Podcast host “Answer All” to step down after accusations of toxic culture

Podcast host "Answer All" to step down after accusations of toxic culture

PJ Vogt, popular podcast hostreply to allHe took a vacation on Wednesday after complaints from his former colleagues that he and a senior reporter had contributed to a toxic work environment and rallied against the union’s efforts to diversify employees.

Both Vogt and chief correspondent Srothi Binnamini apologized on Wednesday in comments on Twitter. Ms. Bennamini also took a step back from her podcast work, according to an email late Wednesday to employees of Gimlet Media, who is producing “Reply All” from the company’s general manager.

The accusations came after the podcast aired its second episode in a series of stories of discrimination in the food magazine Bon appetitePopular video series. Since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officers last year, newsrooms and media organizations across the United States, including the New York Times, have faced a resurgence. Criticism about tackling inequality In their ranks.

Eric Edings, a former Gimlet employee who co-hosted the podcast “The Nod”, He tweeted on Tuesday That “Reply All,” specifically Mr. Vogt and Mrs. Pinnamaneni, contributed to a “nearly identical toxic dynamic” like the one they describe in their series on Bon Appétit.

“For me, I felt it was deceiving to frame this story in this way, as if they hadn’t been involved in something similar,” Mr. Eddings said in an interview on Thursday.

Mr. Vogt, 35 years old He said on Twitter that He “failed miserably as an ally” when the employees joined a union and apologized to everyone who was disappointed. “I should have thought about what it means to not be on the same side of a movement largely led by the young color producers in my company,” he said. “I was a kid and a jerk about it in countless ways.”

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He said he asked for permission to walk away from the show and was taking time to “think and listen.”

Ms. Binnamani said in her apology Her behavior around diversity and union organizing efforts It was “dirty, ignorant and hurt.” She said on Twitter, “I didn’t pay enough attention to the people of color in Gimlet and should have used my strength to support them and elevate them further.”

Mr. Vogt and another host, Alex Goldman, The podcast began in 2014, An adaptation of their previous WNYC radio show, “TLDR” (Too Long; Never Read). In recent years, the “Answer All” episodes have attracted listeners Inside India’s phone scam rings, to me High security prison in Illinois, And on a guitar track trip that a director listened to on the radio as a teen.

A Spotify spokesperson who Acquired Gimlet Media in February 2019, He said, “Answer All” will continue to release the episodes. Gimlet Media, Mr. Vogt, and Ms. Pinnamaneni did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During an employee drive to join the unions in late 2018 and early 2019, Mr Eddings said, Mr Vogt and Ms Pinnamaneni worked “aggressively” against efforts to diversify Gimlet’s employees. He said that when Mr. Vogt learned of the efforts to form unions – which many of the people of color in the company saw as a way to create an environment in which they could succeed – Mr. Vogt and Mrs. Bennamani tried to rally support against them.

Mr. Vogue sent offensive text messages to a member of the organizing committee, “tearing it to pieces,” Mr. Edings said, to the point that the person was crying.

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At one point, Mr. Eddings said he had met Mr. Vogt and asked him to stop defaming him and the others. Mr. Vogt said he was not receptive to complaints that the staff of color felt they had no opportunities to come forward, Mr. Edings said.

In another case, he said, when he tried to raise concerns about inequality about Gimlet, a member of the senior management team told Mr. Edings that she was reluctant to discuss issues with him because he always seemed “very angry”.

Mr. Eddings recalls thinking, “I’m upset because this place could be better.”

Several former colleagues spoke on Twitter to support Mr. Eddings, the staff of color, and other minority groups in the company.

Brittany Luce, a former Gimlet employee who co-hosted “The Nod” with Mr. Eddings, said she understood other people’s questions about the union, and what that would mean for them, but Mr. Vogt and Mrs. Bennamani’s strong opposition was shocking and agonizing.

“There were many days when I just woke up from tears,” said Ms. Luce, who left Gimlet early last year. “I was seeing what many of my colleagues were going through in an attempt to communicate something that I felt was very simple – to people who ostensibly like to appear in favor of a more equitable workplace, but especially have been acting in a completely different place way. It was tough.”

The situation became increasingly toxic as negotiations continued and Mr. Vogt and Mrs. Bennamani pressured the employees not to join, said Ms. Luce, who was Gimlet’s first black employee when she joined the company in 2015. She said she felt as though they wanted to preserve the company’s status quo. – Which employees of color have been saying, for years, lacked diversity and fair wages. The union was a favour By management in April 2019.

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Lydia Bulgreen, Gimlet’s managing director, told employees in an email on Wednesday that Mr Vogt would be stepping down.

“From the moment I arrived in Gimlet, it was clear that our culture needed to work, and there were big things that needed to change to make this place better and more equitable,” Ms. Bulgreen said, adding that the collective bargaining process was “by nature confrontational”.

“At Gimlet, we do creative work in collaborative teams,” she said. “This work is really rewarding and hard as well. It involves honest and difficult conversations at times. But those conversations should be done with respect.”

Reggie Hill Contribute to reporting.

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