Longtime host of National Public Radio’s On PointTom Ashbrook was fired from Boston radio station WBUR for allegedly creating an abusive work environment.


Boston University, which operates the station, launched an investigation into Ashbrook after several complaints were made against him by both male and female staff members. They alleged that Ashbrook engaged in bullying, verbally abusing and touching without consent. An investigation that was performed internally by the station found that Ashbrook, who had worked there for 16 years, had not violated any sexual harassment policies, but that he had helped create an abusive workplace environment.

Ashbrook has been on leave from his post since the investigation started. 11 men and women came forward in December to report his behavior. A second investigation was carried out by law firm Holland & Knight, which found that Ashbrook’s conduct was not sexual in nature and did not constitute sexual harassment under the school’s Title IX policy.

“We were struck by the common themes that appeared in both reports,” said Gary Nicksa, BU senior vice president for operations, to BU Today. “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.”

On Point brings in about two million listeners over 290 NPR stations. The general manager of WBUR, Charlie Kravetz, admits that the program needs a restructuring. “I recognize that we must do better in the future,” he told BU Today. “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.”

In response, Ashbrook said he believes the decision is unfair to him, according to his statement on WBUR’s website. He wrote that he is “deeply disappointed by this decision, which I believe is profoundly unfair both to me and the listeners who are been such a part of On Point.” He added, “I have learned a great deal about myself over the past couple months, and there are things I would do differently in the future. But my interaction with our team was always well-intended and driven by my commitment to great radio and tackling tough issues.”

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