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WMNF-88.5 lays off music director Lee 'Flee' Courtney



It's hard times in the media these days, even for a beloved community institution like WMNF-88.5 FM.

Our colleague Eric Deggans reports the station has, for the first time, resorted to layoffs to save money. One of those people laid off is music director Lee "Flee" Courtney, a host of the Sonic Detour program and an omnipresent face at WMNF concerts, including Tropical Heatwave and many at Skipper's Smokehouse.

He's also been a staunch supporter of the local music scene, working with the Bay Area Arts and Music Organization (BAAMO) and leading trips to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas for the annual Florida Bandango. (It is telling, perhaps, that there was no Bandango in Austin this year.)

Courtney sounded surprised by the layoffs when he talked to Eric on Wednesday. "I've actually raised more than my salary through all the fundraising events I've put on," he said.

It was a little over a year ago that Courtney sent out a plea for listener donations with the subject line, 'The end of music on WMNF?' And as the station neared its 30th anniversary in September, Eric wondered aloud whether WMNF's listener-supported days would soon end.

Click here to read Eric's story. And after the jump, read a goodbye e-mail Courtney sent out Tuesday to friends and colleagues.

From the e-mail Flee sent out on Tuesday night:

Sorry for this form letter, but before you hear it on the streets, due to budget shortfalls I have been laid off as Music Director at WMNF. (At least it wasn’t for playing bad Beatle covers every week—I am still doing the Sonic Detour Mondays 4-6pm.)

I’m sad to leave, as radio has always been a love of mine. I started making mix tapes by hotwiring the earphone from my transistor radio to my miniature reel-to-reel in grammar school and begged my parents to drive me to all the local radio stations to watch the DJs spin records until I was old enough to take the bus.

I disagree with WMNFs decision. I thought I brought more to WMNF than a 10 hour a week part time job pays and worked hard on special events outside of my regular duties to raise thousands of dollars a year for WMNF.

If you are one of the many volunteers that I’ve worked with over the years—thank you so much—I think we got a lot done in the last 10 years.



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


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