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Tom Ashbrook Dismissed from WBUR

Investigations verify claims of an abusive work environment;
no sexual harassment found

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Tom Ashbrook, the host of WBURs call-in radio program On Point, with more than two million listeners through more than 290 National Public Radio stations, will not be returning to WBUR. Boston University, which operates WBUR, reached this decision after an independent review verified claims that he had created an abusive work environment. Ashbrook has been on leave during the inquiry.

That review, conducted by Longpoint Consulting, is one of two inquiries launched by BU after allegations by 11 men and women who previously worked at On Point were brought to the attention of WBUR management and the University in December. On Point staffers alleged that over the course of many years, Ashbrook had created a work environment that included verbal assaults, intimidating actions, consistent bullying, and unwanted touching.

The second investigation, conducted by the law firm of Holland & Knight, was asked to determine if Ashbrook had violated BU’s Sexual Misconduct/Title IX policy by sexually harassing female members of his staff. That inquiry found that Ashbrook’s unwelcome conduct was not sexual in nature, and did not constitute sexual harassment under the school’s Sexual Misconduct/Title IX policy.

The investigators from both firms talked with about 60 people, including those who made complaints, other current or past On Point employees, station management, and Ashbrook himself. 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. Both reports also stated that WBUR management was aware of Mr. Ashbrook’s behavior and repeatedly talked with him about it, but was unsuccessful in changing his behavior.

“We were struck by the common themes that appeared in both reports,” says Gary Nicksa, BU senior vice president for operations. “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 perfect. But the employees also described ways in which Mr. Ashbrook consistently overstepped reasonable lines and created a dysfunctional workplace in the process.”

The reports also identified the need for the University to more clearly define On Point’s organizational structure, provide stronger management control for the program, and provide the staff with better training on how to raise and pursue grievance procedures. The reports also make clear the need for station management to implement more formal rules within the organization to maintain a positive workplace culture and environment, and to take appropriate disciplinary and remedial steps when those standards are not met.

To that end, Nicksa says, Longpoint Consulting has been asked by the University to take an active role in helping the stations management team implement needed changes. “Longpoint understands the management issues and dynamics that brought us to this point,” says Nicksa. “They will bring recommendations to us and to the station’s management team, and they will have an open door for any WBUR employee who wants to share their perspective or experience about how to improve or enhance the workplace culture.”

Nicksa says the University is grateful to the On Point staff, both past and present, who spoke with investigators from Longpoint and Holland & Knight. “We were moved by their words and courage in coming forward,” he says. “We are grateful to them for helping to make WBUR a better place to work.”

Charlie Kravetz, general manager of WBUR, says the investigations’ findings suggest that the damage done by Ashbrook cannot be mitigated, and that Ashbrook should not return to the program.

“I recognize that we must do better in the future,” says Kravetz. “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. We welcome the Universitys support and Longpoint’s continuing efforts.”

82 Comments

82 Comments on Tom Ashbrook Dismissed from WBUR

  • Thin Skinned Liberal on 02.14.2018 at 1:39 pm

    You get rid of Tom Ashbrook and keep Jack Beatty. Ayn Rand was right.

    • Jeff on 02.15.2018 at 9:41 am

      Responsibility, power and human relations often conflict.

  • Long Term Listener on 02.14.2018 at 1:43 pm

    Disappointed to hear about the departure of Tom Ashbrook. I have been listening to him since the inception of the show. I’m not excusing bad behavior but if he’s guilty of bad behavior the management of WBUR should go as well. They created the environment where bad behavior was either ignored and accepted.

    • Black Irish Carroll on 02.15.2018 at 10:24 am

      100% agreed.

  • Nancy Zewiey on 02.14.2018 at 1:46 pm

    Disgraceful result. If next week I hear whiny right wing Jane Klayson I will permanently stop listening to your station. Tom Ashbrook’s performance Is more than exemplified by the low quality of expert opinion chosen by immature sycophant interns on guest hosts show. And did no one else hear that shallow jerk Klayson insult Gov Casey on Tuesday’s show?

    • Happy Lucky on 02.15.2018 at 10:45 pm

      Love Jane Clayson!
      A refreshing break from the neo-lib white male outlook the show has been drenched with.
      The sexism was palpable. Did not need two law firms t verify, but glad they did.
      More Clayson, excited to know she is in the mix. Ashbrook to the ash heap along with Keillor –

  • Peter Smyth on 02.14.2018 at 1:57 pm

    Real abusive behavior isn’t acceptable. But putting on a great product every day is a pressure cooker. It probably takes a real ego. So I wonder if Bill Belichek is next.
    It sounds like Ashbrook should go if he had refused to change his behavior.
    But a consulting firm can only make the product worse. Just getting along and being nice never won battles or championships.

  • Sean on 02.14.2018 at 2:05 pm

    The show has not been the same since Tom has left. The quality has dropped significantly. It was up on the level of marketplace/TAL but now it’s not even close to fresh air.

