Public-radio icon John Hockenberry was recently accused of harassing female colleagues in an investigation by the Cut. Now, less than a week later, one of Hockenberry’s former WNYC co-hosts — Adaora Udoji — has opened up about the trauma she says she endured in a new essay for The Guardian.
When Udoji was recruited as Hockenberry’s co-host of the WNYC program “The Takeaway” in 2007, she thought she’d “died and gone to professional heaven.” However, shortly after the show’s April 2008 launch, she found herself being yelled and screamed at by Hockenberry in the studio. “The abuse became normal. I was routinely cut off, ignored, and assigned what I considered offensive race stories,” Udoji wrote.
Udoji — who declined to comment for the Cut’s investigation — explained that, like many others, she tried to take her problems with Hockenberry’s behavior to WNYC’s management, only to be shot down. She wrote:
I asked senior staff at WNYC if we were on equal footing, with both of our names on the show? I was told we were, but there is a long list of ways I could prove that was not the case. The more I complained, the more the focus became my lack of experience in radio. But they were fully aware of that when they hired me. I was even told one of the reasons for John’s explosions were his frustration with my “incompetence”. I was the problem.
In her essay, Udoji asked how Hockenbery’s abuse was allowed “to go on for nearly ten years across three different co-hosts and among other staff and nothing be done?” She added that it’s “not enough” he’s no longer with the station. “If we are to prevent this in the future, senior leadership must be held accountable. That can only be done through a full investigation,” she wrote. “WNYC is a station intended to serve the public and is in part funded by public dollars. They must be accountable to the public.”
Read the full essay here.