stats
globeinteractive.com: Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail /globeandmail.com
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space


Search

space
  This site         Tips

  
space
  The Web Google
space
   space



space

  Where to Find It


Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business

  Sports

  Technology

space
Subscribe to The Globe

Shop at our Globe Store


Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business

  National

  International

  Sports

  Arts & Entertainment

  Editorials

  Columnists

   Headline Index

 Other Sections
  Appointments

  Births & Deaths

  Books

  Classifieds

  Comment

  Education

  Environment

  Facts & Arguments

  Focus

  Health

  Obituaries

  Real Estate

  Review

  Science

  Style

  Technology

  Travel

  Wheels

 Leisure
  Cartoon

  Crosswords

  Food & Dining

  Golf

  Horoscopes

  Movies

  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...

space

Services
   Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site

 Newspaper
  Advertise

  Corrections

  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us

  Reprints

  Subscriptions

 Web Site
  Advertise

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Globe Store New

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


GiveLife.ca

    

PRINT EDITION
Toronto's JAZZ.FM91 CEO steps down
space
Ross Porter denies move was prompted by investigation; accusers express anger over his continued ties to station
space
By SIMON HOUPT, MARSHA LEDERMAN
  
  

Email this article Print this article
Friday, June 8, 2018 – Page A6

Long-time broadcaster Ross Porter stepped down last week from his position as president and CEO of Toronto's JAZZ.FM91 radio station on the heels of a third-party workplace investigation, a probe spurred by a letter from more than a dozen current and former employees alleging he had sexually harassed staff and created a toxic workplace.

In a statement posted to its website on May 30, the not-forprofit jazz station said Mr. Porter, a former CBC radio host who took over as head of JAZZ.FM91 in 2004, "will now spend more time with his family and his ailing wife," who has cancer. He has been granted the honorary title of president emeritus and will continue to host his Saturday morning show, Music to Listen to Jazz By.

Charles Cutts, the former president and chief executive officer of the Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall, has been appointed interim CEO of the station.

In a statement to The Globe and Mail, Mr. Porter denied that the changes were prompted by the investigation.

But the eight former and five current employees, who call themselves the JAZZ.FM Collective, say the changes do not go far enough, arguing that Mr. Porter's alleged misbehaviour should rule out any continuing association with the station.

The investigation began last March after the group wrote to the board of directors to allege "ongoing workplace harassment, sexual harassment, bullying, and general mismanagement of the station" by Mr. Porter. The letter also alleged the station's vicepresident of finance and operations, Sharda Prashad, board chair Bernard Webber and vicechair Renah Persofsky had enabled Mr. Porter's alleged behaviour.

"The work environment at the station has become intolerable.

However, past complaints have gone unheeded," they alleged in the letter, a copy of which they shared with The Globe.

Some of them told The Globe that Mr. Porter regularly initiated sexually graphic conversations, engaged in unwanted touching and made jokes suggesting that employees should sleep with the station's supporters. During meetings at which staff would pitch promotional or programming concepts, he would exhort them to come up with ideas that would "make me horny." They also alleged he would frequently reduce staff to tears, humiliate them in front of co-workers and berate announcers during commercial breaks.

"I consider many of these accusations to be isolated, distorted and manipulated out of context," Mr. Porter said in a statement he e-mailed to The Globe on Wednesday.

The group said that more than 40 employees "have either resigned abruptly under duress, been fired abruptly or have left their employment with the station because it was untenable" in the previous "5+ years."

The letter also alleged that some employees who had reported concerns to the station's board of directors or legal counsel faced "threats of legal action or other retribution" by Mr. Porter. It alleged that Mr. Porter and Ms. Prashad practised an "US vs.

THEM" management style that created "a climate of fear, intimidation, retaliation, gaslighting and threat of reprisals." Staff also perceived that Ms. Prashad was especially loyal to Mr. Porter, precluding them from taking concerns about him to her.

The letter alleged that the reputation of the radio station, a registered charity that depends on donations for more than 50 per cent of its annual revenue, was suffering after word of the discord had begun to spread among musicians, volunteers and donors.

After receiving the letter, the station's board hired employment lawyer Jennifer MacKenzie to conduct an investigation. The board said Ms. MacKenzie interviewed 27 people.

As the investigation got under way, Ms. Persofsky assumed the role of board chair and served as interim CEO for a month, which included direct management of human resources at the station - despite being one of the four subjects of the probe. In that position, she oversaw employees who had made allegations against her.

