WLRN’s “Friends” can best lead the public-media station into the future | Opinion

The Miami-Dade County School Board is searching for a new nonprofit to manage WLRN.
The Miami-Dade County School Board is searching for a new nonprofit to manage WLRN. Miami Herald

I am a long-standing South Florida resident and have been an avid listener, viewer and a significant financial supporter of WLRN public radio and television for many years. I have given financial support WLRN’s paid college internship program that will increase the integrity and capability of future budding journalists. I am also a founding member of the Legacy Program, leading by example by making the arrangements now so that my support of WLRN can continue after I am gone.

Public media have a significant impact on our community. WLRN’s mission is direct and straightforward: Make South Florida better by telling the truth through high quality journalism and documentary storytelling.

I was encouraged to hear of the Miami-Dade School Board’s forward-thinking action recently in issuing a request to receive proposals for WLRN’s management. WLRN is a financially healthy and successful enterprise in search of more leadership. It is a nationally recognized leader in journalism and documentary production and has been recognized through dozens of local, regional and national awards.

It is time for the School Board to give WLRN the independence necessary to fully engage with the South Florida community that it so well serves from Key West to Palm Beach, by consolidating with Friends of WLRN, Inc. under a newly established operating entity.

Friends of WLRN is the logical choice to assume day-to-day station management and lead WLRN into the future. Since 1974, Friends has been the fundraising entity for WLRN and understands the significant value and impact its programs and educational services provide to the community. Ensuring the continued financial strength to support WLRN’s future, Friends has proven its capability by successfully raising more than $50 million for the station during the past six years.

Much of WLRN’s success can be attributed to the station and the Friends of WLRN working together in a culture of shared responsibility and trust. Many of the station’s accomplishments were possible because of open and honest communication between the two organizations.

Friends has been working hand-in-hand with station management to support its goals and initiatives such as its recently produced documentary, “Boca Raton — The Secret Weapon that Won WWII,” and soon-to-premiere “Troubled Waters — A Turtle’s Tale,” about the plight of polluted seas on our oceans and sea life.

WLRN’s success is confirmation of community spirit. South Floridians realize that their actions matter and that they, in partnership with institutions such as WLRN, can change their communities for the better.

The Miami-Dade County School Board should create a win-win by helping WLRN pursue its future as South Florida’s most trusted, valued and supported public-media organization.

Lydia Harrison is a WLRN member.