Florida public broadcasters search for solutions to their funding dilemma
At WUSF Public Media, they shut down a program to read periodicals for the blind, laid off two people and declined to replace two more.
At WEDU-Ch. 3, they've avoided fully replacing departing staffers and may drop programming from The Florida Channel.
And at bohemian-friendly Tampa community radio station WMNF-FM (88.5) — which already announced a scrap metal drive to earn money — there is another, even more unlikely fundraising project under development: a golf tournament, possibly at the tony Belleair Country Club.
This is the local legacy among area public broadcasters, after Gov. Rick Scott's decision in June to veto nearly $4.8-million in state funding for such outlets across Florida. Each public TV station lost more than $300,000; each radio station more than $60,000. Across the Tampa Bay area, WEDU, WMNF and WUSF radio and TV stations saw total losses of up to $1-million.
"There's no sugar daddy out there to replace the ($62,000) the governor took away from us. I wish the public would realize how dire the situation is," said Rob Lorei, WMNF's longtime news and public affairs director.