WWOZ staffers share concerns about station’s priorities

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Current and former staffers and volunteers of New Orleans’ WWOZ tell the city’s Times Picayune that they’re troubled by the station’s direction.

Longtime WWOZ Program Director Dwayne Breashears told Offbeat Magazine that he would resign from his position April 1. Breashears later told The Times Picayune that five other staffers recently left the station.

The Times Picayune’s Tuesday article cited anonymous volunteers and current and former staffers who said they’re concerned the station’s focus is turning away from New Orleans. Reporter Chelsea Brasted wrote that they fear the station is “losing touch with the gritty hyper-locality that gave WWOZ its cachet. Several instead described a tense work environment, which led to at least six of about 20 employees leaving the station since April.”

In one example, the article points to an effort to buy thousands of tickets to a Grateful Dead concert in Chicago and resell them as a vacation package. That failed, according to the article.

WWOZ General Manager David Freedman and Chief Operating Officer Arthur Cohen said the station is staying on mission, however.

“We’ve always been changing, always been evolving and, sometimes, change makes people fearful. But it won’t take long for people to see we’re growing in good ways, and we’re conscious of preserving everything you love and know about WWOZ,” Freedman told The Times Picayune. “There is no change going on at WWOZ that is not consistent with the way we’ve operated for the last 35 years.”