TIFTON -- Tifton's local news radio station has now made the change to full-time news and talk.

WTIF, which broadcasts on 1340 AM and 107.5 FM, started Wednesday playing all news and talk 24 hours every day. Formerly, the station had used a country music format but the directors of the station wanted to take it in a unique direction for this area.

Station manager Chris Beckham said that WTIF will be the only talk station in Tifton and will still provide the local coverage listeners expect from the station. WTIF hopes to fill a void, Beckham said.

"It's the fastest-growing format because as good as any station is that's playing music, it's still the same music somebody else is playing down the dial," said Beckham.

He said that with the growing use of iPods and other options for music, the demand for talk radio has risen.

WTIF will still feature local news and sports and more of it. The station will still have the caller-driven "Morning Show" hosted by Beckham and David Haire from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays. Also, a new feature, "The Noon Show," will be added from noon to 1 p.m. weekdays. The new show will also accept calls and will center around special guests from the community.

"If you call in and talk about something, that's what we're going to talk about," said Beckham.

He said that WTIF has always stood for local coverage and that is "certainly not going to change."

The station will still interrupt syndicated talk shows to broadcast breaking local news and will still host local sports broadcasts including Tift County High School and Abraham Baldwin College athletics. The station will play six hours of local church services on Sunday and plans to do plenty of live remote broadcasts in town.

The new format will feature many popular syndicated talk shows, and most of the new voices on the station are well known for their conservative viewpoints. Beckham said that the format was the best fit for the local listeners.

"There's no category that will fit everybody, but we think this is a line-up that best reflects the area," he said.

The weekday format will include live, call-in shows including Laura Ingraham from 9 a.m. to noon, Clark Howard from 1 to 3 p.m., Sean Hannity from 3 to 6 p.m., Michael Reagan from 6 to 9 p.m. and Rusty Humphries from 9 p.m. to midnight.

Mike Gallagher will be the host for the overnight. Weekends will feature a different line-up with personalities such as Michael Medved and Dennis Prager.

The station will still broadcast Atlanta Braves baseball and University of Georgia football.

Although the station is much different, Beckham said that he thinks people will be pleased if they tune in.

"I think if they'll listen, they'll like it," he said.

WTIF will also soon began broadcasting from its new office at the Tifton Mall.

To call in to "The Morning Show" or "The Noon Show," call 382-1341.

To contact reporter Dusty Vassey, call 382-4321, ext. 208.

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