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Mitch Perry discusses the importance of the WMNF Evening News, and why he’s departing

Mitch Perry about about 5 years ago

Recently I spoke with former Brandon State Senator Tom Lee about the troubles that journalism, and specifically the newspaper industry, has been suffering from in recent years.

He seemed genuinely anguished that the people in the Tampa Bay Area have been hurt by the dismantling of resources at some of our major media institutions. If you recall, late last year the Tampa Tribune wrote an editorial denying reports that it would be going out of business after this year's Super Bowl. Though there are no such fears over at the St. Petersburg Times, we’ve seen the pages in its Metro section diminish in recent years.

The newspaper industry has been devastated by the drop in advertising revenue over the past few years. Because we don’t rely on advertising (other than about 5% of our budget), WMNF has been immune from such a decline.

But we’re certainly not recession proof, and our fund raising marathons have been a challenge in recent years, because of what’s happening to people here in the local economy.

I write that to tell you what I’m sure you already know: that it’s vital that we maintain as much as we can of WMNF’s News & Public Affairs programming, and in particular, the Evening News.

As you may have heard, I’ll be, as the phrase goes, ‘stepping down’ on September 18th as the Assistant News Director and Anchor and Managing Editor of the Evening News, to work as the News and Politics Editor at Creative Loafing.

Working at WMNF has been the center of my life for nearly 9 ½ years, and the decision to leave this great experiment in community radio was not easy.

But I’m excited about taking what I’ve learned over the years here and tackling a new medium.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you listeners, who have supported me, and more importantly, supported the Evening News since it’s inception in 2003.

I’d like to think that it’s made an impact, a difference, in media coverage in this community. We’ve worked long and hard at it over the years, and it must survive to ensure that you’re able to make informed choices of your world, by getting what some call an alternative flip to commercial and mainstream media.

In that respect, Creative Loafing is another extension of that. I hope that those who have followed me at MNF, will continue to do so at my new endeavor. I’ll be writing in the paper regularly, but also blogging a lot at the paper’s website, and doing podcasts and the like. And hopefully, some of the work I do there may still make it over here to WMNF.

Because I’m not competing with the station. Just as this area needs good newspapers, it needs a good alternative newsweekly.

And it definitely needs to maintain what it’s been lucky to have for the past 30 years, and that is a vibrant, exciting radio station that many places in the country do NOT have. And it’s made it because of your support – some of that financially.

It’s not a cliché when you hear during our marathons how we can’t make it work without you – it won’t stay around, period. These are tough economic times, and thus they require good reporting to keep everybody honest.

I want to thank the folks at WMNF who decided to take a chance on me after they met me back in January of 2000. I’d like to think I’ve made some difference in this town with the show. I hope you continue to listen to the Evening News and support it.

(Listeners can hear my description of how the Evening News came to be at 6:50PM this Friday night on the Evening News).

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Comments

Good Journalism will stay in the Bay

Mitch, I wish all the success to you at CL. What a great place to be working. WMNF will miss a spectacular professional but I'm grateful that your work will stay in the Tampa Bay area. This area particularly has benefited from the perspective that you have always provided to your listeners. And now I look forward to reading about it.

It's a good move for you

We'll miss your insightful reporting and well-executed newscasts but hope that you will enjoy your new direction at CL, which is also a beloved Tampa institution and reinventing itself in seminal ways. Newspapers are not dead - like everything else the only sure thing in life is that change will happen. If thoughtful, creative, progressive minded people like yourself are helping to move Tampa's news media forward, the Tampa Bay community will support it. You are in good company, you know - Steve Hammill, former host of the 11th Hour is there.

none

Have become a recent regular fan of Creative Loafing! You will be a great addition to a team that seems to be reinventing itself. Congratulations, look forward to reading your reports.

You Will Be Missed! The Best to You Going Forward

Mitch, thanks for all your hard work and dedication to get the WMNF Evening News up and running. When you applied for the position, I felt you were the person who could do that - and fortunately, Jean Palmquist shared that view. Thanks to Vicki for her courage to move ahead with the news program while we were still so cramped in the old building. You are leaving a terrific legacy! We wish you the best in your new digs!

Thanks

That's it Thank You very much for Your Time and Quality!

Good Luck and Please Come Back

Thank you so much for the evening news--it is vital to my life. The up side of this is that perhaps now Mitch you can come back and fill in on a music show--I always love the music you pick out!

concerned middle of the road citzen

mitch...great job...you ask the correct questions....and you get answers...sometimes the turth...no matter being you and being with wmnf...you keep them on thier toes..we were lucky to have you....we'll miss you...wmnf...you and many others there...do the job(s) that so many want to do....stand up...and do what is correct....for all living things....but like me... have feathers and a beak...but here is hopeing that will change...because of people like you reporting straight forward and turthful news..(you are a rare breed)...so that we can make...man or women ...(the ones with the thumbs)...can make some sense about what is going on and where we stand...i know that wmnf evening news will continue... it is so very important...unforetunateiy without you.. thanks again mitch...hope to meet you one day...good luck and good health...and cl is the lucky one now

Clouds and Silver Linings

It is nice to see you get the job at GL. Even though they are owned by Atlanta, they still focus on alternative news. I do hope this is not the end of your WMNF, because, as nice as the GL folks are, they are subject to profit like everyone else, and the main reason WMNF can still be a local news source is because it is not driven by profits. Keep them honest Mitch, and use your new bully pulpit to get a bigger voice, we need it more than ever.

The sound of the evening news

You do excellent work. CL is so lucky to have you as they reinvent and reorganize themselves. There are so many opportunities ahead of you, and your work is vital in whatever form it takes. This community needs you, and I will look forward to reading your first article/column. WMNF loses a lot when you go, but, hopefully, those that come behind you will carry the mantle of truly free speech and speak truth to power. Maybe the landscape changes, but the voices remain strong in whatever form they take. Keep it coming....

You will be missed!

Mitch we will certainly miss your voice of truth in the evenings. You have been such a rock for Tampa Bay. We look forward to reading your columns in CL.

Thanks and Good Luck with your new endeavor

Mitch: Thanks for all the good reporting that you did for WMNF for the past few years. Glad to see that you'll still be in the area. I know that you'll do a great job for CL. THANKS!

It won't be the same without you

Mitch, you have always been a special and extraordinary voice on WMNF. Good luck.

listener supporter

Mitch, Thanks so much for all your hard work taking the WMNF News Dept. to the next level. What you (and all the volunteers) have done by creating and expanding the WMNF Evening News has given the station a bigger presence in the community and served us by covering stories that would not otherwise have been covered. The training you have provided to so many new reporters is invaluable to the fabric of the Tampa Bay journalism scene. I'm sure you will continue to bring that kind of energy and creative ideas to CL. Good choice on their part.

Continue the good work

Many thanks for building the Evening News to what it has become, an important voice in the Tampa Bay community. I trust MNF will continue in the same vain, critical news analysis. The show has become so useful to me that I changed my work schedule so I can stay until 6pm and listen to the show on the drive home. Best regards to you Mitch, continue the good work.