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90.7 News CEO Josť A. Fajardo Announces Departure from WMFE

WMFE CEO Jose Fajardo
WMFE CEO Jose Fajardo

Orlando, Fla.| WMFE CEO and President of public broadcaster WMFE FM, Jose Fajardo, announced today that he will be stepping down effective December 1st. In a statement released by the WMFE Board of Trustees, Chairman Bob Showalter said that Fajardo's departure had been a topic of discussion after the dual licensee completed sale of its TV side in late September. "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 CEO. Jose decided to take this opportunity to seek new challenges."

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Jose Fajardo started at WMFE in 1996 as programming director for radio.  In 2007 he became President and CEO of WMFE.

Discussing his departure with 90.7s Mark Simpson, Fajardo said he recommended the board of trustees start considering the creation of a radio station manager role upon completing the sale of WMFE’s TV license.  He said part of that was due to a downscaling in the financial size of the organization from an “eight million dollar operation to what is essentially a three million dollar operation”.

Fajardo also pointed to the issue of compensation when comparing his existing position and the direction WMFE is headed in-terms of management structure, “The pay range of a radio only station manager is somewhat out of sync with the compensation I’m making now, so I opted to take this opportunity to step down and continue on a new path in my career.”

WMFE’s most recent public filings show Fajardo's compensation to be $172,198 annually.

Fajardo says he was not asked to leave the company and that his departure is amicable.

During Fajardo’s time as CEO WMFE saw both expansion and contraction.  In 2007 the station launched two television programs “This Week” and “The Arts Connection”, and a new radio program called “Intersection”. Radio reporting capacity was also expanded during Fajardo’s tenure.

Between 2008 and 2009 the station laid off 28 staff from both the radio and TV divisions, and by winter of 2009 both local TV programs were discontinued.

WMFE was not alone facing fiscal contractions during the economic downturn. Many public broadcasters in Florida and nationwide also saw their capacity reduced during this time period as funding sources retracted. 

Fajardo brought WMFE a voice to Washington D.C. as a member of NPR’s board of Trustees.  Fajardo indicated he will resign that post and it is as of yet unclear how NPR will fill the vacancy.

In November of 2009 WMFE FM switched to an all news format under Fajardo’s guidance.  The station most recently ranked 23rd out of 275 public radio markets across the nation. 

Some of Fajardo’s most recent efforts were poured into the hiring of three additional radio news reporters.   He said that action was among the projects he was proud of, but pointed to the success of WMFE’s staff bringing him the most  pride, “I’m just so proud of this staff, we were faced with a lot of turmoil and obstacles during these last two years…  (the news) staff continued to work forward and put out quality work.  I’m proud that we got through that and have a stronger public radio station with 90.7....  I’m proud of the image and reputation that 90.7 has in this community.”

WMFE’s Board of Trustees is preparing to conduct a nationwide search to hire a general manager for WMFE-FM.

You can read a news release about Jose Fajardo's departure here.


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