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Judith Smelser Tapped as WMFE’s Interim President & General Manager

Judith Smelser Tapped as WMFE’s Interim President & General Manager

Orlando-Based Public Media Veteran Will Start Work Next Week

September 1, 2021

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Judith Smelser[/caption]

Longtime public media journalist and consultant Judith Smelser will put her experience and expertise to work exclusively for her local public media station when she becomes Interim President and General Manager of WMFE and WMFV, the NPR affiliates serving much of Central Florida. Previous leader Erika Pulley-Hayes departed the organization August 13 to become President and General Manager of WAMU in Washington, DC.

The Chair of WMFE/WMFV’s Board of Trustees Donna Mackenzie announced Smelser’s selection to station staff on Tuesday; Smelser’s first day will be September 7.

“Judith is a great choice for this role for many reasons,” Mackenzie said, “not the least of which are her experience, her familiarity with, knowledge of, and passion for, the station and public radio, her approach to leadership, her ability to actively listen, and her excitement about and involvement in our community.”

Smelser is the Founder & CEO of Smelser Editing & Consulting, an Orlando-based business that has provided customized consulting, coaching, training, and editing services to more than 30 public media stations and collaborations and over 200 journalists and station leaders since 2013.

She is also no stranger to WMFE. Smelser served the station as News Director until 2011 and as an award-winning reporter from 2004-2007. In 2011, she was recruited by Colorado Public Radio in Denver, where she served as Assistant News Director and later as Managing Editor. She returned to Orlando in 2013 to launch her consulting business and has provided content and strategy consulting for WMFE on multiple occasions.

“Orlando is my home,” Smelser said, “and I consider WMFE my public media home. I care deeply about the future of our city and region and about the future of this station. I love my consulting work, and not much else could have convinced me to step away from it -- in fact, I can't think of anything else. WMFE holds a very special place in my heart.”

During her time as a journalist at WMFE, Smelser covered Hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Jeanne in 2004, as well as the final Space Shuttle missions for both WMFE and NPR. She also oversaw the launch of WMFE’s Intersection, now hosted by Matthew Peddie, airing Thursdays at noon and 9pm on 90.7 WMFE and 89.5 WMFV and available at wmfe.org and on all major podcasting platforms.

“I see incredible potential for WMFE,” Smelser said, “and I feel like my experience with public media organizations across the country has uniquely prepared me to help the station realize it. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to serve and support the organization, its talented staff, and my community.”

WMFE/WMFV’s Board of Trustees will launch a national search for a permanent President and General Manager, for which Smelser intends to be a candidate.

“The Trustees feel it’s critical to provide the station with stable leadership, support and direction during the search period,” said Board Chair Mackenzie. “We wanted to feel confident about a strong interim GM during this time, and we believe we found that with Judith.”

Smelser says journalism excellence and community connection will be top priorities as she moves into the position, as will workplace culture.

“My goal is to help WMFE become one of the best, most welcoming, and most equitable places to work in Central Florida, and I believe every employee holds a piece of the puzzle,” Smelser said. “In this moment when America is reimagining the workplace as a whole, I will be honored to lead a team of mission-driven people at WMFE, with those values at the core.”

About the Organization:
Community Communications Inc. is a non-profit, member-supported, community-based public broadcasting company that operates 90.7 WMFE-FM, primary provider of NPR programming for much of Central Florida; 90.7-2 Classical; and 89.5 WMFV, public radio for The Villages, Leesburg, and The Golden Triangle. Part of the community since 1980, Community Communications focuses on providing quality national and local news and programming. Visit wmfe.org for more information.


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