    I think Tom’s hard work and pressure was shown through and spoke for itself in the show that was produced. It’s a shame the snowflakes working for him couldn’t handle it. I used to be excited to listen to the show. Now the guests and subject matter runs over whoever is hosting it. YOu get as much depth from the show now as you do from the news in brief at the top of the hour. Very Sad to see this happen!

    I’m not sure exactly what damage Ashbrook did except for hurt some people’s feelings? It would be interesting to hear some more details here, but it sounds like digging and finding hard truths aren’t part for the course anymore at WBUR.

    It sounds like he’s cleared of any sexual wrong doing which I agree should be grounds for removal.

    Meghna better watch out! Next we’ll hear she gave Bob Oakes some constructive criticism about morning edition and he started to cry!

  • Bob Burnett on 02.14.2018 at 2:09 pm

    I’m devastated. I thought Tom Ashbrook was an intelligent,erudite,informed man. It grieves me that this happened to such a great host. I’m an On Point obsessive. I will miss him. But I think, under the circumstances, WBUR made the correct decision

    • Nate Orshan on 02.14.2018 at 2:35 pm

      Spot on. I’ve also been an “On Point obsessive” since the second time I heard the show in 2005, and I’m grieving this loss. But I’m also so disappointed in Ashbrook for his abusive behavior (and, I suppose, in WBUR for not stepping in sooner).

      Here’s hoping the people injured by Ashbrook can heal, On Point and media everywhere can learn from this example, and Ashbrook himself can change.

  • Sarah Kramer on 02.14.2018 at 2:11 pm

    I am extremely disappointed in management.
    #brokenstair
    #missingstair

  • Gershon Eisenberger on 02.14.2018 at 2:14 pm

    I am really disappointed with this decision. It seems that he is a tough boss. But he does have, in my opinion, the best radio talk show. Shouldn’t the employees expect a high pressure environment that demands excellence? I understand he may have gone too far, but could Tom not learn new behaviors?

  • Greg on 02.14.2018 at 2:22 pm

    So, who’s the new host?

  • Jim Olson on 02.14.2018 at 2:45 pm

    I could not agree more with all of the comments so far. Tom will be missed. I have co-workers (all of them women) who stopped listening to “On Point” as soon as Tom was pulled off the air. They, and I think the show just isn’t the same. Tom was a master at his craft. I’m sorry to hear he was and a-hole and hard on people behind the scenes, but I wish he would have been given a 2nd chance. Are there no more 2nd chances these days? I hope Tom gets picked up by another station and I will be sure to tune in.

  • K. Parris on 02.14.2018 at 2:50 pm

    Notice how this reporting doesn’t name a single specific thing that Ashbrook did wrong. He was a tough boss, and the babies in the office couldn’t handle it. Apparently his toughness was necessary, since the show is now terrible.

    On Point under Ashbrook was, hands down, the best in-depth radio talk show out there. Now it’s trash. Shame on WBUR for capitulating to this insanity and throwing away the best programming on NPR.

    • M. Mustard on 02.14.2018 at 4:15 pm

      The specific grievances have been covered time and time again in earlier reporting, often with direct quotes and specific examples. That this particular article leaves those facts out does not diminish their reality.

      • jake treadwell on 02.14.2018 at 10:32 pm

        No, the specific grievances have not been covered very much at all. We know that Ashbrook has been accused of “creepy” behavior. What sort of legal weight does the word “creepy” carry, anyway? We know that he wadded up a script and threw it in disgust at a producer. So did Lou Grant. We know that he called a guest a vulgarity behind the guest’s back. Really? We know that he was not found guilty of sexual harassment of any kind. I will tell you one thing. This case needs a heck of a lot more transparency, or it will be a festering wound, unable to heal.

    • Paul on 04.12.2018 at 3:51 pm

      Fifteen years ago, i was a participant in complaint against a “beloved” teacher at a private high school ( formerly Catholic) in Maine. The Office for Civil Rights, out of Boston took on the investigation, as the complaints of two generations of students, were so compelling and disturbing. The outcome was the eventual removal of the teacher, but not without months of hate speech toward students and parents and staff who had raised concerns about this teacher and the lack of action taken re: complaints to the board and the principal over 20 year period. it seems that the perpetrator in sexual harassment or hostile work environments is almost always, “beloved”, or “professional”, or “intelligent” – think Charlie Rose, Tom Ashbrook – somehow their “gifts” excuse their behavior. Also, it almost always comes out that these abusive individuals have had years long histories of abusing those around them – it is a surprise only to those who have not had direct contact or are not a part of a given community. I was one of the parents whose children witnessed the abuse but was not directly a victim of this teacher. I wonder if the commentors on this site had had daughters or sons or other loved ones affected by the innappropriate actions and disrespect of Tom Ashbrook, would they still be namecalling the victims, diminishing the brutal impact of these bullies in the workplace.
      One last thing, if you have been a listener all these years to Tom’s program – he appears to be so evolved and conscious and openminded – yet he was unaware of the impact of his actions?! Shame on you, Tom. Grow up and get some help.

