Kravetz steps down as GM of WBUR

BU vague on why builder of public radio powerhouse had to go

CHARLIE KRAVETZ, who helped WBUR grow into a public radio powerhouse, is
out as the station’s general manager.

In a joint statement, Boston University, which owns the radio station license, and Kravetz cited the opening of a new meeting venue called CitySpace and the conclusion of a union organizing campaign at WBUR as events that precipitated the change in top management.

“Both Boston University and Mr. Kravetz agreed that it was an appropriate time for a transition, his to pursue new options, and BU to new leadership at Boston’s public radio station,” the statement said.

WBUR employees learned of the 66-year-old Kravetz’s departure at a staff meeting that Kravetz did not attend. He will officially relinquish his position June 30; the joint statement said he would be available for consultations with his interim replacement, Sam Fleming, the director of news and programming, but would not be coming into the office regularly.

Paul La Camera, who preceded Kravetz as general manager and continued to advise the station, said in an email to friends that Kravetz was leaving “under unfortunate circumstances.” La Camera also said he would be leaving the station along with his longtime friend, according to a WBUR report.  “It’s just too sad and too uncomfortable for me to remain here,” he said.

Kravetz’s departure may have been an outgrowth of the way the station handled the dismissal of Tom Ashbrook as host of On Point following reports of abusive behavior. Ashbrook was placed on leave in December 2017 and removed in February 2018 for creating an “abusive work environment.”

At the time, Boston University did not announce any changes in management, even though current and former employees said managers had dismissed their complaints about Ashbrook. Kravetz took personal responsibility for improper oversight of Ashbrook, but added that it was a breakdown of management in general. “It wasn’t just me,” he said. “We all failed to successfully address this issue and we have to collectively take responsibility for that.”

In September 2018, consultants hired by Boston University released a plan for addressing the station’s work environment and the general manager was among five areas of focus. Employees at WBUR voted overwhelmingly last month to form a union.

Meghna Chakrabarti, who replaced Ashbrook as host of On Point, called Kravetz a mentor and said his leadership is a key reason WBUR is not struggling while many other media outlets are.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

“We’re bucking the trend,” Chakrabarti told WBUR. “This is a great place to work. We’ve had our ups and downs for sure, but it’s a healthy journalistic organization and I would credit Charlie Kravetz for leading the way on that.”

Kravetz joined WBUR as general manager in 2010 following stints at WCVB-TV and NECN-TV. WBUR reported that during Kravetz’ s eight years in the job the station’s operating revenue increased 91 percent to $39.5 million and WBUR added 61 staffers. The station recently announced that its current capital campaign has already raised $28 million.