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Music director Flee, others rehired at WMNF-88.5

Looks like the power of the Tampa public radio community can never be underestimated.

On its website, WMNF-88.5 says it has rehired three employees who were fired last week, including music director Lee "Flee" Courtney, above, a driving force in the Tampa Bay music scene. The layoffs (which also included receptionist Julie Scheid and special events coordinator Linda Reisinger) were the result of a budget shortfall, and constituted the first layoffs in the beloved station's 30-year history.

On Wednesday night, according to WMNF, station manager Jim Bennett told the staff and listeners that the layoffs had been rescinded, thanks to "voluntary staff benefit reductions" and a generous (unrelated) listener donation.

Bennett's statement, from the WMNF website:

Good news has come to WMNF after more than a week of controversy. Yesterday WMNF received a large one-time gift which will enable us to rescind the announced layoffs of three staff members due to a financial crisis at the station. The donation was not solicited as a result of the layoffs. The timing was coincidental but couldn't have happened at a more critical time. As of this afternoon, Julie Scheid, Lee Courtney, and Linda Reisinger remain on staff at WMNF. We are very grateful for this amazing gift of financial support that allowed this to happen.

While this timely legacy bequest allows us to avert the crisis and the layoff of three valuable staff members, it will not avoid future crises. WMNF’s future financial health is dependent on expanding our membership base. On July 13 we embark on a three day drive where we hope to add 1000 new or returning station members.

We appreciate the concern and input from the many listeners who contacted us in response to the layoffs. It is important to us to know how much you care about WMNF. We are happy to have our WMNF family back together.

In an e-mail to tbt*, Courtney said he found out about the reinstatements about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

"It was a weird experience -- kinda like being at your own funeral," said Courtney. "And as it turns out -- I'm not dead yet."

Our colleague Eric Deggans first reported the layoffs on June 23. Click here for his report on why the station deemed them necessary (i.e. a $90,000 budget shortfall).

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 3:20pm]


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