Tuesday, July 09, 2024

Statement from WURD Radio about resignation of host who interviewed President Biden


Accountability, Access and A Path Forward: Why Black Media Matters

By Sara M. Lomax, President and CEO, WURD Radio

UPDATED 7.8.24: WURD Management would like to clarify that Andrea Lawful-Sanders voluntarily resigned from her role as a host on WURD Radio and her resignation was accepted. She made significant contributions to the station and we wish her well.


Original Statement: 

On July 3, the first post-debate interview with President Joe Biden was arranged and negotiated independently by WURD Radio host Andrea Lawful-Sanders without knowledge, consultation or collaboration with WURD management. The interview featured pre-determined questions provided by the White House, which violates our practice of remaining an independent media outlet accountable to our listeners. As a result, Ms. Lawful-Sanders and WURD Radio have mutually agreed to part ways, effective immediately.

WURD Radio remains an independent voice that our audience can trust will hold elected officials accountable. As Pennsylvania’s only independent Black-owned talk radio station, WURD Radio has cultivated that trust with our audience over our 20-year history. This is something we take very seriously. Agreeing to a pre-determined set of questions jeopardizes that trust and is not a practice that WURD Radio engages in or endorses as a matter of practice or official policy.

Earlier this year when WURD Radio was invited to the White House on February 26 to host a day-long live broadcast featuring interviews with cabinet secretaries and other high-ranking officials, we agreed with the explicit understanding that we were not constrained to their suggested topics or talking points. We were clear that our hosts would ask difficult and provocative questions of their own determination based on the needs and interests of WURD’s listening audience — Black Philadelphians. This is a hallmark of WURD Radio’s local, state and national coverage, day in and day out.

Black media has a long history of advocating for the interests of the Black community dating back to 1827 when the first Black newspaper, Freedom’s Journal, was founded. Our outlets deserve to have a seat at the table especially because mainstream media has historically ignored, marginalized and stereotyped Black people in their coverage. A recent Pew Research Report examining Black Americans’ experiences with the news found “almost two-thirds of Black adults (63%) say news about Black people is often more negative than news about other racial and ethnic groups.”

This practice of de-legitimizing Black voices continues today. WURD Radio is not a mouthpiece for the Biden or any other Administration. Internally, we will commit to reviewing our policies, procedures, and practices to reinforce WURD’s independence and trust with our listeners. But mainstream media should do its own introspection to explore how they have lost the trust of so many Americans, Black Americans chief among them.

This experience will strengthen WURD as we seek to grow from this incident. We will continue to be the unique platform that provides Black people a place where we can speak and be heard in our own voice – on our own terms. We follow in the footsteps of Frederick Douglass who aptly wrote in the first edition of his North Star Newspaper in 1847: “It has long been our anxious wish to see, in this slave-holding, slave-trading, and negro-hating land, a printing-press and paper, permanently established, under the complete control and direction of the immediate victims of slavery and oppression.”

Black media matters. As always, we will listen, dialogue and engage with our community, bringing credible information, experts and insights to address the needs, concerns and interests of our people. This is essential as Black Philadelphians gear up to be a pivotal player in one of the most consequential elections of our lifetime.

No comments: