WMFE-FM hires WEAA’s LaFontaine Oliver as new president

Orlando pubcaster WMFE-FM has hired LaFontaine Oliver as its new president and g.m., replacing José Fajardo who left in December 2012. Oliver comes to the station from WEAA-FM in Baltimore, a jazz and NPR news station licensed to Morgan State University. He joined WEAA in 2007 and, while there, created the nationally syndicated Michael Eric Dyson Show. Oliver has also held management positions with SiriusXM in Washington, D.C., and Radio One, an urban-oriented, multimedia company based in Silver Spring, Md. “We are very excited to bring LaFontaine into this very important role,” said Derek Blakeslee, chair of the Board of Trustees of Community Communications Inc. , WMFE’s license holder.

WMFE rebuffs Independent Public Media bid for Orlando channel

Leaders of Orlando’s WMFE rebuffed a bid from Independent Public Media to purchase its TV station, which had been slated for sale to religious broadcasters until the $3 million deal was withdrawn from the FCC. Ken Devine, IPM’s chief operating officer and former v.p. of media operations of WNET in New York, confirmed to Current that IPM had made an offer, but he declined to share details. WMFE President José Fajardo told Current: “There is no deal between WMFE and Independent Public Media.” Discussions between the parties have ended, he wrote in an email. The sale that Fajardo pursued last year — with Texas-based religious broadcaster Daystar Television — fell apart after the FCC questioned whether the buyer met noncommercial criteria for localism and educational programming (Current, March 26).

With FCC’s eye on Daystar, WMFE-TV sale nixed

The FCC has delayed decisions on two transactions involving sales of public TV stations to Daystar Television Network to examine whether the religious broadcaster meets its criteria for localism and educational programming by noncommercial broadcasters. The scrutiny scuttled a deal involving WMFE in Orlando, pending for nearly a year, and held up a decision on KWBU in Waco, Texas. Daystar, a Texas-based religious network, has been in the market for public TV stations since at least 2003, when it paid $20 million for KERA’s second TV channel in Dallas. It most recently bid on KCSM in San Mateo, Calif. The WMFE sale fell apart after the FCC sent queries to the local entities that had been set up to operate the Orlando and Waco stations.

With WMFE out, there’s a hole in PBS map

WMFE’s sale of its TV station in Orlando, Fla., leaves two smaller public stations reluctant to assume the role of big kid on the block. Other PBS member stations in the state are now discussing how to provide the full PBS schedule to Orlando, the country’s 19th largest TV market, according to Rick Schneider, chair of the Florida Public Broadcasting Service and president of Miami’s WPBT. The Orlando area’s largest PBS station will become a new outlet for the Daystar Television religious broadcasting chain. The buyer is Community Educators of Orlando Inc., based in Texas and headed by Daystar chief exec Marcus Lamb and his wife, Joni Lamb. The nonprofit evangelical Christian broadcaster owns some 70 stations and runs programming on about 80 more.