  • David on 02.14.2018 at 3:01 pm

    Very disappointing to see Tom go, although the show is still excellent. Its a lesson to us all that regardless of the pressure upon us, we must step back from creating toxic environments and passing on down that pressure to our teams. Otherwise its the same as war criminals that hide behind “I was just carrying my orders out” stance. There are ways to be excellent and uphold the best values of creative workplaces, and those are the leaders we need to support and advance. “Toxic” is becoming the overriding flavor of this once great nation, and it has to be eradicated once and for all.

  • Jonathan on 02.14.2018 at 3:17 pm

    I’m so depressed to hear this…not to condone abusive behavior, but I really looked forward to Tom each day. Another loss…

  • Tim Schreier on 02.14.2018 at 3:23 pm

    Sad to learn this news. Tom Ashbrook seemed to be one of the best and most fair interviewers outside of the studio. Inside, apparently not. Disappointing to us, the listeners. May I cast a vote for Jane Clayson? Having worked with her at CBS, I can attest to her professionalism, respect and kindness. Having listened to her on the show, you don’t need my applause to see her as a true talent.

  • David Crane on 02.14.2018 at 3:29 pm

    Indira Lakshmanan has been far and away the best guest host- better than huffy, arrogant, supercilious Tom ever was. She asks insightful questions. She listens to answers. She paraphrases guests and call-in listeners respectfully and thoughtfully. I change stations whenever heir-apparent Jane Clayton hosts.

    • Dan on 02.14.2018 at 3:45 pm

      I completely agree with you. I’ve actually started listening more whenever Indira is on. Cheese fantastic where as I have always found Ashbrook to be an insufferable concern troll of an interviewer. I’m off and stunned by the stupidity of his questioning. I can only imagine working under him must have been insufferable as well.

      • nzchicago on 02.15.2018 at 1:36 pm

        I totally agree. Tom was not a great interviewer and didn’t seem very intelligent to me. Frankly, I thought Charlie Rose was also a bit of a dope who just loved to hear the sound of his own voice too. I will not miss these guys.

    • Lauren on 02.15.2018 at 9:21 am

      Thank you David and Dan for posting against the tide, because I completely agree with you and thought “good riddance” when I heard the news. I had stopped listening to Tom’s biased, aggressive and antagonistic “interviewing” as the election approached (it had only grown worse),and if his brand of “journalism” was any indication, I have no trouble believing he was a bully. I have to check out Indira now!

      • Also posting against the tide on 02.20.2018 at 1:04 pm

        On Point was a new show to my local station in the last year or two. I also thought Tom Arnold was extremely biased, loved the sound of his own voice and was quick to cut off guests and callers who didn’t agree with him. I had stopped listening to this show altogether because of his “style”. I started to listen again when Tom Arnold was suspended. I hope WBUR makes Indira the permanent host. She is thoughtful, respectful and by far the best interviewer on this program.

    • Longtime listener on 02.15.2018 at 9:58 am

      I wholeheartedly agree with David Crane. Indira should be a serious contender. She is a serious journalist and would be a great choice for On Point.

      • David Holzman on 02.15.2018 at 9:07 pm

        I agree that Indira was terrific–asked good questions, listened to answers. And I recall Ray Suarez doing a terrific job asking follow-up questions for interviewees who didn’t answer completely, and doing it totally non-antagonistically. Meghna also was a very good interviewer.

        My first reaction when Ashbrook was pulled from the show was sorrow, but I’ve come to think that the above three and some other guest hosts actually do a better job than he did.

        I also think there is no excuse for creating a toxic work environment. A work environment should encourage people to grow.

    • Tim Schreier on 02.15.2018 at 11:15 am

      I agree, although I stated my opinion on Jane Clayson. Indira Lakshmanan is equally great. Perhaps the two can hold down the fort? Alternating days? Both are fantastic solutions.

  • Long Term Listener of On Point on 02.14.2018 at 3:30 pm

    As much as I like On Point and appreciate the good contributions of Tom Ashbrook, his dismissal was the best course of action, sadly. The allegations of work place abuse are credible considering the large numbers of producers and staff who had the same complaints. There is no way to justify aggressive and bullying behavior that discourages up and coming producers from pursuing their promising careers and damages the culture and work environment at On Point and WBUR. In addition to producing a first class program, Mr. Ashbrook also had a responsibility to mentor the next generation of Public Radio producers, and a responsibility to create a collaborative work environment that brings out the best in his staff, not drives them away in fear, dread or discouragement. That behavior did a disservice not only to his staff but to all of us. I hope Mr. Ashbrook finds the opportunity to grow as a person and finds a way to continue his contributions to good journalism. On Point is in good hands with Jane Clayson, Ray Suarez, and the other fine hosts who are keeping up the high standards of On Point that we are used to.

