WNYC, which has more than a million weekly listeners for its AM and FM stations, has gone through significant staff turnover in the last year. Fourteen journalists have resigned or been terminated from a staff of more than 150 editorial employees. In April, the station laid off four people who worked in the newsroom.
SAG-AFTRA filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing WNYC of retaliating against a shop steward who was among the employees laid off. A spokeswoman for the station said that WNYC “never has and never will make a personnel decision based on retaliation.”
Workplace morale has been low, said a dozen current and former staff members, most of whom spoke for this article on condition of anonymity to discuss internal issues.
“I didn’t want to leave,” Jim O’Grady, a reporter who left WNYC last month after 11 years, said in an interview. “But I felt like I had to, because for the most part it’s no longer a place of collaboration, collegiality and mutual respect.”
When Ms. Cooper started at WNYC in 2020, after five years as the editor in chief of The San Francisco Chronicle, she stepped into a volatile workplace. The station was still reeling from a period in 2017 internally referred to as “The Troubles,” when the veteran hosts Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz were fired for violating workplace conduct standards, and another longtime host, John Hockenberry, was accused of sexual harassment months after his retirement.
Goli Sheikholeslami, WNYC’s chief executive, said in an interview that the recent turnover resulted from a “necessary but also very exciting transformation” as the station tries to broaden its audience and make WNYC more of a “multi-platform” outlet.
When there are changes, Ms. Cooper said, “Some people are going to be psyched, some people are going to wait and see, and some people are going to be scared.”