Brown and Johnson quit despite reforms at Wake Forest's WFDD
Originally published in Current, Nov. 1, 1999Though they expressed optimism about the future of Wake Forest University's WFDD, the program director and news director of the public radio station decided not to hang around to see what will happen.
Program Director Paul Brown announced his resignation Oct. 28, following News Director Michelle Johnson, who quit Oct. 19 to take a reporting job with the local Winston-Salem Journal. Brown plans to remain in the region, and is working on several cultural program projects.
Heeding the advice of a faculty committee, University President Thomas K. Hearn, Jr.., said Oct. 25 that he had transferred supervision of the station from the Office of University Advancement to the provost's office. Associate Provost Samuel T. Gladding will oversee the station.
Brown, Johnson and other WFDD news staffers had objected publicly in September, after Sandra Boyette, v.p. in charge of the advancement office, ordered them to limit their reporting on a campus controversy [earlier article]
Boyette, who has apologized for the incident, confirmed Brown's charge that she was planning to punish him for speaking out. "I told Paul that he would be relieved of his responsibility for overseeing the work of the station's news director, but we would keep in place his other responsibilities as program director and morning host, and make no change in his compensation," Boyette said in an extraordinary press release from the university.
The press release made a point of reporting that both Brown and Johnson had considered leaving the station even before the clash occurred.
That was so, said Brown, but Boyette's crackdown was the reason he was leaving. "It really is about freedom to report the news," he said. "We were threatened, there was retaliation. ... It never went into effect for the sole reason that I engaged an attorney."
"Both Michelle and I expect WFDD to emerge as an even stronger, more community-oriented station when the dust settles from this unfortunate incident," Brown said in a press release of his own. But he told Current that he didn't want to wait around for that day to come.
Web page posted Nov. 2, 1999
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