    • RICHARD A LANCASTER on 02.14.2018 at 5:43 pm

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I am disappointed as well. Both TA and BUR Management have some lessons to re-learn. I agree with your point that the show has retained its value and will continue to contribute mightily to important and necessary public discourse. Hats off to the team of employees that produced the program, even when the environment was tough. I hope that all parties become better from this devastating experience. Given what I have experienced by listening to this group I am sure that they will continue to growth and do well.

  • Kelly on 02.14.2018 at 3:54 pm

    I am extremely disapponted with WBUR/BU’s decision. I suspect that Tom didn’t suffer fools. His dismissal is unwarranted and unfair. I stopped listening to On Point after Tom was put on leave. I hope Tom finds a venue that respects his high journalistic standards.

  • BU alum on 02.14.2018 at 4:10 pm

    Disappointed in BU’s decision. I won’t be listening to On Point anymore, it just won’t be the same without Tom. In addition, it was wrong of them to dismiss him just because he was a mean boss. I’m usually one of the people placed in the category of “liberal snowflake” but this really takes it to a new level. People need to get used to the fact that not everybody is going to be nice and sugar coat things for you throughout your life. Tom should be given a second chance.

    • Donna on 02.14.2018 at 5:02 pm

      It would seem Mr. Ashton was given several “second chances”

      Both reports also stated that WBUR management was aware of Mr. Ashbrook’s behavior and repeatedly talked with him about it, but was unsuccessful in changing his behavior.

  • kay sweebey on 02.14.2018 at 4:33 pm

    Tom was a great host er “OnPoint”, but nobody could touch Chris Lydon’s intellect and even more impressive, his social and conversational skills. If you were a “Connection” listener before it was changed to “On Point” you would know the difference. I say, bring back Chris and “The Connection”.

    • Catherine Caldwell-Harris on 02.15.2018 at 6:16 am

      Good idea! And/or give the show to two different hosts, one hour per day for each person, to reduce the amount of reading, prep and organization required, so that the morning isn’t such a pressure cooker.

  • R Duchak on 02.14.2018 at 4:58 pm

    Everybody is replaceable, especially white male bullies. Wish Ashbrook the best in reflecting on how he can grow and be a better colleague. He was good but not good enough that the show needed his special brand of toxic leadership at the helm. Onward, public radio listeners.

  • A Long Term Listener on 02.14.2018 at 5:52 pm

    As a very interested observer and long time listener to On Point as well as WBUR overall, the process appears to have been fair. And, while the decision clearly was difficult, I believe it is more important to support the “team”, which is a great team, than to allow one individual to continue unacceptable behavior because he, or she, was a “star”. I will miss him and it may be difficult for WBUR to sustain On Point’s performance, but I am confident that overall the team will continue to produce great radio.

  • Kirk Feather on 02.14.2018 at 5:52 pm

    Disappointed by this development and saddened tremendously. There have been few radio hosts as good, or as compelling, as Tom Ashbrook. OK, I’ll say it. I’m old enough (66) to have concluded that, while “abusive” behavior ought not to be tolerated in the workplace as a matter of course, there sure are an awful lot of thin-skinned people out there these days. I’m wondering how they would have managed working for, say, Henry Luce or any of the media outfits that managed war correspondents during WWII. If excellence is a driving ambition and a goal for the organization you work for one can’t expect one’s superiors to be “nice” or even sympathetic of your feelings. Get out of the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat.

  • Paul Clark on 02.14.2018 at 5:53 pm

    I am truly concerned with the decision by WBUR to remove Tom Ashbrook. Without any concrete instances of the “damage done by Ashbrook (that) cannot be mitigated”, and seeing a Management statement that reads “we must all be committed to a positive, respectful, and compassionate work environment”, I wonder if the Management of WBUR is more interested in developing Kindergarden-like work places rather than first-rate ADULT talk shows.
    If TA crossed the line, action should have been taken!
    But if he made some people work their fingers to the bone and cry their whole lunch hour but then to produce one of the finest shows on radio…Hmmm.

  • Rosemary Kean on 02.14.2018 at 7:18 pm

    To my ears Tom was almost perfect for On Point. He could relate to both urban and rural callers across the country which is not common for talk show hosts. His respectfulness to callers makes it hard to understand him creating a toxic work environment. I think management let Tom and all of us down by letting it get to the point where he had to be let go. I had been hoping for his return and now hope I’ll be able to listen to Tom interviewing somewhere else. I agree that “The Connection” with Chris Lydon was another great listening experience. And I’m sure someone else can grow into the role of very talented interviewer but I don’t think we’ve heard that person yet.

  • Eli on 02.14.2018 at 7:55 pm

    As a long time listener and multiple time
    caller to “On Point,” this is a terrible mistake. Bosses swear and act inappropriately at times such is life. What a blow to quality reporting. This is a victory for the right wing, because it shows that the beta males at NPR can’t take a dose of reality and want to exist in a bubble where everyone plays nice. Shame!

