embellish and festoon fiberglass, elephant sculptures.

About fifteen thousand members of the media were in town for the RNC--but perhaps you didn't notice, given the limited coverage of Tampa within the last week.

We've read the stories of strippers.

And listened to them on air.  Some snippets of news reports include:

"Like it or not, Tampa has a reputation when it comes to strip clubs..."

"Yup, Tampa strip clubs are dressing up before dressing down..."

Worshippers Observe RNC Party Politics

Aug 31, 2012

We’ve talked  a lot about the protests and parties surrounding the Republican National Convention, and there have been a lot of them. But there’s a religious aspect to the convention as well.

Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon invited conservative political columnist Cal Thomas to speak at its Sunday services. Two-thousand worshipers attended the 11 o'clock service.

"Cal we are so thankful you're here with us today. We look forward to hearing what God is going to say through you," said Pastor Stephen Rummage as he welcomed the guest speaker up to the pulpit.

'Florida Matters: The Convention' Post-RNC Show

Aug 31, 2012
Dalia Colon / WUSF

The Republican National Convention may have officially closed up shop Thursday, but Tampa Bay residents still had plenty on their minds Friday morning--from politics to economics, to how Tampa looked to the world.

On the final edition of Florida Matters: The Convention, listeners joined the conversation with our guests:

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

No arrests were made, although operations at TECO's Big Bend Power Plant in Apollo Beach were interrupted for a few hours Thursday due to a Republican National Convention-related protest. Five protesters chained themselves together in the middle of a road at the plant, while a sixth chained himself to a truck.

Watch: Environmental Protest at Big Bend

Aug 30, 2012
Alex Cook

Protesters in town for the RNC took a bus ride down to Apollo Beach on Thursday to support an environmental protest at TECO Energy's Big Bend power station.  

Environmental activist group Earth First! had chained themselves together in the road leading up to the plant, and police worked to free them from their constraints.  No arrests were made, and the protesters left peacefully.

Earth First! spokesperson Leah Rothschild said they chose the Big Bend station for their action because it's Florida's dirtiest power plant and TECO helped fund the RNC.

Google Lounge: A Haven for Journalists

Aug 30, 2012

Just a few steps away from the security perimeter outside the Tampa Convention Center is a reporter's oasis.

It’s the Google Lounge—and it’s swanky.

On the last day of the convention, journalists filled the lounge, taking advantage of all it has to offer. It sounded like a school cafeteria with laughter piercing through the din of journalistic chatter.

There's still one full day of events left in the Republican National Convention, but it's not too early to begin assessing how the region fared. And, Tampa was not as welcoming as it could have been in the eyes of a fourth-generation resident.

“It has been a whirlwind. Fences went up very quickly, barriers went up very quickly” Tampa City Councilwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin said. “Within I would say 24 to 48 hours, this city completely changed in my eyes.”

Watch: Kathy Castor at Planned Parenthood Rally

Aug 30, 2012
Alex Cook

"They have now adopted a Republican Party platform that is the most extreme in the history of American politics when it comes to women's access to the healthcare that they need," said Representative Kathy Castor to a crowd of cheering women and men at a Planned Parenthood rally in Tampa on Wednesday.

A torrent of rain pelted the crowd as Castor finished her remarks, but it didn't deter the enthusiasm of the people gathered in support of women's reproductive rights.

Most Floridians are used to the heat and humidity. But this week, about 50,000 extra people are in Tampa, and some of them aren't used to the climate.

Blogger Brian Crowley overheard a comment in the downtown Tampa Hyatt, where the Wisconsin delegation is staying.

"Now I believe there is a Republican war on women. Look what this place does to my hair."

He continues to write that 'Tampa has turned into an armed camp' quoting from a tweet:

It's What's For Dinner - or Lunch

Aug 29, 2012

Wet and rainy one day. Sunny and balmy  the next. Usually hot and always humid.

Welcome to Florida, RNC visitors!

Now that the threat of Tropical Storm Isaac is over for us and the Republican National Convention is underway, we can get back to helping you discover more about the Tampa Bay area other than its unpredictable weather.

Watch: Voter Suppression Protest in Ybor

Aug 29, 2012
Alex Cook

Protesters spoke out against voter suppression laws and marched in Ybor City on Tuesday, a few miles from where the first official day of the RNC took place.

See the rally and march, as well as an explanation of why they gathered to protest, in the video below.

RNC Protesters May Be Fewer, But Their Message Is Mighty

Aug 28, 2012
Eric Mennel / WUSF

Some look threatening, wearing black and covering their faces with bandanas.

Others march in pink dresses and high heels, fighting the war on women's rights.

Their numbers may be smaller than anticipated thanks to bad weather and heightened security, but protesters from across the nation remain vigilant during the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

They want their voices heard.

