Chicago Public Media’s board announced Friday that its hire for the station’s CEO position has withdrawn her acceptance of the job.
Andi McDaniel was set to take over this month as CEO of CPM, but CPM’s board has been reviewing her hire since August. CPM Board Chair Bryan Traubert said at the time that the board was reviewing McDaniel’s hire in light of concerns about the workplace culture at WAMU that arose this summer. McDaniel most recently served as chief content officer at the Washington, D.C., station.
Chicago Public Media and McDaniel made the decision that McDaniel would withdraw as CEO “together, with deep commitment to serving the best interests of the staff and WBEZ’s current and future audiences,” Traubert said in a Friday memo to staff provided to Current.
“Among other considerations, the decision follows deeper research into the recent turmoil at Andi’s prior employer, WAMU, and a review led by the Search Committee of the Chicago Public Media Board of Directors,” Traubert wrote. “Andi is a thoughtful person of deep integrity, and believes that all good leaders take responsibility when things go awry. In order to respond appropriately to the dramatic shifts in our nation’s climate since her hire, Chicago Public Media will reconvene to take a fresh look at the search process overall and then embark on a renewed effort to hire a new CEO.”
“This is an extraordinary moment in our industry—I’m inspired and energized by the movement to make public media more equitable and inclusive,” McDaniel told Current in an email. “Understandably, the issues that have surfaced at WAMU—like so many public media organizations—have given the staff at WBEZ questions and concerns about their own future. I know I would have led WBEZ with great integrity, transparency, and deep care for the staff. But a new search will ensure the necessary buy-in and confidence of all involved.”
CPM staffers have criticized the CPM board’s hiring process and have sought more transparency about the hiring and how McDaniel was reviewed. Before the decision that McDaniel would withdraw, Traubert had denied requests from employees for an all-staff meeting and to hear from McDaniel. In its most recent letter to the board, a group of staffers said it was “unacceptable that our own leadership cannot share more specifics about how it selected the next leader of this public organization as part of a process that has been billed as ‘transparent.’”
Leaders of the station’s SAG-AFTRA unit said in a statement Friday that they “appreciate and understand the decision, though our concerns were never focused on Ms. McDaniel, personally. We will request more answers in an upcoming scheduled meeting between staff and CPM Board President, Bryan Traubert, this afternoon.”
“We’re severely disappointed that our attempts to engage with the Board via letter were unsuccessful,” union steward Steve Bynum, senior producer of the station’s Reset, told Current.
I don’t know Andi personally but from the quotes in the articles on this situation and social media, I feel confident to say Chicago is losing out. What a terrible situation. I can understand CPM employees frustration at the lack of transparency on behalf of the board but to run this woman out of town for her association with WAMU is another example of an upsetting trend. I hope she receives severance and can take time to find her next path. I can’t imagine what she’s feeling. Our only hope to move forward is if we in media always remember to consider how the other person is feeling. Until then I’m afraid we’ll leave a path of broken and beat down colleagues on our way towards the supposed goal of equity and inclusion. We can do better.