By Tom Warner (Baltimore or Less, October 21, 2010)This just in from David Zurawik in today’s Baltimore Sun: “Baltimore broadcaster Lisa Simeone confirmed Thursday that she had been fired by the public radio series “Soundprint” as a result of her activities with a group involved in the Occupy D.C. protest.”
The heat apparently came from National Public Radio, which carries the nationally syndicated program over its network and claims that Simeone violated its code of ethics – even though Simeone, who also hosts North Carolina classical station WDAV’s “World of Opera” program (also carried by NPR), is a freelance contractor who doesn’t work for NPR. As she told Zurawik, “I’m not an NPR employee…I’m a freelancer. NPR doesn’t pay me. I’m also not a news reporter. I don’t cover politics. I’ve never brought a whiff of my political activities into the work I’ve done for NPR “World of Opera.” What is NPR afraid I’ll do – insert a seditious comment into a synopsis of Madame Butterfly?”
Read more of Zurawik’s Sun article at “Public radio series fires broadcaster over Occupy DC role.”
But Lisa Simeone is a national personality with nationally syndicated programs, so this is far from a local matter; in fact, the Huffington Post published this detailed account of the “firing” yesterday:
Lisa Simeone, a freelance content provider for a pair of radio shows that are broadcast by National Public Radio, is under fire today for her tangential participation in the OccupyDC movement. Simeone, who has worked in radio for over two decades, is the host of a WDAV radio show called “World Of Opera,” and a freelancer for a program called “Soundprint”. She also participates in an activist organization called “Stop The Machine,” which is part of the broader Occupy movement.
Simeone has, for a long time, blended her love for grassroots political activism with her talent for radio, without anyone objecting. Her involvement in the Occupy movement, however, seems to have been deemed by NPR to be a bridge too far. That NPR has a history of hasty personnel decisions and a pathological aversion to their employees being publicly exposed as having opinions surely does not help.
Sure enough, the hammer is being lowered, and it’s being lowered rather awkwardly. Simeone, as it happens, is not an NPR employee, so what appears to be happening is that they are putting pressure on her employers to get rid of her. Wednesday night, she was fired from “Soundprint,” despite the fact that the show isn’t produced by NPR. According to reports, Simeone was read the NPR code of ethics at the time of her dismissal.
Continue reading the Huffington Post’s “Lisa Simeone Under Fire from National Public Radio for Part in D.C. Protests, Remains ‘World of Opera’ Host.”
Also, be sure to check out Washington Post writer Erik Wemple’s humorous op-ed post on how Simeone’s political activism might “corrupt” the “World of Opera.” Here’s a sample excerpt: “Public radio listeners! Have you long worried that your station was undermining capitalism through its broadcasts of the Ring Cycle? Tired of having your children brainwashed by the socialistic messages of La Traviata?”
Read more of Wemple’s post at “NPR, Lisa Simeone and opera: Plenty of opportunity for bias! ”