Saturday, August 8, 2020

D-C Radio: WAMU GM EXITS Over Toxic Work Environment

The general manager of Washington, D.C.'s NPR affiliate announced Friday in an email to staff that he is stepping down amid allegations of fostering a toxic work environment at the station.

The Hill reports JJ Yore, who served as WAMU general manager for the past six years, was reportedly pushed to resign after an investigative report last week in the DCist, a site owned by WAMU.

The story included claims surrounding Yore’s handling of misconduct and allegations against former transportation reporter Martin Di Caro, who served in the position from 2012-2017.

“This has been a very difficult decision for me,” Yore wrote in the email to staff on Friday, according to The Washington Post. “However, as I have looked back on the past months, I realize that I have not led the station through recent events in a way that has earned and maintained your trust and that trust is essential to our mutual success and to the success of WAMU.

"I regret the sense that I have let you down which is why I feel I must now step aside," he added.

J J Yore
American University holds the license to WAMU.

The school announced that an investigative task force looking into the allegations made by multiple women at the station will be led by WAMU’s chief content officer Monna Kashfi, as well as two other WAMU officials, the DCist reported.

The university also launched an investigation in July around WAMU managing editor Zuri Berry. The inquiry was launched after three women of color indicated they left their positions at the station because of unpleasant interactions with Berry, according to a report last week by, a nonprofit news service covering media.

Since Yore’s tenure started in 2014, the WAMU newsroom has nearly doubled, membership has grown by a third, and station revenue has increased by 70 percent, according to WAMU. He also oversaw the acquisition of DCist in 2018 and the launch of “1A,” the successor to “The Diane Rehm Show,” which is syndicated to more than 300 public radio stations.

WAMU has 70,000 contributing members. It had received “many” inquiries about the harassment allegations, but as of midweek, fewer than 10 have canceled their continuing contributions, according to WAMU spokeswoman Diane Hockenberry.

American University also  announced the following additional personnel and administrative changes at WAMU:
  • During the next four to six weeks, an interim general manager will be identified and installed.
  • The station will add an HR employee relations consultant who has proven experience in improving organizational culture and creating inclusive workplaces. The consultant will assess past practices within WAMU and between WAMU and AU and provide recommendations on new structures.
  • Monna Kashfi, WAMU’s interim chief content officer, is being named the permanent chief content officer. Kashfi will oversee the WAMU and DCist newsrooms and all programs, podcasts, and content-related activities.
  • The Leadership Team will undergo diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism training. This training will then be expanded to other managers and staff.
  • A task force will be established immediately to review the culture and make recommendations. It will be chaired by the chief content officer, together with two other leaders who will be identified in the coming days. The task force will include staff representatives from across the organization. Following the conclusion of the task force’s work, a search for a permanent general manager will be launched.
  • The new AU assistant vice president for equity and Title IX, scheduled to start by the beginning of September, will conduct listening sessions with WAMU staff.
  • The existing WAMU working group on social media practices will continue its work and provide recommendations in September.

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