Rob Lorei out as news director at Tampa’s WMNF radio station
Rob Lorei has been reinstated as WMNF's News and Public Affairs Director more than one month after he was abruptly fired.

rob-lorei
The station gave no reason for the firing.

WMNF community radio in Tampa has ousted long-time news director Rob Lorei.

In a Facebook blurb posted Monday, the station noted it “has ended its long-running relationship with News Director Rob Lorei. We are deeply grateful to Rob for all he has done for WMNF.

“Rob is one of the co-founders of WMNF and has represented the station well in the community over the years. We wish Rob well in all his future endeavors.”

The station gave no reason for the action, but Lorei told Florida Politics that station General Manager Craig Kopp said the firing was partly due to low ratings, particularly in the 1-3 p.m. time slot.

“About three weeks ago I got a list of eight things Craig thought were wrong with news and public affairs programming,” he said. “I disagreed with seven of those eight points. He said I wasn’t supervising (reporters), which is just not true. He said I wasn’t posting on Facebook enough, which probably is true. But we were also working with half the staff we had before and I was trying to organize the shows. I’m essentially being fired for low ratings, which is part of (Kopp’s) responsibility.

“Their (news) release tried to make it seem like we parted ways or something, but he fired me. He gave me 15 minutes to leave the building. That’s not a very nice way to end 40 years at the station.”

Lorei attended a meeting on Monday night with the station’s board of directors and asked for an independent hearing on this decision. A decision on that is pending.

“There were about 30 supporters there and 29 of them spoke on my behalf,” he said. “I feel optimistic that the board will listen to the hundreds of people who posted online and those who showed up on just a few hours notice to support me.”

Lorei is one of the most recognizable personalities in the Tampa Bay market. He will continue to host the political roundtable “Florida This Week” on WEDU television. It is the longest-running news and political affairs program in Central Florida.

WMNF, which was founded in 1979, is commercial free and largely supported by listeners. They love its eclectic mix of news, public affairs shows, and music.

On Facebook, the radio station said, “WMNF news will continue on a path of creating a newsroom for the 21st Century, a multi-platform community resource for information about local issues and how national and international issues affect the Tampa Bay area.”

It promised a national search for a replacement.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


30 comments

  • Scott Bitterli

    February 18, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    Wow! This is really sad to hear. The quality of the Public Affairs shows has suffered over the past year or so. I hope Rob and WMNF can find a more positive solution.

  • Tom Palmer

    February 18, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    Content matters more than platforms. I spent 45 years in the news business. Rob has developed over the years into a real professional. I’m sorry this happened.

  • ed keen

    February 18, 2019 at 10:55 pm

    The wrong person was fired. I will stop my monthly donations.

  • Bubba

    February 18, 2019 at 11:02 pm

    This article has an error- it says 1-3 pm, but should say 10 am to 2 pm.

  • Carlinda Pierce

    February 19, 2019 at 4:27 am

    My personal opinion is that jealousy is involved.Mr kopp knows how Rob is loved and he (kopp) lacks the following.I will not send my donation.Get Rob back or this station will suffer. Remember…we the people own it.

  • Henry

    February 19, 2019 at 6:20 am

    Rob Lorei is truly a pro’s pro and a very fair and intelligent person. He’s an asset to and the foundation of this station! Firing him is about the dumbest thing WMNF could do. They’ll be getting a call from me. And probably no more donations either.

  • Lisa and Brock

    February 19, 2019 at 7:52 am

    This is sad news. So many problems as ‘the press’ tries to reinvent itself for modern times. Rob was always a professional and covered important topics.

  • Carlene Cobb

    February 19, 2019 at 7:58 am

    Bad call, Kopp. Lorei is a pro besides being one of the station’s co-founders and a dedicated and integral voice for the community and the station. Listener support will suffer as a result of this this blunder if the board of directors fail to fix it.