  • Long Term Listener on 02.14.2018 at 8:08 pm

    This has been mismanaged from day one. The announcement of Tom’s departure initially was vague giving us a terrible impression of what he might have done then the next day we were given too much information that is usually only discussed internally within a company. Shouldn’t Tom received coaching? You’ve hired coaches for other people in management there? Who’s in charge? Don’t be surprised if he sues. Your General Manager needs to step down.

  • elsie on 02.14.2018 at 8:34 pm

    As a longtime On Point listener, I would like to express my distress and disagreement with BU’s decision not to bring Tom Ashbrook back to On Point. The decision seems patently unfair, and it does appear that the difficulties could have been better resolved internally without letting Tom Ashbrook go. Certainly the management should be held accountable for this egregious situation, not Tom. Stronger management would be able to retain the talent and intellect that Tom brings to On Point, and address workplace issues that arise.

    On Point has lost its energy, spark, interest, quality, and informative nature since Tom’s departure. Many of us can barely tolerate listening now, and it is certainly no longer a regular or central part of my day. I cannot articulate too strongly my disappointment about this loss to public radio listeners. The current decision undermines the mission of public radio and will not encourage the public to continue donating. I urge BU to reconsider this decision, and to bring Tom back without delay.

  • Eric on 02.14.2018 at 9:25 pm

    News of Tom Ashbrook’s dismissal is a huge disappointment. Certainly he crossed traditional boundaries in his persuit of excellence. To be on his team means you have to perform to high standards and endure pressure. I’m sure the faceless Boston University beauacrats who sit quietly in chairs, sign checks, and spend all day reviewing legal memos have no idea of what magic is, and choose complying to mainstream mediocrity over supporting something that truly makes the world a better place.

    Every listener of Tom knows god damned well Tom was out to make the world a better. I believe there were bruises along the way. Tom in his response acknowledges mistakes and expressed a willingness to resolve issues. So once again mediocrity wins. We need the voice of truth out now. Our government is in crisis. Our planet is in crisis. We need warriors who speak and tell the real truth. The free press, Patriots who stand by our constitution, supporters of a sustainable planet, parents who are concerned about what world we are leaving for children took yet another loss. Tom, for all of us that love what you’ve done, I do hope you re-emerge with a stronger and wiser voice, and find a new platform to have a greater reach and impact.

    • Previous Admirer on 02.15.2018 at 7:35 am

      Eric, I know the pain of your disappointment, but please know that you can have excellence and respectful behavior. Tom’s firing does make the world a better place. It pushes people to learn how to cope with their emotions under stress and lets others with less power express their skills, talents and enormous contributions. It was Tom who couldn’t handle the stress. Not the other way around. Tom will be just fine. I believe that.

  • TP on 02.14.2018 at 10:41 pm

    What about the management? Charlie Kravetz and his team should be fired as well for mismanagement and for letting this go on for so long. The toxicity is not limited to On Point and Tom Ashbrook. The entire station should be under scrutiny here. Leadership sets the tone.

  • Leonard Rosenthal on 02.14.2018 at 11:50 pm

    Finally, WBUR did the right thing. I have been listening Tom Ashbrook’s program since the beginning and have been a member of the station from well before Ashbrook’s program started. I found his arrogant and know it all approach with his guest, constantly interrupting them, to make the programs very difficult to listen to. There were times, I could not listen to any more – he was intolerable. Given his behavior with guests, I am not surprised that he treated his staff so poorly. WBUR’s management shares blame in this and some heads should roll. After all they were aware of problems but after warning Ashbrook, still kept him on after telling him to stop his bullying behavior. Both Jane Clayson and especially Ray Suarez would be excellent replacements and great hosts in their own right.

    • Lauren on 02.15.2018 at 9:26 am

      Thank you Leonard for articulating exactly how I feel better than I could have

  • jack on 02.15.2018 at 1:35 am

    I’m glad he’s gone. Now I will tune in again to test the waters. I couldn’t take more than five minutes of his dribble.

  • Catherine Caldwell-Harris on 02.15.2018 at 6:14 am

    I appreciate this point from a prior comment: “But putting on a great product every day is a pressure cooker. It probably takes a real ego. ” Given the excellence of Ashbrook’s work, I wish management had made some tough decision before they had to terminate Ashbrook. What about these options: reduce the show to one hour per day. That is already a crazy amount of work for a host! Give him a leave of absence; have him work with a therapist, etc.

  • Previous Admirer on 02.15.2018 at 7:14 am

    After Trump got elected, I found myself very irritated with the tone of Tom’s opposing viewpoint, his seeming to passionately support an ugly side of Trump. I eventually stopped listening to WBUR because he kept repeating the behavior, which I found pretty aggressive. I wasn’t shocked, but felt happy my instincts were on target. As the target of workplace bullying, I can tell you it is absolutely devastating. Let me mention the Work Place Bullying Bill. People have to cry sexual harassment just to be heard. Of course there has to be a reasonable cause to even mention that, even if it doesn’t amount to a dismissible level. With that they must investigate. With passage of the Work Place Bullying Act, there is no need to cry sexual harassment. Please read about it and stop feeling sorry for Tom. He will be far better off than his targets. I’m not surprised by the lack of sensitivity of so many listeners. If you only knew.

