New York Public Radio Fires WNYC Hosts Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz

Leonard Lopate had been a host on WNYC for more than 30 years.

New York Public Radio on Thursday fired Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz, two popular and longtime personalities on WNYC, after recent allegations of inappropriate behavior.

The company said it acted after outside investigators had finished looking into accounts that the men had violated standards of workplace conduct. Mr. Lopate, 77, and Mr. Schwartz, 79, were suspended earlier this month.

New York Public Radio, the owner of WNYC, said both men had a history of being accused of improper actions and then facing disciplinary action from the organization.

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Credit...Rob Kim/WireImage, via Getty Images

Before the most recent complaints of inappropriate remarks surfaced against Mr. Lopate earlier this month, the company said it opened an investigation in February into similar allegations. Mr. Lopate was then given a warning and told to complete one-on-one anti-harassment training, the company said.

Mr. Lopate had been a host on WNYC for more than 30 years.

New York Public Radio said Mr. Schwartz, who was the subject of multiple complaints of improper remarks and behavior earlier this month, had previously been disciplined for other indiscretions. Mr. Schwartz, who joined WNYC in 1999 and hosted “The Jonathan Channel” for the station, is known for his commentary on jazz and pop and his expertise on Frank Sinatra.

Before firing Mr. Lopate and Mr. Schwartz, investigators interviewed both men and multiple witnesses, the company said.

Mr. Schwartz, in a statement sent by his lawyer, Mark Konkel, said, “I profoundly disagree and am extremely disappointed with WNYC’s decision today.”

Mr. Lopate was unavailable for comment.

After he was placed on leave, Mr. Lopate told The New York Times that he was “really quite shocked and upset” by the decision and vowed that he had “never done anything inappropriate on any level.”

In an internal memo circulated to employees, Laura R. Walker, the chief executive of New York Public Radio, wrote that “this is an extremely difficult time for everyone at NYPR” and said that WNYC producers would “be at work developing new programming that invites necessary conversations and addresses the most important, intriguing issues in American culture and the way we live now in New York.”

Another well-known WNYC headliner, John Hockenberry, who hosted “The Takeaway” until he retired in August, was accused this month by several women of sexual harassment, unwanted touching and bullying. Allegations have also emerged against several other powerful men in public radio, including Michael Oreskes, who led NPR’s news division; Garrison Keillor, the creator and retired host of “A Prairie Home Companion” for Minnesota Public Radio; and David Sweeney, NPR’s chief news editor.

Jennifer Houlihan Roussel, a spokeswoman for New York Public Radio, declined to detail the nature of the allegations against the two hosts.

“We recognize that Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz have made many contributions to New York Public Radio and we are deeply saddened to have to take these steps,” she said in a statement. “But our higher commitment continues to be to ensure an inclusive and respectful environment for our staff, guests and listeners.”

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