Rob Lorei admits it's an odd sight to see politicians he often covers as a journalist coming together to raise money that helps fund his public television show.
But as Lorei closes in on his 11th year hosting local PBS affiliate WEDU-Ch. 3's signature public affairs show Florida This Week, the spirit of cross-party collegiality embodied in the program's latest fundraising event mostly reflects the program's spirit.
Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink and Republican political consultant Adam Goodman worked together to develop "The One Night … That We're All Together," a taping of two special episodes tonight before a live audience featuring a who's who of past guests raising money for WEDU's public affairs shows.
"(Goodman and Sink) wanted to show they can work together on a project and not be at each other's throats," said Lorei, laughing. "I tried to stay out of it … so when I need to ask a tough question, I can."
Charging $250 per ticket, WEDU hopes to raise up to $60,000 from the event, which would help offset the $100,000 annual cost to produce Florida This Week, said the station's general manager, Susan Howarth.
"Public broadcasting is one of the few places where you can have a civilized discussion," she said. "I think the people who participate like that."
That atmosphere is also valued by Lorei, who also oversees news and public affairs at Tampa community radio station WMNF-FM (88.5).
Lorei took over the show — then called Tampa Bay Week — in 2001, replacing creator Syl Farrell. Now it begins its 20th anniversary season as the area's longest-running political talk show on TV.
Tonight's event includes panelists such as Goodman, Sink, state House member Darryl Rouson, WTSP-Ch. 10 reporter Mike Deeson and more. (Full disclosure: I am among the journalists who regularly appear on the program, though I am not participating in the fundraiser.) The episodes will air at 8:30 p.m. Friday on WEDU.