For over five years, I have been writing about Orlando’s wine community and the people and businesses that make it so special. You may have noticed, however, that my posts here on Orlando Wine Blog have been much less frequent lately. I can finally explain why.
Wine has been a passion for many years, and wine writing has been a wonderful avocation, but it’s never been my livelihood. My career has been primarily in public media journalism — first as a reporter, then as a newsroom leader, and for the past eight years as a journalism and content consultant. I’m a passionate advocate for the importance of independent journalism and for the unique role public media plays in America’s journalism landscape. I write about that over on my Scribbles & Scruples blog if you’re interested.
I got my start in public media almost two decades ago right here in Orlando, at our local NPR station, WMFE. In my nearly eight years at the station as a reporter and then as news director, I covered hurricanes, Space Shuttle launches, and local elections; I explored important issues including homelessness, immigration, and transportation; and I reported on fun stuff like weddings at Fort Wilderness and elephant vasectomies at Animal Kingdom (yes, you read that right!).
Last week, a decade after I left the station, I returned in a very different capacity — not as a journalist, but as interim President and General Manager. Stepping up to this leadership position involved a great deal of soul searching. I ultimately came to the conclusion that this is where l can do the most good — both for an organization that means a lot to me and for the Central Florida community that has become my adopted home.
It’s an incredible honor and an awesome responsibility to carry WMFE’s legacy into the future, and at least for right now, it doesn’t leave time for much of anything else. That’s why I’m stepping back from wine blogging for the moment.
But I will say this: if you have appreciated my coverage of Central Florida’s wine scene over the past five years and if you have valued the community connections I’ve tried to foster through this blog, you have experienced the power of local journalism. WMFE’s mission is to provide Central Florida with thoughtful, independent local and regional journalism on a whole range of issues, along with top-notch national and international news from NPR. If you’re not already in our audience, I humbly urge you to check us out.
You can find us on 90.7 FM, wmfe.org, the WMFE app on your phone, and through your smart speaker — just tell it to “Play WMFE.” If you’re a podcast fan, our environment reporter recently produced a great one about Everglades restoration; our space reporter has an ongoing podcast (and radio show) about the latest in space exploration; and our weekly in-depth interview program Intersection is also available as a podcast.
I would be honored to have each of you as an audience member, and I would genuinely value any feedback you’d like to share. Our whole purpose is to serve the community, and to do that, we need to know how you use our service and what you need and want from it. If you’re so inclined, of course I would also be honored to have you as a supporter — and as it happens, we do have a pledge drive coming up soon! (Come on, you didn’t think you’d get through this post without a pitch, did you??!)
On the wine front, don’t worry — I’ll still be supporting our wonderful local wine businesses. Case in point, the photo above is from my quiet celebration on the Digress patio the day I accepted the WMFE position but before it was public. I’m sure I’ll still be sharing favorite wines over on Instagram too. I look forward to seeing my fellow wine lovers out and about and to raising a glass with you soon.