Tom Ashbrook, host of the nationally-syndicated public radio show “On Point,” has been dismissed from WBUR for creating an “abusive work environment,” according to Boston University.
The school’s office of Marketing and Communications said Wednesday that the independent firms brought in to investigate allegations of bullying and sexual harassment against the host were able to verify the claims that Ashbrook created an abusive work environment.
No sexual harassment was found.
Ashbrook has been on leave from “On Point” since a group of current and former employees came forward in December to allege that the host created a toxic and emotionally unsafe work environment for show staff, engaging in verbal assaults, intimidation, and unwanted touching.
Two firms were hired by Boston University to investigate the allegations of bullying and sexual misconduct separately.
The university said both firms talked with Ashbrook, those who filed the complaints, current and past “On Point” employees, and station management.
“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,” the school said in a statement. “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.”
In a statement, Ashbrook said he believes WBUR and Boston University “failed in their responsibility to effectively address these issues when they arose and when they could have been more easily resolved.”
“I am deeply disappointed by this decision, which I believe is profoundly unfair to both me and the listeners who [have] been such a part of On Point,” he said.
Gary Nicksa, BU senior vice president for operations, said in a statement that Longpoint Consulting, which investigated the bullying claims, has been asked by the university to bring recommendations to the school and WBUR for how to more clearly define the organizational structure of “On Point” and how to improve the workplace culture.
“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,” Nicksa said of what investigators reported. “But the employees also described ways in which Mr. Ashbrook consistently overstepped reasonable lines and created a dysfunctional workplace in the process.”
He also thanked the current and former station staff who came forward for their “courage.”
WBUR’s general manager, Charlie Kravetz, said in a statement that Ashbrook should not return to hosting “On Point.”
“I recognize that we must do better in the future,” Kravetz said. “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 University’s support and Longpoint’s continuing efforts.”