  • Krunkman

    February 19, 2019 at 8:06 am

    88.5 wmnf is the Frontline face of gentrification of the African Community. Rob lorei is the human face to that gentrification. Imagine a Progressive liberal radio station located inside the heart of East Tampa or the heart of the African Community and that station dispelling The Voice of sister Connie Burton, Who is the natural spokesperson for the African Community and the poor and working-class. Rob lorei, the Tampa Police Department and the petit bourgeois Uncle Tom and Aunt Jemima’s was very instrumental in the removal of sister Connie Burton from the radio station. Maybe it is a place for him at the radio station in the future but it should also be full accommodations for sister Connie Burton because she is The Voice of the African Community throughout the Bay Area and specifically the voice of East Tampa where this white radio station is located. I personally think that the firing or termination of Rob lorei has presented an opportunity to reignite the conversation of the rehiring of sister Connie Burton and the restitution of her beloved Sunday Morning Show.

    • Athena Taverna

      February 22, 2019 at 2:27 am

      Wow, you are one angry person. I heard this kind of hateful spewing against anything that can even be remotely linked to Whites, back in the late sixties, from The Black Panther Movement. This kind of tirade never worked and never will.

  • Steve Krall

    February 19, 2019 at 9:28 am

    I don’t always agree with Rob….well in fact hardly ever. 🙂 But I listened to him because he was a real professional. Did his job extremely well. What a sham…I mean shame.

  • Inez Verhagen

    February 19, 2019 at 10:09 am

    This is shocking and more to the story than we know. Something else is going on here. I’ve listened to WMNF, volunteered and totally respect Rob since I moved here in 1995. He is a professional, thoughtful, calm voice on local radio and tv. This is unjust and he needs to be reinstated in his position by the board.

  • Phyllis Shaffer

    February 19, 2019 at 2:30 pm

    This is just wrong. Rob Lorei is the heart of WMNF and the main reason I listen and contribute. Kopp is an idiot and I don’t listen to him when he’s on the air. He’s very offensive. If Rob’s gone, I’m gone along with my support. Country has gone to hell and now one of the greatest little radio stations. Here I come Pandora & Sirius! Bye Bye WMNF!

  • ed

    February 19, 2019 at 2:45 pm

    I have know Rob for 13 years. My wife worked with his brother at Bryn Mawr hospital. He is a good man.
    Kopp is given a pass when called an idiot. General Managers come and go. Some good, some pathetic, Kopp would be the latter. I will wait to see how this plays out before withdrawing my support.

  • Brian

    February 19, 2019 at 3:34 pm

    Removing Rob Lorei from his position abruptly will turn out to be the biggest mistake WMNF (the board) makes if it allows Kopp to get his way. The very public, embarrassing, and abrupt removal of him is shameful. I know that I will keep my donation dollars away from WMNF and hope that the board will reinstate Rob to right this wrong.

    • Brian Wilson

      February 19, 2019 at 4:15 pm

      Also just wanted to add. Don’t bother commenting on WMNF website about this. They’ve been censoring comments and removing comments more critical of the station for this move.

  • Bradley Arthur

    February 19, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    Rob, the ♡ & soul of listener supported, non-commercial “Truth/Radio” is more important then ratings or Facebook posts. If the WMNF board doesn’t look deeper or they have been reduced to a ratings driven corporate mentality, everything the station stood for is lost. As an artist and avid supporter, promoter and committed global citizen who seeks authentic alternative news and a broader discussion on social, political and environmental issues. Mr.
    Lorei is THE go to professional unequaled in his character and his role as news director. I respectfully submit that Rob maintain his employment and position at the station for the good of the unique place here in Tampa Bay as well as anywhere else in America, the last local station WMNF represents for commercial free entertainment and alternative information.