  • Melanie S. on 02.15.2018 at 7:21 am

    Tom Ashbook may well deserve to go, but so does the management staff that failed over years to correct this problem. He is being made the scapegoat, and that’s unacceptable. I can’t stand Jane Clayson’s approach and like others, grieve the end of what was an exceptional venue and sparkling host. I won’t be tuning into WBUR with quite the same fervor, or trust.

  • Michael Zank on 02.15.2018 at 7:30 am

    In my dealings with Tom, I found him to be a consummate professional. He volunteered his time to live-moderate a panel I organized and I remember him asking me some tough questions about the purpose and content before he agreed to take it on. I greatly benefited from his probing intelligence and attention to detail. He wasted no time and he did an excellent job. I am sorry to see him crucified in public.

  • Dan G on 02.15.2018 at 7:54 am

    This was absolutely the right decision. I know these are always hard cases, and good to know WBUR looked at this in detail, but absolutely shameful that he would not even take responsibility and apologize (that was a non-apology apology if I ever heard one) The fact that he would try to blame WBUR for his behavior just confirms that this was the right if difficult choice…

  • Under Pressure on 02.15.2018 at 8:16 am

    I fully understand the dynamic at work here. I too work in a highly pressurized environment lead by highly motivated and demanding public figures. Being abused in the workplace is no joke. I have seen too many talented people leave my workplace for the same reasons. Not because they were thin skinned, but because they had the self respect and dignity to refuse to be treated as a disposable human. Everyone here seems to have loved Tom for the product he delivered day after day. He didn’t do it alone and if he was only able to do that by chewing up and spitting out the “little people” that made it all work, I think it is perhaps too high a cost for that product. This is not about mediocrity winning. It is possible to produce high quality programming without being abusive. There is a difference between working for someone that is demanding and exacting and working for someone that is abusive and demeaning.

    • Ule Amra on 02.23.2018 at 10:06 pm

      I’m afraid “mediocrity winning” is exactly what this is about. As far as I can tell, Tom was suspended for allegations of sexual misconduct, those allegations were not supported by the facts uncovered by the investigation, and a bunch of whiny staff took the opportunity to pile on and scrape off the Big Bad Host. Well, congrats – you drove him out. And pretty soon, your show will be a memory, judging from what what I’ve heard the past couple of months. Good job!

      For those who think the product wasn’t worth it, well, to each his own I suppose. For me, On Point was the only call-in show worth the listening, and that was almost entirely due to Tom’s firm but fair moderation. Many voices were heard, none got to filibuster or ramble pointlessly, and a few even engaged in real dialog with guests (how many times do you hear that in “serious” radio?).

      I can’t pretend to know if it was possible to produce this show without all the “abuse”, but it’s pretty clear it won’t be possible to produce it without Tom. If it were, On Point wouldn’t have been the unique listening experience it has been all these years – there would be PLENTY of quality call-in shows discussing the issues with newsmakers and analysts – and for me, there really aren’t.

  • Saul Weinstein on 02.15.2018 at 8:44 am

    It seems that many listeners would be happy to tolerate an abusive person retaining power so that they can continue to enjoy 2 hours of afternoon radio? That’s a disturbing sentiment, and if you’re going to call someone a snowflake, perhaps your whinging about losing a radio host should be a cause for reflection. Considering the ongoing issue of suicide in academia, and careers being destroyed due to the “pressure cooker environment” cultivated by abusive bosses, it is perhaps worth changing the status quo. There is no excuse to be an unethical and cruel boss, no matter how great your product may be.

    • Previous Admirer on 02.15.2018 at 10:28 am

      Saul, thank you for your reflection. With your words, I feel the love Tom spoke of. I care for Tom and his family and don’t wish to demean him in anyway. You have said it so perfectly. I appreciate the work of the team and Tom had his role. I hope to hear/see him in another production, a newer, even better version. You made my day, because this hurt me too.

    • BU professor on 02.15.2018 at 12:02 pm

      I thought Ashbrook hosted the best talk show on radio. I agree, however, with this criticism of listeners who would excuse his reportedly abusive behavior and belittle those who suffered it. The way this was handled reflects as badly on WBUR management as it does on him. Taking him off the air in the immediate wake of Weinstein revelations suggested he was guilty of sexual harassment. I am glad to learn that was apparently not the case. If there was a longstanding pattern of workplace bullying, and Ashbrook refused to change his behavior, why didn’t management act sooner and more effectively? It seems reasonable to infer his ratings were more important to management than the workplace environment.

