CBS Tampa Bay Radio to host first public debate on “The Lens” Aug. 18

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What should we do with the St. Petersburg Pier?

A simple question has grown into one of the city’s most divisive controversies, bringing out passionate and vocal advocates for both sides. The conflict has become so contentious over the future of the iconic inverted pyramid that some observers have trouble agreeing on even basic facts.

As the Aug. 27 citywide referendum approaches, it’s clear St. Pete sits at a junction.

At the heart of the issue is the Michael Maltzan-designed Lens. Most public polling shows a majority of registered voters want to cancel Maltzan’s contact, putting an end to the increasingly unpopular abstract look of The Lens.

Although each side has devoted a lot of energy in public meetings, informational gatherings, social media and other forums, there has not been a single public debate with both sides on one stage.

On Sunday, that will end.

Nine days before voters have their say — Sunday, Aug. 18 — CBS Radio’s The Current  will provide the only face-to-face debate between The Lens supporters and opponents.

Stop the Lens promoters Bud Risser and Bill Ballard from the Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg will face off with Lens proponents Lisa Wannemacher of the Citizens for the St. Pete Pier and City Councilmember Jeff Danner.

The Current is Tampa Bay’s news and public affairs talk show hosted by Franco Ripple, and airs each weekend on five CBS Radio stations:

  • WHFS 98.7 FM: Sunday 6:00-7:00 a.m.
  • WHFS 1010 AM: Sunday 6:00-7:00 a.m.
  • WLLD 94.1 FM: Sunday 6:00-7:00 a.m.
  • WRBQ 104.7 FM: Sunday 7:00 – 8:00 a.m.
  • WHFS HD2: Sunday 9:00-10:00 a.m. (HD Radio)
  • WQYK HD2: Sunday 10:00-11:00 p.m. (HD Radio)
  • WQYK 99.5 FM: Sunday 11:00 p.m.–12:00 a.m.

Listeners can also hear the program on mobile devices using the app, available on iTunes and Google Play.

Hear the entire debate Monday, Aug. 19 on the CBS Tampa Bay page.

Submit questions to be asked on-air on Twitter @TheCurrentCBS, by text at 56022 or email at

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.