FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Former WCPT Talk Show Host Announces Discrimination Complaint with NLRB Against Newsweb’s WCPT-AM for Union Retaliation
Besen Also Alleges Extreme Pressure to Renounce Endorsement of Bernie Sanders in Favor of Hillary Clinton
CHICAGO – Former WCPT-AM 820 talk show host Wayne Besen announced on Facebook Live today that he has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against WCPT’s parent company Newsweb. He alleges that station President Charley Gross and owner Fred Eychaner fired him last Friday for his desire to join the union, despite the popularity and success of his show.
The dismissal occurred two weeks before Besen was the lead witness in a hearing where WCPT was accused of undermining and circumventing the union. SAG-AFTRA claimed that Besen’s position was one that was covered by the union, while WCPT falsely claimed that
he was an independent contractor – in spite of their numerous efforts to control content. The union contends that WCPT engaged in direct dealing with Besen and engaged in strong-arm tactics to keep him from joining the union.
“It is unconscionable that WCPT behaved in such a deceitful and hostile manner to union organizing while claiming to be a progressive station,” said Wayne Besen, who hosted The Wayne Besen Show from July 2015 until last Friday. “I will continue to speak the truth and stand up with the union against this injustice.”
Besen also alleged that WCPT pressured him to drop his support of Bernie Sanders in favor of Hillary Clinton. The Washington Post reports that Fred Eychaner gave $25 million to The Clinton Foundation.
The day after Sander’s big New Hampshire victory – Besen said on-air that Sanders had an outside chance to win. This incensed Gross and he informed Besen that it also upset Fred Eychaner.
“In my view, they set out to punish me,” Besen alleges. “Gross demanded that I cease talking about all national issues and start doing a hyper-local show – because that would preclude me from talking about the Clinton/Sanders race.
“Gross ordered the WCPT production team to no longer cut national promos for my show. All promos from that point forward were of me discussing local issues – which was false advertising for the show’s actual content, which had always been a mix of local, state, and national news.”
The harassment reached a crescendo, Besen asserts, when Clinton won the contentious New York primary and Charley Gross emailed Besen at night asking him if he was ready to support Hillary Clinton.
For the record – Besen’s show had literally hundreds of hours of discussions of local issues. In his final week, Besen discussed, for example, the disproportionate ticketing of African American bikers in Chicago and a bill to legalize recreational cannabis in Illinois. He also interviewed state comptroller Susana Mendoza and State Sen. Daniel Biss, who is running for governor.
On its website, WCPT writes: “We are one of the last independently owned radio stations in the country. Because we are not part of a conglomerate, our hosts have the freedom to speak their minds… and speak they do.”
“Clearly, WCPT is insincere and makes a mockery of their own assertion to allow hosts to speak their mind. They are able to speak freely only if they parrot Fred Eychaner’s political views and act as his public relations agent.”
Wayne Besen is the founder and Executive Director of Truth Wins Out, an organization that monitors the extreme right and fights for LGBT equality. The website is TruthWinOut.org.