Monday, July 8, 2024

Philly Radio: WURD Fires Host Who Used Questions Provided By TWH

The head of a Philadelphia radio station said Sunday it has parted ways with a host who acknowledged that she interviewed President Biden with questions submitted by his campaign, going against the station’s practice and those of most news outlets.

“On July 3, the first post-debate interview with President Joe Biden was arranged and negotiated independently by WURD radio host Andrea Lawful-Sanders without knowledge, consultation or collaboration with WURD management,” Sara M. Lomax, president and CEO of WURD Radio said in a statement.

“The interview featured pre-determined questions provided by the White House, which violates our practice of remaining an independent media outlet accountable to our listeners. As a result, Ms. Lawful-Sanders and WURD Radio mutually agreed to part ways, effective immediately.”

The Washington Post reports Lomax described the station as Philadelphia’s only independently owned Black talk radio station. She said such a move violated the trust the station has developed with its audience over the last two decades, and “is not a practice that WURD Radio engages in or endorses as a matter of practice or official policy.”

She added: “WURD Radio is not a mouthpiece for the Biden or any other Administration,” and that “we will commit to reviewing our policies, procedures, and practices to reinforce WURD’s independence and trust with our listeners. But mainstream media should do its own introspection to explore how they have lost the trust of so many Americans, Black Americans chief among them.”

In a one-minute video posted on Facebook on Sunday, Lawful-Sanders said, “effective immediately I am no longer an on-air host at WURD. I tendered my resignation yesterday. It was accepted.”

Lawful-Sanders’s interview was one of two Biden recorded last week after his June 27 debate against the 78-year-old presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. In it, Biden, 81 appeared at times tired, confused and incoherent, touching off calls from a growing number of Democrats to question whether he should continue running.

After the debate, the White House press secretary announced that Biden had recorded two radio interviews, one with Lawful-Sanders on WURD and the other with Earl Ingram, whose show is broadcast across Wisconsin.

“The questions were sent to me for approval. I approved of them,” she said. Ingram was not asked about his questions during an appearance on CNN, but later told ABC News: “Yes, I was given some questions for Biden.” Ingram said he was given five questions and asked Biden four of them, according to the outlet. “I didn’t get a chance to ask him all the things I wanted to ask,” he said.

WURD, simulcast on 96.1 FM and 900 AM, is Pennsylvania’s only independent Black-owned talk radio station and has an urban talk format. Lomax, whose late father Walter Lomax bought the station 20 years ago, said in her statement that the station takes pride in holding elected officials accountable.

“This is something we take very seriously,” she said. “Agreeing to a pre-determined set of questions jeopardizes that trust and is not a practice that WURD Radio engages in or endorses as a matter of practice or official policy.”

The Philadelphia Business Journal reports Lomax added that when WURD was invited to the White House on Feb. 26 to host a day-long live broadcast featuring interviews with cabinet secretaries and other high-ranking officials, the station agreed with the explicit understanding that it was not constrained to their suggested topics or talking points.

“We were clear that our hosts would ask difficult and provocative questions of their own determination based on the needs and interests of WURD’s listening audience — Black Philadelphians,” Lomax said.

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