  • PS on 02.15.2018 at 9:36 am

    Getting one’s vision into the minds and hands of others can be near impossible, and many find these creative, productive people “difficult”. Ashbrook was one of the few people on the air anywhere who asked difficult, clear, and meaningful questions. And he was inclusive of the ideas of callers, which is an odd thing to overlook when letting him go. (Rose was good, too. But Bruade is mean to everyone.) So where are we now? There is no way that staff people should be abused; that is without dispute. But nor should we be afraid of strong people who are trying to do something important. Firing Ashbrook is a dangerous precedent for anyone in a position of supervision, growth, change. That means staff/lawyers get to kill the vision. That’s one of the scariest ideas of all. We NEED Ashbrook’s intelligence and voice.

    You have to wonder, given BU’s current climate (big money/big data) if Ashbrook’s political views were part of the problem. And it’s a bit ironic that Ashbrook is let go for the pressure he created when it’s clear that most faculty feel that way about BU leadership these days.

  • Ed on 02.15.2018 at 9:56 am

    I always thought Talk of the Nation was a better show, and Neal Conan a better host. Perhaps he could be tapped to replace Tom?

  • Jonathan Bloch on 02.15.2018 at 11:09 am

    Where are the specifics? Has BUR or BU released a report? Do we know the findings of the investigations? What line was crossed?

  • Beth Boucher on 02.15.2018 at 11:10 am

    It’s remarkable to me that someone like Tom Ashbrook, who has a gift for moderating difficult topics and conversations on air, would struggle with employee and team relations behind the scenes. I guess it was a show in many senses of the word. I am sorry to see him go as I was an avid listener, but I also think a toxic environment is something to be corrected. A sick work environment makes sick people. Even if it makes a good product, there’s dirt in the machinery.

  • Joe on 02.15.2018 at 11:13 am

    Making a two hour quality show that matters is grueling hard work.

    I would say most people coming into a production job like this have no idea how hard it is.

    And then only a few actually have the mental physical obsessive passionate skills that it requires.

    The people complaining are no doubt the ones who couldn’t hack it, and didn’t understand what it takes, and probably drove Tom crazy as he tried to get them to rise to the challenge.

  • Lynn on 02.15.2018 at 11:16 am

    “On Point” is not worth listening to since Tom Ashbrook went on leave. I tried. Creating a brilliant show every day means that mediocrity cannot be tolerated. And it is difficult in such a high-stakes environment to put up with folks who need to be handled with kid gloves. I do think that mediocrity has won this battle. I’m pretty sure Tom could have modified his approach to some degree and I’m sure that there are many ways in which that could have been brought about. But I am terribly disappointed at WBUR’s decision to terminate him. WBUR has lost a loyal listener and have received my last donation.

    • Carolyn on 02.21.2018 at 2:52 pm

      I agree. Tom produced two shows most work days for a long time. That’s a lot to carry.
      Having been a long time listener to On Point, he engaged me in our public discourse more than anyone else.
      I do feel he unraveled a bit over the past two years, to some extent from his alarm at our country’s trajectory and where it might lead. But I miss his vibrant intelligent and informed caring. The show seems somehow asceptic now, more superficial, and less inspired.
      I’m hoping he will find another platform and produce more high caliber work.

  • VALENTIN VOROSHILOV on 02.15.2018 at 11:28 am

    Is it possible to read the report? What specifically was marked as an abusive behavior? Because there is fine line between demanding hard work and being abusive. Calling names, degrading comments, physics actions is an abuse. But, for example, saying that something needs to be done better – is it? There is a difference between being polite and being nice. The former is required by the law, the later is not.

  • Mason on 02.15.2018 at 12:09 pm

    Based on what I’ve read and heard regarding Tom Ashbrook’s behavior his firing seems a gross and unfair overreaction—one that seems to be an effort by people in management roles to paper over their own responsibility and salvage their jobs.

    If Mr. Ashbrook’s actions are so egregious as to warrant banishment, management who knew about and tolerated this misbehavior in the name of ratings should also go.

    In addition, if what was considered tolerable in the past has (justly) changed, then Mr. Ashbrook has certainly earned the right to adjust to the new standards and stay on the air.

    P.S. Interesting that at the bottom of WBUR’s “Post Your Comment” section are several “Editor’s Picks” promos. One promotes “Five Jerks You’ll Meet at Work Based on Characters from The Office.” Apparently what’s funny on TV will get you fired in real life, and—haha— this warrants an editor’s thumbs up? A rather ironic and dunderheaded pick, if you ask me.

    • Cool Lester Smooth on 02.17.2018 at 8:47 pm

      Yup.

      At the end of the day, you simply cannot justify both firing Tom and keeping Kravetz.

      Suspending Tom pending completion of sensitivity and management courses before reinstating him on a probationary basis, while kicking Kravetz to the curb, would be justifiable.

      Firing both, along with Kravetz’s supervisor, would be justifiable.

