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New York DJ quits Pacifica station over hiring of Leonard Lopate

Jay Smooth, a popular disc jockey who hosted a hip hop program on a Pacifica Radio affiliate in New York, announced his resignation on Thursday after the station hired a controversial radio broadcaster who had been fired from a rival outlet over alleged inappropriate conduct.

Smooth announced his move on Twitter by publishing a screen shot of him updating his Facebook page to show his employment with Pacifica Radio affiliate WBAI (99.5 FM) coming to an end.

“This is incredibly painful, despite all their efforts to make the decision easier,” Smooth said. “But there is no other choice.”

Lapote was offered a one-hour daily program at WBAI months after he was fired from New York City NPR affiliate WNYC (820 AM / 93.9 FM). That firing came in December 2017 after allegations surfaced that he and another staff member had made inappropriate comments and engaged in bullying. Before their firings, Lapote and a second broadcaster were briefly placed on suspension while an outside counsel hired by WNYC reviewed the allegations. Lapote reacted to his firing at the time by calling it “unjust.” An article on WNYC’s website said the radio outlet did not disclose the specific allegations that were shown to have merit.

Smooth had been vocally opposed to WBAI’s move to hire Lapote. He openly questioned WBAI’s decision on Twitter, only to have the radio broadcaster flippantly respond in a now-deleted tweet that the allegations against Lapote were unfounded. In a message still visible on WBAI’s account as of this writing, the station said they welcomed Smooth’s feedback but wished he’d contact station management mote often because “management so rarely sees or hears from you.” WBAI then called on Smooth to “use some of your extra time” to get some donors for his program.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).