A group of current and former WBUR employees are alleging that On Point host Tom Ashbrook created a toxic and emotionally unsafe work environment for staffers of the nationally syndicated NPR show through bullying and publicly humiliating colleagues, WBUR News reports.
According to the public radio station, 11 young men and women filed a 15-page document Thursday containing testimonials that allege Ashbrook belittled ideas in meetings, engaged in name-calling, directed tirades at young women in the studio, and gave “creepy” sex talks, hugs, and back or neck rubs after reprimands, according to WBUR News.
WBUR and Boston University announced Ashbrook was placed on leave Friday while an outside organization examines the allegations.
“I worry that Tom’s behavior discourages young women from continuing in journalism,” a former producer who signed the complaint told WBUR.
In a statement to WBUR News, Ashbrook said he is “stunned” that his colleagues came forward with allegations that have not been shared with him.
“In the pressure of a live radio environment, I have at times been a tough and demanding boss,” he said. “We aspire to put out a top-notch show. Many people have thrived in that environment; a few have not.”
Ashbrook went on to say he tries to be “fair-minded and courteous” with everyone.
“I can’t describe how deeply unsettling this is to me,” he told WBUR News. “I am sure that once the facts come out that people will see me for who I am — flawed but caring and decent in all my dealings with others.”
— Martha Bebinger (@mbebinger) December 11, 2017
According to WBUR News, at least three former producers for the show say they “screamed back” at Ashbrook or told him to stop berating a colleague, while five current or former producers say they met with station managers to raise concerns about the show host, going back at least five years.
On Point, produced by WBUR, is carried by more than 290 NPR Stations across the country.
Listen to the full report at WBUR.