Rob Lorei (pronounced LOR-eye) is one of Tampa Bay’s longest-running political voices and one of the last of the WMNF founding staffers still at the station full time. From a close, conservative Erie, Pennsylvania Catholic family and the oldest of 10 children, he got his start in radio as a reporter for the Antioch College NPR station, WYSO. Back then, he held a variety of other jobs, too (Pepsi truck delivery driver, law clerk, staffer for the Miami Black Lung Association, and video documentary maker), before being awarded his BA in journalism in 1977.
The following year, Rob saw an ad asking for help starting a community radio station in Tampa, packed his bags for the trip south, and went door-to-door for asking for donations. Back then he was around 24 years old and only made about $65 a week – a far cry from the wages he draws today which are in excess of $42,000 a year. In 2001, he took the moderator’s seat of “Tampa Bay Week” on Tampa Bay’s PBS station WEDU and guided the program to its new title and format, “Florida This Week,” serving as the show’s managing editor.
In his many years covering politics in West Central Florida, Rob has moderated numerous televised political debates, including the 2002 attorney general’s race, the 2003 Tampa mayoral race, the 2004 U.S. Senate primaries, and the 2006 gubernatorial primaries. He’s also interviewed hundreds of political notables including Tampa mayors Pam Iorio and Dick Greco, Gov. Charlie Crist, Bill Moyers, former President Jimmy Carter, Ralph Nader, Janet Reno, Al Franken, Sen. Bob Graham, and John Dean.
After 40 years at the station, more than 20 of them as news and public affairs director, Rob was fired in February 2019 by station manager Craig Kopp. Fortunately, following an outcry from area listeners, the station co-founder and host of midday’s “Radioactivity” was re-instated by WMNF’s board of directors in late March 2019.
In April 2021, Lorei was let go a second time with the two parties disagreeing on the circumstances. The host says he was fired without explanation. Management says he was informed of the reason by the GM and a member of the board and that it's up to him to decide if he wants to publicly disclose it.
1978 - 2021 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (News)