Fajardo exits as WMFE converts into a radio-only outlet

After five years as president of Orlando’s WMFE, the Florida pubcasting outlet that completed the sale of its TV station last month, José Fajardo will leave the position on Dec. 1.

His departure follows closure of the $3.3 million transaction transferring ownership of WMFE-TV to the University of Central Florida.

Under an earlier sales contract, negotiated in 2011, the pubTV station was to be purchased by Community Educators of Orlando Inc., a nonprofit affiliate of Texas-based religious broadcaster Daystar Television. But the transaction came under FCC scrutiny and was withdrawn.

The sale makes WMFE a radio-only operation, broadcasting NPR News and talk programming on 90.7 FM and classical music on an HD Radio channel. The radio outlet has a weekly cume of 200,000 listeners. Its fall pledge drive, which concluded in September, raised more than $200,000, topping a goal of $180,000.

“The WMFE-FM staff is one of the hardest working and most dedicated staffs I’ve had the pleasure of working with during my 29-year career,” Fajardo said, in a prepared statement. “I’m grateful to the WMFE Board for their leadership during some of our most challenging times, and I’m honored to have served WMFE and Central Florida in a job I loved.”

Fajardo’s departure had been under discussion as WMFE’s leadership considered how to reorganize the staff for a radio-only operation. Bob Showalter, chair of the WMFE board, said Fajardo told the board he wanted to reconsider his own role after the TV sale closed.

“José was clear that a new and smaller 90.7 would not need a highly compensated CEO and, to his credit, he kept his word about having that conversation,” Showalter said in a statement. “After preparing 90.7 News to succeed on its own after the sale of Channel 24, Jose and the Board mutually agreed to downsize the role of the c.e.o. Jose decided to take this opportunity to seek new challenges.”

Fajardo joined WMFE in 1996 as director of radio programming. He serves on the NPR board of directors and as a member of the Florida Public Broadcasting Board, which he chaired from 2007 – 09.

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