Longtime radio host, Jay Smooth, has resigned from the non-commercial station WBAI after more than 20 years of being on the air. The underground hip-hop radio pioneer says that he resigned from WBAI’s The Underground Railroad after learning that controversial Radio Host Leonard Lopate was hired by the station.
Lopate had previously worked for WBAI in the 1970’s before moving to WNYC where he was eventually fired. The exact reason for Lopate’s firing was never made public however there have been claims that the now 77-year-old was let go due to harassment claims.
Smooth had been against the hiring from day one and vowed to leave the station if Lopate’s show was still airing.
“And so, here we are. This is incredibly painful, despite all their efforts to make the decision easier. But there is no other choice. I will no longer be broadcasting on WBAI,” Jay Smooth wrote on Twitter.
And so, here we are. This is incredibly painful, despite all their efforts to make the decision easier. But there is no other choice.
— jay smooth (@jsmooth995) July 19, 2018
Smooth was not the only WBAI employee to publicly express frustration with Lopate’s hiring. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, during Yusuf Lamont’s late-night show, Creative Unity Collective, he called the decisions “incredibly short-sighted,” and was reportedly more expressive off the air.
The CJR also is reporting that producer Mimi Rosenberg described the welcome Lopate received from WBAI as “quite disturbing.”
“I don’t believe for one second our audiences of beleaguered, impoverished, discriminated communities, who we should be representing the voices of, are crying for Mr. Lopate to come on the station,” she told the CJR.
Despite the opposition, WBAI and their partner Pacifica Foundation have thrown their support behind Lopate
Lopate has not responded to the criticism and outpouring of protests against The Leonard Lopate Show which now airs daily on WBAI.