Tuesday, January 21, 2014

With 'Friends' like these....

Michael Peyton,
director of corporate
Friends of WLRN
Your contribution enables us to bring you the best in national and local programs, because all of the programs you love require significant investments on our part. Our national program schedules bring you the best from NPR, PBS, APM, PRI and others, but we pay high annual fees to obtain these programs on your behalf. Your direct financial support is essential.
When you make a contribution to Channel 17 or 91.3 WLRN, your funds have a direct and immediate impact on programming. Your support enables the continuous growth of the station to meet the challenges of technology and opportunity. And that's not the only reason to become a partner in our progress.  -About Friends of WLRN - wlrn.org


Alberto Carvalho,
County Schools
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 also objected that the Friends [of WRLN] 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.  -Gov’t officials critical of nonprofit Friends units, June 21, 2010 - via current.org


It's been exactly four years since Miami-Dade schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho characterized the salaries of key personnel at Friends of WLRN, the non-profit fundraising arm of the school board-owned radio station, as “tantamount to insulting."

So, what's happened in the four years since he made those remarks?


Yesterday, Miami New Times staff writer Michael Miller reported that Michael Peyton, the director of corporate marketing for Friends, makes something in the neighborhood of $400,000 a year.

Now, Random Pixels has obtained IRS forms filed by Friends of WLRN that reveal Peyton and several of his colleagues at Friends have been paying themselves hefty salaries for quite some time.

Below, I've embedded IRS Form 990 filed by Friends beginning with the year 2009.

They make for interesting reading. Especially if you're a regular contributor to WLRN.

If you're a little pressed for time, you can see the juicy parts by scrolling down to Part VII of each form.

For instance Part VII, page 7 (see first embedded form) shows that Peyton's compensation for 2011 was $387,452.

Two of Peyton's colleagues, Jorge Perez-Alvarez and Patrick Harris, each made $145,772 and $146,203, respectively. (Who knew that working for a non-profit could be so profitable?)

Part IX, page 10 of the same form reveals some other interesting numbers. Page 10 (see partial screen shot below) is the section for listing something called "functional expenses."

It's in this section we also learn that the total compensation for that year, for "current officers, directors, trustees, and key employees" was an astounding $797,799.

In the space for "other salaries and wages" (line 7) we find the number $967,783. There's no breakdown of which employees at Friends got what part of that 967 thousand.

On line 9, we learn that Friends paid $164,852 for "other employee benefits."

Line 11g is reserved for expenses simply labeled "other." How much did Friends of WLRN pay for "other?" $195,394.

Total "functional expenses" for the year are listed at $7,935,297. It's unclear how much of that was used to pay for programming.

Transparency, as Superintendent Carvalho pointed out four years ago, is not Friends' strong suit.

I followed up on Mike Miller's New Times post yesterday, with a post of my own.

Today, I received this note from a reader, who is also prominent member of the community:
The “Friends of WLRN” raise money under, essentially, false pretenses — under the auspices of public radio and television programming — and then use that cash donated by the public to, among other things, pay pensions to their 14 employees. Meanwhile, the staff at the station, who the “Friends” are ostensibly raising the money for, are getting their hours cut so they don’t have to be provided any benefits. With “Friends” like these…

In my post, I also questioned why the Miami Herald has reported nothing on this. Almost immediately, one South Florida journalist sent this email:
Definitely interesting reading. Shameful that no one at the Herald is professional enough to say, we have to do this story and let the chips fall where they may.

WLRN IRS Form 990 (2011-2012)
Click here to enlarge.


  1. It's about time someone reported on this.

  2. Thank you so much for doing this piece! I will sure to spread the info around! Something has to be said about this!!!

  3. This is astounding information. How does this compare or contrast to other NPR-affiliated non-profit radio stations? I listen and support the station, but had no idea of the ratio of money contributed, to salaries, and how the working staff have been cut back. This compels further investigation and reportage in all the media. What are the station's responses (past, and present)?

  4. Great reporting! However the "friends" are too well connected and sadly nothing will happen. The people who donate never end up reading or believing this.


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