NEWARK MAYOR BARAKA SENDS LETTER TO WBGO RADIO MANAGEMENT CONCERNING ALLEGED WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION

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[Workplace Discrimination\WBGO 88.3 FM\Newark]
Newark Mayor Baraka: "From what I have heard from various employees of WBGO as well as what’s referenced in the most recent Community Advisory Board meeting minutes, the radio station may no longer reflect the ‘Newark Forward’ values of my administration specifically in terms of equity."
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This week, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka voiced his concern about the escalating racial tension that is occurring at WBGO 88.3 FM, Newark's world-renowned jazz radio station, and announced in a letter to WBGO's chairman that he would no longer do his "Newark Today" show on the station.

In Mayor Baraka's letter to WBGO's Chairman Karl Paul Frederic he stated that "As of today, I will no longer broadcast 'Newark Today' from your studios until there is significant movement toward a resolution. I will do the show off-site, but not at 54 Park Place." The "Newark Today" show is a monthly call-in show.

Baraka noted in his letter that "From what I have heard from various employees of WBGO as well as what’s referenced in the most recent Community Advisory Board meeting minutes, the radio station may no longer reflect the ‘Newark Forward’ values of my administration specifically in terms of equity."

Mayor Baraka's decision comes on the heels of Monday's firing of Josie Gonsalves, the station's former development officer, and Tuesday resignation of Amy Niles, WBGO's former president and CEO. Niles and Gonsalves reportedly clashed over allegations that Niles promoted a workplace culture of discrimination and intimidation.

According to the Tap Into Newark website, Gonsalves reportedly stated that both Frederic and Niles saw her as a troublemaker.

"I've been aware that they both (Niles and WBGO Board President Karl Frederic) believe that I've been some sort of ringleader or instigator in organizing the staff, both Black and white, some of whom have been there for decades," Gonsalves said.

Mayor Baraka in his letter called for the following:

  • Reinstate Josie Goncalves’ employment
  • Commence an investigation of the work environment and implement plans to encourage a cultural shift
  • Evaluate where the issue originates and whether it stems from the station’s current leadership
  • Partner with Newark Schools to establish an internship focused on jazz education and development for young people in the city

Mayor Baraka also said, "I ask that these problems be addressed swiftly and immediately to the satisfaction of your employees, or I can no longer continue to support the station in our community."

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