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Image: Litlando logo, thedrunkenodyssey.files.wordpress.com
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

Litlando


The news is full of headlines about the rising costs of education. As college tuition spirals ever upward, soaring student debt has become a national concern. And many are discouraged from post-collegiate study purely because of the price tag. So maybe this group of Orlando writers, poets and publishers has the right idea: The Litlando Creative Writing Conference, happening Saturday the 27th, bills itself as “the day-long literary equivalent of an MFA for the frugal and possibly deranged.” There’s your first literary lesson: a perfect example of hyperbole. It may be a slight exaggeration, but the organizers of Litlando have lined up a full day of lectures, workshops and panels that anyone seeking a master of fine arts in creative …
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Image: Park Service Logo, floridastateparks.org
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

FL DEP Proposal to use State Parks to Generate Revenue


On Feb. 13, a group of activists, concerned citizens and speakers gathered at Wekiwa Springs State Park to protest a Florida Department of Environmental Protection proposal to use state parks to generate revenue. It was one of many similar protests held in state parks around the state. There’s currently a plan on the table to allow hunting, as well as increased cattle grazing and timbering in state parks because, according to DEP secretary Jon Steverson, the parks could be doing more to earn their keep. According to Gov. Rick Scott’s office, state parks attracted about 27.1 million visitors in 2014 and they generate “nearly $2.1 billion in direct economic impact” for the state. But that’s not enough. Now the state …
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Image: medical marijuana, cpr.org
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

Medical Marijuana Initiative Returning To 2016 Ballot


It’s official: The medical marijuana initiative is returning to the ballot in 2016. United for Care has collected more than enough verified signatures to put the issue up to a vote in November. So Floridians will get to decide on a constitutional amendment that would allow licensed doctors to prescribe marijuana to their patients, in a presidential election that virtually guarantees high voter turnout. Ben Pollara, executive director of United for Care, said, “Every day, doctors prescribe dangerous, addictive, and potentially deadly narcotics to their patients but can’t even suggest the use of marijuana. Very soon, Florida doctors will finally have that option.” In 2014, Gov. Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 1030, also known as the Charlotte’s Web bill, making …
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Image: Florida’s Capitol Complex, myflorida.com
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

FL Bills That Would Change Public Records Law


One month into the 2016 legislative session in Tallahassee, and we’ve already seen our share of controversial legislative proposals. So far, there’s been a proposal to make legal abortion a felony, a proposal to open the door to fracking interests and a proposal to prevent counties from banning polystyrene products. Now the Legislature is also considering bills that could undermine transparency in government.
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Artist Thomas Thorspecken Photo by Deanna Ferrante, Orlandoweekly.com
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

Winter Park Passed Ban On Artists


Last month, the Winter Park City Commission voted unanimously to ban street art after receiving complaints from merchants, who said performers were blocking the street outside their shops and blasting loud music. In what seems like municipal overreach, however, the ordinance bans all kinds of art: “acting; singing; playing musical instruments; puppetry; miming; magic; dancing; juggling; the public display or creation of crafts, sculpture, artistry, writings, or compositions, including the application of brush, pastel, crayon, pencil, or other similar objects to paper, cardboard, canvas, cloth or other similar medium” — all are now forbidden acts in Winter Park’s Central Business district. It’s that last part of the ordinance, about the application of brush or pencil to paper, that has “urban …
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Photo by Erin Sullivan, Orlandoweekly.com
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

The #ReclaimMLK movement


While some cities around the country reported some inconveniences and disruptions by protestors who were trying to make their voices heard on Martin Luther King Day, the Black Lives Matter candlelight vigil in downtown Orlando outside police headquarters this week was quiet. Rather than anger, it reflected sadness, solidarity and hope for change. Participants from organizations like Dream Defenders and Organize Now read the final words of some of the most recent victims of police brutality and abuse, including Sandra Bland and Eric Garner, and after a closing prayer, attendees raised candles overhead and joined in a quiet rendition of “We Shall Overcome.”
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Image: Downtown Ocoee 1920, ocoee.org
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

The Legacy of Black Press in the Region


95 years ago, Ocoee was the site of a massacre. “RACE TROUBLE AT OCOEE CLAIMS 2 WHITE VICTIMS,” reads part of a headline from the Orlando Morning Sentinel’s Nov. 3, 1920 edition. Newspapers reported that a black man named Mose Norman became enraged when he was told he couldn’t vote because he didn’t pay his poll tax. Media accounts said he stormed the polling place with a group of angry black men, starting a massive race riot. 60 people, most of them black, were killed. Norman, meanwhile, allegedly hid in the home of a friend, who was later lynched in downtown Orlando for helping him. It wasn’t until 20 years later, when Zora Neale Hurston wrote her account of the …
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Image: Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins


Much of the South celebrated Christmas in shorts last month; 2015 was the warmest year on record across the globe. While droughty California became ever more parched, Texas and Oklahoma were rocked by floods in their wettest May ever. In March, a nurse filed suit after being infected with Ebola when that virus jumped borders to the U.S. But readers of the growing genre of post-apocalyptic fiction were mentally prepared for all this. Last year was stuffed with literary disaster porn — like Station Eleven, Black Moon, and Gold Fame Citrus, Claire Watkins’ novel of a waterless American West. (Think Chinatown crossed with Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.) The novel’s highest achievement may be the way it avoids the disaster-as-metaphor dodge …
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Image: prisonlegalnews.org
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

FL prohibits distribution of Prison Legal News


If you’re serving time in prison, it would probably interest you to read news about dangerous cost-cutting measures made by for-profit prison corporations or excessive fees charged to inmates to make phone calls home. That’s why Prison Legal News, a publication that’s been serving prison-centric news and editorials to subscribers since 1990, is such a popular publication among prison inmates around the country. But in Florida, the state Department of Corrections is keeping the monthly magazine out of prisoners’ hands, claiming that ads in the magazine pose threats to prison safety. Since 2009 the state has intercepted subscriptions to prisoners, and in 2011, the publication sued the DOC charging it with violating the First Amendment. The court battle has had …
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Photo: Mick Jagger ,  Bob Bonis / courtesy BobBonis.com
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

OMA The British Invasion collection


Florida has long played muse to a certain kind of songwriter — your Jimmy Buffetts, your Bertie Higginses — but it may come as a surprise that a sunny day poolside at a Clearwater motel was the birthplace of the Rolling Stones’ breakthrough hit, “Satisfaction.” Or so Keith Richards claimed in his 2010 memoir. Which fans the flames of intrigue for a show now at the Orlando Museum of Art. The British Invasion is a collection of pictures taken by Bob Bonis, American tour manager for the Stones from 1964 to ’66. The snaps he took, mostly unpublished during his life, revel in and reveal his intimate access to the band, showing Mick, Keith and the boys not just performing …
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