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Public radio host Tom Ashbrook placed on leave over undisclosed allegations

Tom Ashbrook, left, host of National Public Radio's On Point, interacts with Sue Lani Madsen at the taping of his show on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017 at the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane. (Spokane Public Radio)
Tom Ashbrook, left, host of National Public Radio's On Point, interacts with Sue Lani Madsen at the taping of his show on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017 at the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane. (Spokane Public Radio)
By Ellen Mccarthy Washington Post

The Boston public radio station WBUR has placed its most-well known host, Tom Ashbrook, on leave after receiving allegations against him.

The station did not go into detail as to what the allegations were about.

Ashbrook – host “On Point,” a syndicated call-in show that airs on nearly 300 public radio stations – is the latest public radio figure to face allegations resulting in censure.

Michael Oreskes, NPR’s senior vice president of news and editorial director, resigned in early November after being accused of sexual harassment by several female staffers. Another top editor, David Sweeney, left later that month as a result of sexual misconduct allegations against him. And legendary “A Prairie Home Companion” host Garrison Keillor was ousted by what Minnesota Public Radio after accusations of what MPR called “inappropriate behavior.”

Ashbrook’s home station, WBUR, issued a statement Friday announcing Ashbrook’s suspension but did not release details about the allegations or a timeline for his absence. According to the statement, the station’s owner, Boston University, plans to hire an outside organization to investigate the accusations and will make further determinations based on the result of that investigation.

A spokesperson for the station, Kristen Holgerson, said the station could not comment on specifics until “the process is concluded.”

A story by WBUR reporter Martha Bebinger said the station’s staffers gathered on Friday for an off-the-record meeting, where they were told of Ashbrook’s suspension. According to the story by Bebinger, who was not present at the meeting, station manager Charlie Kravetz told newsroom staffers that the station’s “primary concern is a positive work environment for everybody who works here and a respect for all those people who listen here in Boston and across the country.”

Ashbrook said in a statement to WBUR that he’s “stunned at the situation” and that he has “no information about what the station has received. There’s a process and I respect the process.”

According to WBUR, Ashbrook’s show will air Monday with a guest host.

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