WUSF reporters have spent the past week documenting these groups and their efforts. Here's a look at some of our work.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

A group of likely anarchists dressed in black tried to march without a permit through downtown Tampa late Monday afternoon.

The protesters sat down in the intersection, chanted a slogan then turned and walked back to the protest zone.

Carmel Delshad / WUSF

Warren Colazzo is in the business of beautiful people.  As the co-owner of Thee Dollhouse gentlemen's club in Tampa, Colazzo is expecting some major business during the RNC.

"If they're going to compare this to three or four super bowls, I just think people better be ready. It'll be very very busy."

Dalia Colon / WUSF

Tuesday's Florida Matters: The Convention included plenty of politics. Here's what you missed:

Watch: Is Downtown Tampa a Police State?

Aug 28, 2012
Alex Cook

"It's not a police state," says Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, adding that the officers on hand during Monday's March on the RNC were there for the protection of the protesters.

Armed National Guard troops peek from behind a labyrinth of barriers covering the city blocks around the convention site.  Police officers on bikes, horses, motorcycles and foot roam the empty city streets.

Some protesters are worried.

Take a look at downtown for yourself and see what Castor and protesters have to say below.

Watch: Protest at the Trop

Aug 27, 2012
Alex Cook

Delegates and reporters partied inside Tropicana Field Sunday night, officially kicking off the Republican National Convention.

Outside, protesters gathered to march in opposition.

Police worked with the protesters to keep them on the designated parade route, which led through abandoned streets to a chain link fence outside the baseball field's parking lot.  

The threat of Tropical Storm Isaac loomed, and it wasn't long until the protesters fled from the impending weather.

See the protest and march below.

Storms, Strippers and Stereotypes

Aug 27, 2012

Tropical Storm Isaac may be making headlines after delaying the start of the RNC -- but the media blitz in Tampa shows no sign of stopping.

Reporters from The Washington Post posed an interesting question:

Why pick a state in Hurricane Alley in peak hurricane season for an all-important nominating convention where visuals are everything?

When Marco Rubio introduces Mitt Romney on Thursday, the Florida senator will see his rising star climb even higher into the national and international spotlight. Washington Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia explores Rubio's ascent in a new book titled... wait for it... The Rise of Marco Rubio.

'Seedy' Tampa Makes Headlines

Aug 24, 2012

"Tampa: America's Hottest Mess"-- yep, that's a real headline from In his scathing piece, author Will Doig writes:

"The GOP convention's host city is a disaster, and a perfect reflection of where Tea Party politics will lead cities. Tampa is a hot urban mess, equal parts Reagan '80s and Paul Ryan 2010s"

News from other outlets isn't much better. A sampling of headlines reads:

Tropical Storm Isaac: RNC Visitors Can Be Accommodated

Aug 24, 2012
Scott Finn / WUSF

While forecasts put Tropical Storm Isaac currently moving into the Gulf west of the Tampa Bay Area, emergency officials are ready for the worst.

Experts at the Hillsborough County Emergency Operations Center said even if Isaac became a Category 5 hurricane, there are enough storm shelters for everyone including visitors here for the Republican National Convention..

“That additional 50,000 people would not impact and we would be able to shelter them in public shelters if that were to become necessary,” said Holly Wade, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County EOC.

Strip clubs and heat--that's basically what The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has mentioned about Tampa during their preliminary Republican National Convention coverage. 

One of the show's correspondents, Aasif Mandvi, went to high school and college in Tampa. In an interview with Miami New Times blog, he says:

Watch: Police Descend on Occupy Tampa Camp

Aug 21, 2012
Occupy Tampa

Red and blue lights filled the streets surrounding Occupy Tampa's encampment at Voice of Freedom Park last Friday night, as the Tampa Police Department made its presence known.  Officers in body armor patrolled the streets and squad cars stopped passing vehicles for random searches.  Occupy activists recorded it all and held a press conference on Monday, claiming that the TPD had overstepped its bounds and infringed on their rights.  

The economic impact of having the Tampa Bay region reported on by 15,000 journalists is one of the main reasons given for hosting the Republican National Convention. And local business leaders are not leaving to chance the kind of impression the bay area makes.

Preparations started in January to shape how out-of-town reporters write about the Tampa Bay area during the RNC.

The Tampa Police Department demonstrated for business leaders the equipment and tactics they will use to control protesters at the upcoming Republican National Convention.

Several police officers acted as demonstrators whose actions grew violent.  Their counterparts in uniform then showed how they plan to respond to a riot.  Officers on bicycles formed a barrier, and mounted police corralled protesters until men in riot gear dispersed the crowd with smoke.

Full video below.