Tim Eby Replaced As St. Louis Public Radio GM After Allegations Of Racism At The Station
Updated at 7:02 p.m. Sept. 25 with information regarding Tim Eby's continued role at the station and comments from UMSL Chancellor Kristin Sobolik
Tim Eby, general manager at St. Louis Public Radio, was removed from his post Thursday after coming under fire alongside other station leaders over allegations of a “legacy of structural racism” at the station.
Tom Livingston, a two-time former vice chairman of the National Public Radio Board of Directors and chief executive officer of Livingston Associates, is now the station's interim general manager.
Eby will continue to work in a six-month consultancy role at the station in order to provide continuity and transition on pending matters, projects and operations, according to a Friday afternoon press release. Details of Eby’s severance or termination package were not released.
“Now is a time to look forward and [to] best align the work of the station with the needs of our community as well as the academic, research, service and outreach mission of the university,” University of Missouri-St. Louis Chancellor Kristin Sobolik said in the release.
The announcement regarding Livingston's temporary appointment was made to St. Louis Public Radio staff in a Thursday morning email from Paul Herring, UMSL vice chancellor of advancement. “Tom will begin meeting with station leaders, teams and staff members this week to listen, engage and build a foundation to move forward together,” Herring wrote.
In an Aug. 7 public statement, a group of the station’s reporters and producers, all people of color, detailed racist incidents they have experienced at the station. Eby was described by the group as someone who could “make necessary changes to policies and practices” in order to “transform the station into a diverse, inclusive, and equitable place to work.” But, the journalists allege, he chose to maintain “white supremacy at the station by remaining complacent with the status quo.”
Despite St. Louis Public Radio having received a $450,000 grant in 2017 from the Corporation of Public Broadcasting (to be shared with three other public radio stations), with the goal of diversifying the newsroom, the employees said little changed. The group said the station’s newsroom had been composed solely of white journalists until 2013.
In response, UMSL administration hired the St. Louis-based law firm Tueth Keeney to evaluate diversity, equity and inclusion practices at the station; the university holds the station's licenses. After expressing concerns about the law firm and the investigative process, a group of 21 St. Louis Public Radio employees sent a letter to university leadership saying they have no confidence in the firm’s external investigation.
Their objections were based, in part, on the firm’s “failure to acknowledge and rectify” an incident in which an employee who requested a witness during an investigative interview was denied. Staff members reportedly have also not been offered the right to legal representation, witnesses or mediators.
In addition, the group said there was no guarantee from the university that employees wouldn’t face retaliation for material disclosed during the investigation and noted that there was “unclear and inconsistent” messaging about the extent station leaders and staff are required to participate in the investigation.
When asked about the change in leadership, UMSL spokesman Bob Samples said it “represents the first step toward resetting the direction and operation of the station to more closely align to the mission and values of the university.”
Eby became the manager at St. Louis Public Radio in January 2009. He was previously the station manager at WOSU at The Ohio State University and station manager at WVPE in South Bend, Ind., where he worked for more than 21 years.
No other St. Louis Public Radio employees have been replaced since the allegations against the station were brought forward. The external investigation by Tueth Keeney is ongoing.
Livingston and Sobolik will work together in a national search for the next general manager at St. Louis Public Radio, according to the Friday release.
Brian Munoz is a freelance journalist in southern Illinois.
Editor's note: This story was reported by freelance reporter Brian Munoz and edited by Ellen Sweets, who are working independently, without oversight from station managers or editors. Newsroom editors hired them to cover the story of Tim Eby's departure from St. Louis Public Radio and the allegations of systemic racism at the station.