      This is not. There’s no ambiguity here, either.

  • Jennifer on 02.15.2018 at 12:58 pm

    So disappointing that WBUR isn’t willing to support Tom’s interest in creating a quality product. What we are left with is mediocre programming. I am done supporting and listening to WBUR.

  • Nick Coti on 02.15.2018 at 3:46 pm

    I agree with the sentiment and substance of virtually all the comments supporting Tom Ashbrook and expressing regret at his departure. On point has now become for me just another choice. I hope that Tom Ashbrook finds a more influential place in life. Boston University has taken on a ring of mediocrity in management… more interested in covering their butts than in excellence. Good luck to those aspiring hosts who are nibbling on “the funeral baked meats.” Mr. Ashbrook is needed now more than ever.

  • Bill on 02.15.2018 at 6:41 pm

    This is a career tragedy for Tom, a huge black eye for management, and a big loss for listeners. Management knew there were problems, couldn’t correct them, but went with the status quo anyway, until it became a big public mess and they were forced to act. They should be fired as well. None of Tom’s replacements have come close to matching his craftsmanship. Off Point is now more like it.

  • Ritu on 02.15.2018 at 10:16 pm

    I am upset at Tom Ashbrook’s departure as an On Point host. He was an amazing host, there can be no replacement of him. If we continue to make a big deal about every little thing, we will loose real essence of many interesting programs, and many intellectual voices. I wish there was some different outcome of this investigation, and that Tom was back. He will be so much missed by all his listeners.

  • Terrier '89 on 02.17.2018 at 2:14 pm

    Based on my experience working at BU in the 90s, “hostile environment” pretty much covers the whole of the university’s management model.

    • Leon Story on 02.21.2018 at 9:55 pm

      Glad to hear this from another ex-BU-employee. Apparently the folks who controlled the radio station in the Lydon era are still around, or they’ve trained their successors well. Maybe Tom had too much power over his team… though I doubt it. I’ve been chewed out by a “bad boss”, but appreciated how many higher-ups (at HP in the Carly Fiorina era) he had to please. My complaint would be that he didn’t challenge his guest’s notions and positions strongly .. though he still was one of the very best hosts on radio or TV.

  • Jude Acers on 02.23.2018 at 7:02 am

    A GREAT TRAGEDY… specific actions/ACTUAL WORDS by this world class moderator should have been publicly given to hit home, to show the Ashbrook shadow ..the entire report should have been released. But it is ALSO strange that the entire annotative body does not realize this is it…On Point is gone and everyone there knew it -understandably fought to forgive Napoleon amidst massive Trump horror/chaos/ truth fighter needs and …THEY ALL KNEW their jobs PERISH with his absolutely necessary removal.( in history.. think the Ed Sulivan show without Ed Sullivan) It is not necessary to fire treading water, additional supervisory personnel as the ship is under ..Their national forum was totally that Ashbrook was JOLTINGLY NOTABLE AND sooo good.. he had to go at last. Jude Acers/ New Orleans

  • Gerald Bowman on 02.23.2018 at 10:03 am

    Tragic. I really liked Tom Ashbrook, but really there was no other action than to let him go. However, what makes me angry is that this all went on with enablers.
    He did not act in a vacuum. For me the leadership at WBUR and those in administration need to resign or be fired.
    To just fired Tom and say problem solved is deep BS.

  • WENDY Fuess on 02.24.2018 at 10:38 pm

    I was so disheartened to hear that Tom has been dismissed. The show is not the same without him. I called in twice and felt fairly treated both times even if I was disagreeing with the prevalent point. I’ve had more than my share of miserable bosses over the years ( not now thank god!) and there is a fine line between tough and abusive. Tom’s on aue “style” was part of what made the show unique. Time for someone to bring Neal Conan and Talk of the Nation back! And please don’t name Ray Suarez as the permanent replacement. He is so “ flat” and ineffectual in style. Not right for this show.

  • Trish in Iowa on 03.18.2018 at 10:43 am

    I didn’t care for Tom Ashbrook’s on-air style. However, it seems to me based on the above report that management oversight was sorely lacking. Maybe the appropriate approach was to terminate Ashbrook but, as an executive, I would have looked much more closely at the management failures. No policies related to work culture??? One must wonder if Ashbrook was the partially culpable scapegoat for the failure of the organization’s leadership.

  • John Campbell on 03.20.2018 at 2:06 pm

    On point was a daily adventure for me. Tom was the heart, energy, and brains of the broadcast. When you fired him, you lost me as a listener, and I lost the my most interesting radio show. We both lost,sad.

  • Liz in Providence on 04.19.2018 at 10:41 am

    I looked forward to On Point with Tom everyday and I am so disappointed that he is no longer with the program. It is really suffering with the current hosts…particularly Jane Clayson and Melissa Block. Unfortunately, with the exception of the first hour on Fridays and to hear Jack Beatty’s perspective, I can no longer listen to the show. :(

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