New York Public Radio’s head of content was demoted to a vague advisory role on Friday, nearly two months after reports of endemic sexual harassment at the radio titan had drawn calls for accountability for top executives. But NYPR is insisting that the personnel change is not tied to the ongoing investigation into how such behavior proliferated for years.
At a staff meeting on Friday, NYPR President Laura Walker announced that her longtime lieutenant, Chief Content Officer Dean Cappello, would no longer oversee WNYC News and WNYC Studios, the organization’s fast-growing podcast arm. WNYC, which broke the news, added that he’d have no direct reports.
“Dean Cappello will provide creative guidance for WNYC Studios on a variety of projects, and continue to report to Walker,” spokeswoman Jennifer Houlihan Roussel said in a statement to Splinter.
Cappello has been a prime target of criticism within the organization since early December, when New York magazine and WNYC detailed harassment and racial bullying by top anchors in addition to structural inequality among staff. What executives like Walker and Cappello knew, and when, remains largely unanswered.
On Friday, however, Roussel said the demotion is “not a response to sexual harassment complaints,” but rather part of a strategic shift. An investigation by outside law firm Proskaur Rose, she added, is “still underway.”
Walker, the highly compensated executive who’s repeatedly apologized for NYPR’s at-times toxic culture, echoed that rationale in her own statement Friday.
“In the course of reviewing our organization, and given our ongoing growth and the diversity of content we are producing for both local and national audiences across radio and digital platforms, we have separated the WNYC content areas to allow for greater accountability and streamlined reporting,” Walker said.
In late December, NYPR fired legendary hosts Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz for alleged harassment. It has since set out to update its workplace policies and improve its internal culture. Still, after the staff meeting announcing Cappello’s job change on Friday, some employees were left with more questions.
“They have not made clear why they did it,” one staffer told Splinter, adding that they assumed the move was related to the scandal. “But if he was truly responsible, then wouldn’t he be out?”