|$$$ Michael Peyton, |
Friend$ of WLRN $$$
Last month Miami New Times staff writer Michael Miller reported that...
However, not everyone connected with WLRN was affected by the cuts. One of those, I reported, is WLRN's general manager, John Labonia.Miami-Dade County Public Schools and [the school board-owned radio station] WLRN are both making serious cuts to part-time employee hours, supposedly because of Obamacare.
The cutback will affect "several hundred" school employees, including substitute teachers, custodians, and security guards, according to an MDCPS spokesman. Also seeing their hours slashed are part-time WLRN employees, some of whom are paid by the school district.
Labonia, it turns out, lives in a half-million dollar home in Weston.
Meanwhile, WLRN staffers are struggling to make ends meet.
And, this morning, New Times' Michael Miller is reporting that Michael Peyton, the director of corporate marketing for Friends of WLRN, the private, non-profit entity that raises money for WLRN, "pulls in $400,000 a year."
According to his Linkedin profile, Peyton has been with WLRN for 20 years.
UPDATED at 2:35 p.m: A June, 2010 post on Current.org reported:
During a January meeting, [Miami-Dade school superintendent Alberto] Carvalho described compensation for Friends’ employees as “tantamount to insulting” in light of school salaries and the system’s budget problems, according to minutes.
"Carvalho didn’t identify the employees he referred to, but cited compensation detailed on the nonprofit’s tax returns. Michael Peyton, a senior sales rep who receives a commission for sales performance, earned more than $315,000 in 2007. Rick Lewis and Patrick Harris, a corporate sales rep, earned more than $120,000 each, according to the nonprofit’s tax returns.
Carvalho also objected that the Friends staff rebuffed his requests for financial statements and other documents and disregarded his concerns about a proposed change to the nonprofit’s bylaws, according to the minutes. [Editor's note: Carvalho's concerns were never reported on by the Miami Herald.]
"He makes that kind of money on the backs of other people," a WLRN staffer told Miller.
From Miller's New Times piece:
The discrepancy in pay is just one symptom of the strange relationship between WLRN and its fundraiser. "They are two separate, very distinct organizations," says Miami-Dade Schools spokesman John Schuster. "They have separate structures with distinct purposes, although at times their missions do overlap."In other words, if you're a WLRN listener, and you pledge money to the station, Peyton and his cronies keep a huge chunk of your money for themselves.
Few donors realize the difference. When WLRN holds a telethon, money donated doesn't go directly to the station. Instead, it belongs to Friends of WLRN, which can keep as much of it as it likes.
New Times' Miller writes: "According to [Miami-Dade Schools spokesman John] Schuster, Friends contributes roughly $5.2 million to the radio station each year. Records show Friends spent nearly $1.8 million in salaries in 2011 -- the last year available -- including $700,000 for just three execs."
Meanwhile, a post on WLRN's website says that Friends of WLRN's "revenues for the current year are projected to reach $10 million."
UPDATE #2: See chart below to learn how your pledge money to WLRN is being spent.
|Source: Division of Consumer Services,|
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
So what does Peyton do with his handsome salary?
According to the Miami-Dade property appraiser's website, he owns a very nice home in the King's Bay neighborhood of Coral Gables.
His home, according to a real estate website, "is a single-family home with 5 bedrooms, 2 baths, and approximately 3,545 square feet. The average listing price for similar homes for sale [in the neighborhood] is $1,287,443 and the average sales price for similar recently sold homes is $900,750."
Earlier this month, Daniel Ricker, publisher of the "Watchdog Report," wrote this of Friends on his website:
School Board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman sponsored legislation that would require updates on “the actions and status of Friends [of WLRN] to members of the school board quarterly."
Friends, the not for profit entity’s revenues are “projected to reach $10 million,” in contributions and corporate funding states the legislation heard at one of the board’s committees Wednesday.If you're a news junkie, like me, by now you're probably asking yourself, "Why hasn't the Miami Herald, or the Herald's school board reporter, David Smiley, reported any of this?
Hantman, the longest [serving] member on the school board noted that there “had been some questions” about what was going on over at Friends over the years. She said the fund raising arm for WLRN radio and television with 500,000 weekly listeners from Palm Beach to Key West has “always been a mystery,” and to this day, she thought Friends “still is a mystery.” [See excerpt from Jan. 15, 2014 school board meeting embedded at the bottom of this post.]
Answer: Because they're M.I.A. (Missing in Action.)
A search of the Miami Herald archives turned up zero results for Michael Peyton, or any critical reporting on WLRN, for that matter.
broke the news in 2003 of the impending WLRN/Miami Herald partnership.)
Today the Herald and WLRN "work together through a partnership, but the news director works for South Florida Public Media, under the umbrella of WLRN," Herald managing editor Rick Hirsch told me last July.
And what that means is that you, as a news consumer, will almost never see anything negative written about WLRN in the pages of the Herald.
Example: In a Herald story published last November, Herald staffer Nancy Dahlberg wrote of "leadership changes" at WLRN.
Dahlberg wrote that Terence Shepherd had been appointed as the station's news director. What Dahlberg conveniently left out of her story was that Shepherd was replacing Dan Grech, who had been fired under mysterious circumstances just a few months earlier, something the Herald never reported.
It will be interesting to see if school board chairman Hantman follows up on her desire to learn more about the "mysterious" Friends of WLRN.
But whatever happens, I'm fairly certain you won't read about any of it in the pages of the Miami Herald.