Category Archives: Public Broadcasting

Against WMFE sale? You have until Friday to tell FCC

The Federal Communications Commission has set Friday as the deadline for those opposed to the sale of public broadcaster WMFE to make their case.

According to, ‘”The deadline to file a petition to deny is 5/6/11, and all related filings should reference MB Docket No. 11-75 and File No. BALEDT-20110401ACW.”

As you likely know, Orlando’s money-troubled PBS affiliate announced last month that it had entered into a deal to be acquired by Texas religious broadcaster Daystar TV for about $3 million. Unless there is some reason for the FCC to block the sale, WMFE is expected to flip off its PBS programming and become the area’s fourth religious broadcaster after WTGL-Ch. 45, WHLV-Ch. 52 and WACX-Ch. 55.

However, as  noted, “We’re not exactly sure what would constitute an actionable objection to the sale of this station. Daystar has the portfolio to prove that it is a qualified licensee. Some may bemoan the loss of PBS programming; others may welcome the advent of Daystar programming. The FCC does not delve into programming matters and can offer no help on that count to either side. We suspect this deal with go through according to the agreement between the two parties.”

Ex-WESH anchors’ Growing Bolder show goes national

Growing Bolder: Marc Middleton and Bill Shafer
Growing Bolder: Marc Middleton and Bill Shafer

Former longtime WESH 2 News anchors Marc Middleton and Bill Shafer have reason to celebrate this weekend.

“Growing Bolder,” the focus of their attention since leaving the world of TV news, has been picked up nationally. This weekend, the 30-minute show begins airing on more than 100 PBS stations, including markets like L.A., San Francisco, Denver and Indianapolis.

“It’s a huge piece for us — it’s pivotal,”  Middleton, CEO of Bolder Media Group, told the Orlando Business Journal. Now that the show — in its fourth season — will be seen beyond Central Florida, it  can go after national sponsors, pulling in cash to continue to fund this effort at journalism focused on the 50-plus demographic.

Up until this big break, the show has been airing on local PBS station WMFE-Channel 24 as well as Tampa PBS affiliate WEDU-Channel 3. But the Growing Bolder brand isn’t restricted to television. There’s a radio show that airs on 90.7 WMFE-FM, as well as lots of social media outreach, including a Growing Bolder Facebook page and Twitter feed.

The show even has a new website, that explains its mission: “It’s the newest show on PBS stations coast-to-coast. It’s inspirational, affirmational and entertaining. Produced by an Emmy Award-winning team, Growing Bolder tells the stories of ordinary men and women living extra ordinary lives. It’s about people reinventing themselves to pursue their passions and build lives of significance. It’s about entrepreneurs, cancer survivors, masters athletes, rock stars, artists, and more.”

Former WMFE chief launches non-profit media venture

ttt-towerSome say the future of journalism will be in non-profit groups. One Central Florida media executive is going see if that’s true.

Former longtime WMFE TV and radio president and CEO Stephen McKenney Steck has announced the formation of the Carroll McKenney Foundation for Public Media.

“Carroll McKenney Foundation for Public Media is a new Oviedo based non-profit public charity launching as a non-commercial and educational online public media program venture,” the group said in a news release. “CMF will produce and distribute the programming via the Internet in the form of short audio segments of features and full length sound-rich audio programs and documentaries all available online via on-demand audio streaming and downloadable audio podcasts.”

After the jump, what local anchor is involved with this project …

Continue reading Former WMFE chief launches non-profit media venture

Forget extension, Orlando stations set to drop analog signals

Despite lawmakers’ approval of a plan to extend the digital transition period until June, at least three Orlando stations may pull the plug on their analog broadcasts as early as Feb. 17.

Public broadcaster WMFE-Ch. 24, Univision’s WVEN-Ch. 26 and indy WRDQ-Ch. 27 may turn off their analog signals 12 days from now, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

“I don’t think there is much of anything to be gained by postponing it to June 12,” WVEN VP/GM Antonio Guernica told the Sentinel. “I think everybody who is going to be ready is ready and those who aren’t ready now, I don’t believe they will prepare between now and June 12. There are some folks who will react only when they go to their TV and their favorite programming is not there.”

Meanwhile, among other stations: WKMG-Ch. 6, WESH-Ch. 2 and WKCF-Ch. 18 will likely wait until the new June deadline to end analog broadcasts, while WFTV-Ch. 9 hasn’t made a decision on what to do.

Why pull the plug early? Money. The stations could save thousands of dollars in electricity bills by turning off their analog transmitters by the original DTV deadline of Feb. 17. They’re already paying for power for both analog and digital transmitters now.

Read the full story here.


Continue reading Forget extension, Orlando stations set to drop analog signals

More layoffs at WMFE TV/radio

Public broadcaster WMFE is continuing to be hit hard by the economic downturn.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the local PBS/NPR station group laid off 28 percent of its staff —  15 employees — in its most recent cuts. This follows layoffs in October that cut 10 people from the stations’ staff.

Among the high-profile positions gone this time: classical-music radio host Dave Glerum and the six-person staff of TV’s “The Arts Connection.” Others losing jobs were a radio reporter, two receptionists, a program scheduler and a person each from engineering, membership and finance.

Jose Fajardo, WMFE’s president and CEO, told the Sentinel that the station is making the cuts to focus dwindling resources on maintaining key PBS and NPR resources, such as Masterpiece Theather.

“The core product of public broadcasting will still be delivered,” Fajardo said. “The cuts were necessary to protect those programs.”

Former WKMG morning traffic reporter Secily Wilson, who was part of “The Arts Connection,” told the Sentinel: “It’s very unfortunate. It marks the end of local TV production” at the station.

Read the Sentinel story here.

Continue reading More layoffs at WMFE TV/radio

Too many hugs for Casey Anthony? That’s what local stations say

Orlando’s local TV stations are so obsessed over Casey Anthony — especially now that it’s sweeps — maybe they just all need a hug? Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker takes the local stations to task for overplaying a story about Anthony attorney Jose Baez hugging Casey twice while in jail.

Boedeker wrote: “No way, Jose,” WFTV-Channel 9 anchor Bob Opsahl said in opening the 5 p.m. Friday news. “Now hugs have him in trouble.” Anchor Martie Salt added: “Lawyers are never supposed to touch their clients, especially like this.” It was all rather breathless.

Meanwhile, WKMG’s Tony Pipitone has been trying to trace Anthony’s movements via her cell phone records and checking into movies she rented before Casey disappeared.

Continue reading Too many hugs for Casey Anthony? That’s what local stations say