Sunday, December 03, 2017


In a way this story is less about him and more about how management treated the women.

As for the three co-hosts who reportedly did let WNYC know they had problems with Hockenberry, the first, Nigerian-American broadcaster Adaora Udoji, was gone after eight months. (She declined to comment; she reportedly signed a nondisclosure agreement with the station.) The vacant seat was filled, for about four months, by African-American journalist, Farai Chideya. Initially Hockenberry was friendly, she said, but when it seemed like she might become a regular, he “got nastier.” One day, after a story meeting in which Hockenberry became argumentative, she said, he called her into his office. “You shouldn’t stay here just as a ‘diversity hire,’” he told her, according to Chideya. “And you should go lose weight.” Chideya said she recounted the incident to CEO Walker, who called it “horrifying” but didn’t propose any action. A few weeks afterward, Chideya decided to leave The Takeaway. She is now a program officer for journalism at the Ford Foundation, but she said the experience “derailed” her for a time: “All these decisions have consequences. Public radio doesn’t become more diverse if you keep protecting people who abuse women of color, or just women.”

Her successor, African-American Celeste Headlee, said she came into the job hearing about the conflict between Udoji and Hockenberry, and she had hoped that she’d be able to handle him better. But as Headlee laid out in emails to her superiors in April 2012, Hockenberry was professionally “sabotaging” her; he interrupted her on air, “trampled” her lead-ins, didn’t “allow guests to finish answering questions [she] posed.” If she tried to discuss it with him, he’d blow up, she told the station, insulting her publicly. As a solution, her boss arranged sessions for Headlee with a “radio personality” coach, who Headlee said focused mainly on teaching her how to deal with a “difficult personality,” how to keep from getting “rattled.” (As far as Headlee knows, Hockenberry was not asked to get any coaching, which isn’t surprising, she added, because one of the station’s execs told her that the only reason Hockenberry was “misbehaving” was that she wasn’t doing her job well.) Four months after she filed a formal grievance, the station decided not to renew her contract. “How did John keep his job for so long?” she mused. “Men like John are protected for decades.”

But that's usually the case in these stories.

Kudos to Kim writing this piece. Buy her book!