Brooklyn-born Ed LaFumee began his radio career at Plant City’s WPLA in 1962, but not as a staff announcer – at least not at first. He was “Sundown Ed,” a gentle, soft-spoken man who entertained his radio audience on a live 15-minute program called Song Stylings with Ed LaFumee. Each Sunday afternoon he would arrive at the station and set up in the live studio in front of the microphone, play his guitar, and sing all types of songs – country, pop and even church hymns. Many times his young son, Barry Lee, would come to the studio with him and sing, too.
One of Ed’s most memorable moments was during a show in 1963 when the studio door opened and in walked RCA recording artist and country legend Hank Snow who was in the area to perform at the Florida State Fair in Tampa. It was a time Ed would never forget. WPLA’s General Manager, George Friend, was on the phone in seconds telling the control room engineer to “forget about the 15 minute time limit. Let Ed run the show as long as he wants.”
In 1965, after he took the test for his FCC third-class broadcast license at the urging of Friend, the station rewarded Ed with a shift on the weekends and some occasional fill-in work. He really loved that work, too, so much so that it was the late 1970’s before he left his position there.
But he missed WPLA and WPLA missed him. In 1984, again at the request of management, he was offered work at the station hosting his own Sunday gospel music program, Gospel Now, and producing the popular weekday morning show This ‘n That with Al Berry and Ercelle Smith.
In 1990, Ed left the station a second time after Berry and Smith sold WPLA to new owners who dropped the gospel music and instituted a pop music format. However, he and his wife, Lenise, continued to make their home in nearby Lakeland and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in the spring of 2004.
On October 10th, 2008, Ed passed away from heart failure at Lakeland Regional Medical Center at the age of 90.
1962 - 1990 WPLA (On Air Personality)