Feb 3, 2011

Rick Lewis quits WLRN Friends after friction with licensee

Updated, Feb. 7: Rick Lewis, c.e.o. of the fundraising group Friends of WLRN for nearly seven years, will step down at the end of February. Jorge Perez-Alvarez, c.f.o. of the Friends group, will serve as interim chief executive.

Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County public schools, which owns WLRN-TV/FM, has objected to the independence of the nonprofit Friends group, which raises funds for the stations, and complained about the six-figure compensation of underwriting sales reps for the Friends group (Current, June 21).

The Friends board has given Carvalho a voice in appointing Lewis’s successor, which he wanted. Friends Chair Charles Tatelbaum told Current that both he and the superintendent will appoint members of the search committee. He said misinformation about the Friends group had been given to the superintendent, but that had been resolved.

Since Lewis joined the private nonprofit, its annual revenues have grown nearly 60 percent. “Rick announced to the board that he felt he had completed most, if not all, of his goals with our organization, and decided that he wanted to explore new opportunities,” said Tatelbaum.

“Our relationship with the school district licensee has been recently transformed, and Friends looks forward to further developing and expanding its working relationship with the superintendent, as well as members of the Miami-Dade School Board,” Tatelbaum said. “Although the decision to accept Rick’s resignation has been bittersweet, as an organization, Friends is the beneficiary of Rick’s superb leadership.”

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