Public radio host fired for creating alleged abusive environment

Maricruz Casares
Febrero 15, 2018

The university operates WBUR as an NPR affiliate.

Tom Ashbrook, host of the nationally-syndicated public radio show "On Point", has been dismissed from WBUR for creating an "abusive work environment", according to Boston University.

A second investigation by law firm of Holland & Knight was charged with determining whether Ashbrook's behavior constituted sexual harassment.

In a statement, Ashbrook said he believes WBUR and Boston University "failed in their responsibility to effectively address these issues when they arose and when they could have been more easily resolved".

The university said both firms talked with Ashbrook, those who filed the complaints, current and past "On Point" employees, and station management.

An independent investigation cleared him of those allegations, but determined that Ashbrook created an "abusive work environment", WBUR and Boston University, which runs the station, said.

"On Point employees expressed enormous pride in the program and they recognized that along with everyone else, Mr. Ashbrook was under a great deal of pressure to make sure that the two-hour daily program was flawless", Nicksa said of what investigators reported.

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"Given the University's failure to appropriately address these management issues at the time, it is fundamentally unfair that BOSTON UNIVERSITY would take such a drastic action against an employee exclusively based on his management interaction with his team".

BU says it interviewed scores of WBUR employees, who said they tried but were unable to get Ashbrook to change his behavior.

Longpoint Consulting will assist WBUR's management team in implementing changes at the station.

"I recognize that we must do better in the future", Kravetz said. "Despite the high-pressure nature of so much of our work, we must all be committed to a positive, respectful, and compassionate work environment in every corner of WBUR".

Ashbrook hosted On Point for 16 years. It was renamed "On Point" in 2002.

Ashbrook responded in a statement on WBUR's site, saying he was "deeply disappointed by this decision, which I believe is profoundly unfair both to me and the listeners who are been such a part of On Point". I've felt a bad urgency about our country's direction, and that urgency played out - maybe too stridently sometimes - in our workplace. And while both teams looked into different complaints-the alleged creation of an abusive work environment and the possible violation of BU's Sexual Harassment/Title IX policy-both described the deleterious effect that Ashbrook's conduct had on the On Point staff. Many listeners and guests have reached out to me to express their support, and I can't express how much that has meant to me. That may be hard to imagine in Boston, where he has been a local star.

"This is an opportunity to upgrade 'On Point, ' " said Ken Mills, a public radio consultant in Minneapolis. "It's good, but not great".

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