Go to Law School, or Start a Radio Station?

9 Nov

Rob Lorei, News & Public Affairs Director at WMNF-FM of Tampa, Fla.

TAMPA, Fla. – Rob Lorei, news and public affairs director for WMNF-FM, a community radio station in Tampa, has learned many lessons and had many successes during his career in radio, but he never intended to be where he is today.

Lorei, originally from Erie, Penn., attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, in the late 1970s with the plan to go on to law school. As a result of a recession during that time, Lorei found himself at a dead end.

Lorei says, “In 1978 I heard about a job, here in Tampa, starting a radio station and I thought, ‘Well, I can’t afford law school at this point,’ so I figured I’d come down.” With five years of experience working at his college’s radio station, Lorei wasn’t completely in the dark.

But working in radio was completely unintended. “Kind of a diversion,” he said.

In co-founding WMNF, Lorei hoped to “give a voice to the voiceless.” He says, “It’s important to listen to the politicians who have been elected, but it’s also important to listen to the people who challenge them.”

Lorei’s career in radio journalism also has afforded him the opportunity to meet such people as former President Jimmy Carter, as well as Florida’s outgoing Gov. Charlie Crist.

One of the most important lessons Lorei has learned in his career is not to jump to conclusions. He says, “There aren’t just two sides to every issue. Sometimes there are three and four sides.”

Lorei says, “Another lesson that I have learned, too, is that a lot of people can be misled pretty easily by what’s said on radio or TV.” He believes a lot of responsibility goes along with a career in radio and television journalism, he that is something he takes seriously.

Lorei explains that mass communications students are expected to be good listeners and good observers. He says, “Everything’s changing, and you’re going to be asked to be a multitasker. So you should be able to edit audio and edit video, you should be able to write well. You should be able to do research, and you should be able to be a critical thinker.”

Lorei says, “My best advice is to go work for a newspaper.” He explained that the best reporters, the most skeptical and hardest working, are those who got their start at a newspaper because they know how to do the best research.

Here is a clip of my face-to-face interview with Mr. Lorei. Here he gives some advice for current mass communications students:


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