A report from the Philadelphia Inquirer shares the turmoil behind the scenes at the Philadelphia NPR outlet WHYY-FM (90.9). The newspaper states that the radio station has lost half of its journalists since last February.
The Inquirer says 34 journalists signed a note to management in February 2021 complaining of inadequate organization, lack of communication, and a priority on shorter stories. “Inspiration, communication, and morale are low, while burnout, siloing, and attrition are high,” the letter said.
A year later, the newspaper reports that half of those journalists have left the company. Since the beginning of 2021, at least 25 newsroom staffers have departed or have provided notice of their intent to leave.
“The desire to retain our talented colleagues was one of the many reasons we formed a union and fought so hard for our first contract,” a statement from SAG-AFTRA read. “But WHYY has not addressed all the underlying issues contributing to turnover.”
After completing interviews with those who worked or are currently employed at the radio station, the Inquirer says ten former and six current employees cited various reasons why they left or plan to go should a better opportunity arise.
Low pay, lack of advancement opportunities, a directive for shorter stories, and a feeling that management is not committed to podcasts and new approaches to journalism are some of the reasons as to why they have left or are planning to do so in the future.
The Inquirer report points out that WHYY verified 19 newsroom departures in 2021. The station started 2021 with 51 people attributed to the newsroom. That works out to a 37% turnover rate. So far this year, an added six people have departed or are about to leave. That lifts the rate to 49% since Jan. 1, 2021
WDAY Host Jeff Left Retires After 50 Years
Left worked in New York City, Portsmouth, Columbus, Philadelphia, and Fargo.
WDAY host Jeff Left is saying goodbye to radio as he’s retiring after 50 years in the industry across the country. Left began his career in Cleveland, Ohio, when he was 17 years old, and his first on-air opportunity was reading traffic reports to listeners.
“I wasn’t afraid or nothing. ‘I-35 backed up 10 minutes’, and I’m just reading it,” Left said about doing his first live-reads. “I said to myself, ‘Is this it? This is fun!”
Those live-reads led to Left traveling the country and working at various stations throughout his 50-year career. He worked in New York City, Portsmouth, Columbus, Philadelphia, and Fargo.
Eventually, he returned to WDAY for a second time, working in sales, production, and as an on-air personality alongside Bonnie & Friends.
“I’m lucky enough to have 27 advertising awards, I’ve been published 23 times nationally…” Left said. “…I thought it was time, and so that is why I decided to retire.”
Beginning Monday, October 2, Jace Denman will join Bonnie & Friends as Bonnie’s new co-host.
KQED Promotes Ernesto Aguilar to Executive Role
Since joining the radio station in 2021, Aguilar has been Director of Radio Programming.
News/talk KQED in San Francisco is promoting Ernesto Aguilar to Executive Director of Radio Programming and Content DEI. Since joining the radio station in 2021, Aguilar has been Director of Radio Programming.
Aguilar reacted to his promotion on X, formerly Twitter, and shed light on details of what the new role that he’s taking over will consist of.
“Happy to share that my role at @KQED is growing,” Aguilar wrote. “I’m now Executive Director of Radio Programming and Content DEI. In addition to the exciting broadcasts we do, I’ll also now oversee diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in the Content division.
“I’ll work closely with our Chief DEI Officer and teams to ensure our internal culture and our programming authentically serves the diverse Bay Area community we cherish. I’ll also be implementing annual Content DEI plans.”
Before joining KQED and heading to the Bay Area, Aguilar was Executive Director of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters and worked in Houston’s public radio scene. Furthermore, he thanked his boss, Holly Kernan, for entrusting him with the new role.
“Sincere thanks to @KQEDKernan, my boss, for her dedication and leadership on diversity issues,” Aguilar added. “Her support for devoting resources within Content is invaluable and a step I hope other organizations learn from.
Chris Hayes Taking Podcast on Road with Live Tour
Joy Reid will join Hayes while the tour is in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Rachel Maddow is the guest for the New York stop.
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes is taking his Why Is This Happening? podcast on tour, as he’ll be hosting three live shows in Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York. Hayes has already made a stop in Austin, but the bulk of the tour is getting underway.
Hayes’ tour this fall will begin on Oct. 9 in Chicago, then head to Philadelphia on Oct. 16, and conclude in New York on Nov. 12. Furthermore, the MSNBC host won’t be alone, as he’ll guest, including some from his network.
Joy Reid will join Hayes while the tour is in Philadelphia; meanwhile, Rachel Maddow is the guest for the New York stop.
The All In host was recently in the news after it was announced that Inside with Jen Psaki will take over the Monday 8 p.m. time slot of Hayes’ show, with the change beginning on Sept. 25.
Nonetheless, Hayes will still anchor his show Tuesday through Friday, and Psaki will continue in her Sunday time slot at noon.