WNYC hosts Leonard Lopate, Jonathan Schwartz put on leave amid investigation

WNYC suspends Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz
WNYC suspends Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz

Two of the best known hosts on WNYC, Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz, have been placed on what the station called an "indefinite leave."

"Effective immediately, Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz are no longer on the air," news anchor Shumita Basu said on the station's noon newscast.

The station's parent organization, New York Public Radio, said the two men have been sidelined "pending an investigation into accusations of inappropriate conduct." The station would not comment on the nature of the accusations.

Wednesday's announcement followed days of scrutiny into the public broadcaster's handling of a case of alleged sexual harassment and bullying.

The Cut published a story by Suki Kim last Friday that contained detailed allegations of sexual harassment against former radio host John Hockenberry. "Looking back, my behavior was not always appropriate and I'm sorry. It horrifies me that I made the talented and driven people I worked with feel uncomfortable," Hockenberry said in a statement.

According to the story, some of the accusers complained to management.

WNYC CEO Laura Walker apologized on Tuesday in an interview on "The Brian Lehrer Show."

She said she knew about some, but not all, of the allegations against Hockenberry while he was still employed by the station.

When Hockenberry signed off from "The Takeaway" over the summer, it was portrayed as his own decision.

But Walker said on Tuesday that the station "decided not to renew John's contract for a variety of reasons, including some of what we knew about how people felt."

According to Current, a publication about public media, Walker said, "I deeply regret that our culture and protocols did not work as they should, such that the full extent of the allegations are just coming to light. This alleged behavior happened on my watch and I take responsibility."

Wednesday's announcement about Lopate and Schwartz was attributed to Walker.

"New York Public Radio takes these kinds of allegations very seriously and is reviewing these matters promptly," Walker said. "NYPR is committed to taking all appropriate steps to ensure a respectful, equitable, inclusive and harassment-free workplace for everyone."

Reached by phone, Lopate said he was shocked by WNYC's action.

"I'm baffled by this. It makes absolutely no sense to me," he said. "I'm sure that any honest investigation will completely clear me."

Lopate said he was not informed about the nature of the allegations. He confirmed that he was escorted out of the station's office on Wednesday morning. And he said he is looking forward to a quick investigation.

Schwartz did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

WNYC said that Mary Harris will fill in on "The Leonard Lopate Show," a two-hour daily broadcast.

The public broadcasting world has been rocked by sexual harassment complaints recently amid a broader nationwide reckoning about abuse of power and workplace harassment.


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