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WNYC Hosts accused of inappropriate behavior, racial insults, bullying

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John Hockenberry, "celebrated" host on WNYC radio accused of making racial insults, sexual harassment and bullying. This continued for nearly 10 years, his contract was finally not renewed in June because of poor on-air performance, not the other charges.





Longtime hosts Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz put on leave for "inappropriate behavior."








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There was an interview yesterday where one former show assistant claimed to have alerted her boss, Brian somebody, about inappropriate touching by a third party. Brian denies hearing the report.


The host in yesterday's show said "I have no idea what the rules are, or who has to be notified". That suggests a failure to communicate clear policies and alternatives for reporting.

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That is terrible.


Creating and maintaining an environment where people do not feel safe does not end well.


One of my former employers ran an annual employee survey. It was a wonderful, thorough survey, with lots of open ended questions. We generally got good marks, and a list of areas where we needed to do better. It was at the department level, with 5-8 people reporting level.


When we were sent a new top boss, things went straight down hill. Golden Boy was embarrassed, his bosses asked questions. The next year, the survey was five or six questions.


Only two people out of 30 said management would always or almost always do the right thing. That was the last year we had a survey...

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  • 2 weeks later...

WNYC leader Laura Walker put out a memo tonight in which she announced Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz have been terminated.


For the interim, an interview show called WNYC at Midday will replace Mr Lopate's show. And temporary host Paul Cavalconte will handle the weekend slots.

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I received an email, too. It was sent to the address at which I get the daily summary.


The NY Daily News indicated that these hosts failed to respect the professional boundaries established by the station. Mr Schwartz disputed that, in a short statement.

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Former WNYC news reporter makes several serious charges.


---contract workers encouraged to work off the clock, in excess of allowed hours

---staff up was on the non-union, digital side

---business plan called for cycling dozens of interns in, per diems, 1099 contractors

---Takeaway was outrageously expensive, "borrowed" from other accounts

---No interest in pursuing complaints about Hockenberry

---Board showed contempt for any members who showed up at a "public" meeting


Interesting reading from an insider with a point of view



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  • 3 weeks later...

I received my third piece of WNYC direct mail in just over a week. This one asked me to resume sustaining member status.


So I called to tell WNYC to take it out of Laura Walker's paycheck. Not the slightest bit interested in anything after I said I wouldn't be donating today.


Thank you for your support, please call member services. Goodbye. Click.

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It's a puzzlement: Would I rather show solidarity with all those who have been hurt, and lose my most important source of news? Or support my news habit and look as though I have no sympathy?


My own preference is to have a station which treats its contributing members as respected partners, and respects its employees / associates / contractors / interns, etc. The Bob Hennelly piece linked above suggests that only a very few connected people were respected.

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