  • Jim Gregor

    February 19, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    Called John (Ex Ses) today and added my displeasure. Went on FB… added my displeasure. WENT SCREAMING TO THE GARAGE… voiced my displeasure, displeasure at what? Well, the dictatorial, chest thumping, because I can, disrespectful and despicable, power grabbing way the most respected man in the business was “dispersed” after 40 years like garbage, like McCabe a day before his 30 year retirement. We are family, and you DON’T treat family like that and remain family. One has to go, one has to be made whole! This episode has damaged WMNF’s credibility, healing will only be made right with the resignation of Mr. K! Sorry, majority of the family feels the same.

  • Jeff in NPR

    February 19, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    So Craig fired Rob for low ratings, particularly in the 1-3 slot. LOL. That’s when Craig’s brain child is on. Liberalsim is never as Hillaryous as when they start to eat their own…

  • David Varney

    February 19, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    Kopp has a lot of balls to fire Rob right after the fundraiser! I’ll give it a few days before withdrawal of our circle of friends support and hope this rights itself, fourty year listener.

    • ed

      February 19, 2019 at 8:41 pm

      Kopp had no morals. No class. He needs to go.

  • Jennifer Heller

    February 19, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    I have listened to the station all day at work hoping to get insight about this horrible decision. I will wait to hear the reason for this abrupt firing tomorrow at 1:06pm when we will hear from Kopp. I am a 39 year listener and looked forward to Robs show every day. I am not happy.

  • Liz

    February 20, 2019 at 6:12 am

    Rob Lorei is the force behind the station and the main reason I fell in love with 88.5 thirty years ago. This is like the Patriots firing Brady because he’s getting a little slow. Why is Kopp undermining our only local radio station this way? Kopp needs to be shown the door before he cuts the station down at its knees like the Kochs and their associates are trying to do to this country.

  • Tammy Smith

    February 20, 2019 at 6:20 am

    Very upset by this news Rob does not deserve this treatment. I want him back

  • Les-n-Brooksville

    February 20, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    I’m shocked! In my humble opinion Rob Lorei ‘is’ WMNF. Craig Kopp should be fired! He’s not “generally managing this radio station”, he’s destroying it! If Craig’s idea of quality radio journalism is shows like Executive Session, which he takes credit for, he is delusional! Has he checked this show’s ratings? It stinks! Rob Lorei is a Tampa Bay icon and well loved and respected. Craig Kopp,? Please help us and WMNF! I AM RESCINDING MY PLEDGE AND FUTURE PLEDGES UNTIL CRAIG IS GONE AND ROB RETURNS WITH THE HONOR HE DESERVES!!!

    • ed

      February 20, 2019 at 2:13 pm

      Hip, hip.
      Kopp must go.

  • Sarah

    February 21, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    How are ratings measured when the station hasn’t paid for them in years! It’s sad that the station only looks at on-air fundraising dollars and not the value of their people. Poor stewardship indeed.

  • guy deloach

    February 21, 2019 at 5:06 pm

    I am a long time listener and supporter nothing good as happened since Craig Kopp has come aboard for sure the wrong man got fired if the board thinks that disappointing the core group of supporters will go and noticed your sadly mistaken come fund drive time… reverse course before it is too late or you may not be the board of anything

  • DONALD JONES

    February 24, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    I very seldom on anything, but when I tuned into 88.5 to hear Rob Lorei and heard Thom Hartman I was a bit surprised. Then I found out that Rob Lorei was gone. I was so angry. I was never a fan of Craig Kopp when he’s on the Executive Session, and I got turned off by John Gilmore talking over upset callers trying to voice their concern and disappointments of the way Rob was let go. I am withdrawing my financial support of WMNF until Rob is back on this station.

  • Jo Bertloff

    March 2, 2019 at 8:39 am

    I’ve waited to post thinking cooler heads would prevail. Rob Lorei’s ‘voice of reason’ dismissed in lieu of Kopp’s ‘game show host’ voice makes no sense to me.
    I’ve always supported this station and felt good about it. Now I just feel terribly sad.
    Please bring Rob back.

Comments are closed.


#FlaPol

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Daniel Figueroa, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Mike Wright, and Tristan Wood.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704




Sign up for Sunburn


Categories