John Sadler, a JAZZ.FM91 board member, defended the move, telling The Globe: "Ms. Persofsky volunteered to provide this oversight and our legal counsel confirmed it was appropriate for her to do so." He added: "By naming a broad cross-section of the organization's senior leaders in their complaint, it appeared that one of the ambitions of the Collective was to decapitate the management of the station. The board could not allow that to happen."

Ms. MacKenzie delivered her report in April.

In a statement to The Globe made on behalf of the board, Mr. Sadler wrote that "the Investigation Report of Findings concluded that many of the complaints were unsubstantiated while others warranted further consideration and action. Where the findings substantiated aspects of the complaint, the board has taken corrective action."

In a follow-up statement, he noted "the report concluded that the complaints [against Ms. Prashad] were not substantiated by the findings." He added that "Ms. MacKenzie made no findings of any wrongdoing against either Ms. Persofsky or Mr. Webber."

Attempts to reach Mr. Webber, Ms. Persofsky and Ms. Prashad directly were unsuccessful.

In addition to Mr. Porter's change in status, which included leaving the board, Mr. Webber was permanently replaced by Ms. Persofsky as chair, although he remains on the board.

In his statement to The Globe, Mr. Porter said: "My stepping aside is not related to the investigation. I have a son who did three tours in Afghanistan and experiences PTSD, and my wife is suffering from stage-four brain cancer. I had been having discussions with key individuals at the station for over a year about my role and with the added stress brought into my life I stepped aside to take care of my family."

Asked for comment, the board, citing personnel matters, did not directly address the reasons for Mr. Porter's change in duties.

In a series of interviews, members of the group of former and current employees told The Globe they were upset by the lack of postinvestigation clarity from management, noting that employees were advised in a contentious meeting last week that Mr. Porter might continue to be a prominent face of the station in its fundraising drives and other public activities. They felt it was especially inappropriate to give him an honorary title in light of how employees had allegedly suffered under his management.

On Sunday, the group sent a letter to the board expressing its disappointment with the outcome of the investigation and asking for the release of Ms.

MacKenzie's report. "Based on how you propose to move forward, we feel the investigation and allegations were not taken seriously."

On Monday afternoon, in a letter it shared with The Globe, the board refused the request, writing that Ms. MacKenzie's interview subjects "did not consent to the disclosure of their comments outside the investigation process and we will not breach their rights to confidentiality and privacy. Accordingly, the investigator's report will not be released."

The continuing upheaval comes amid the station's annual spring fundraising drive, which kicked off last Saturday.

JAZZ.FM91 had about 143,000 daily listeners during the most recent ratings period, which ended May 27, according to national ratings service Numeris. Its 2.1-percent share of the Toronto audience is up more than 100 per cent from the same period a year earlier.

Associated Graphic

Ross Porter, seen in 2005, took over as head of JAZZ.FM91 in 2004. An investigation began last March after employees and former employees accused Mr. Porter of harassment.

KEVIN VAN PAASSEN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


Huh? How did I get here?
Return to Main Allan_Maki Page
Subscribe to
The Globe and Mail
 

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement
space

Need CPR for your RSP? Check your portfolio’s pulse and lower yours by improving the overall health of your investments. Click here.

Advertisement

7-Day Site Search
    

Breaking News



Today's Weather


Inside

Rick Salutin
Merrily marching
off to war
Roy MacGregor
Duct tape might hold
when panic strikes


Editorial
Where Manley is going with his first budget




space

Columnists



For a columnist's most recent stories, click on their name below.

 National


Roy MacGregor arrow
This Country
space
Jeffrey Simpson arrow
The Nation
space
Margaret Wente arrow
Counterpoint
space
Hugh Winsor  arrow
The Power Game
space
 Business


Rob Carrick arrow
Personal Finance
space
Drew Fagan arrow
The Big Picture
space
Mathew Ingram arrow
space
Brent Jang arrow
Business West
space
Brian Milner arrow
Taking Stock
space
Eric Reguly arrow
To The Point
space
Andrew Willis arrow
Streetwise
space
 Sports


Stephen Brunt arrow
The Game
space
Eric Duhatschek arrow
space
Allan Maki arrow
space
William Houston arrow
Truth & Rumours
space
Lorne Rubenstein arrow
Golf
space
 The Arts


John Doyle arrow
Television
space
John MacLachlan Gray arrow
Gray's Anatomy
space
David Macfarlane arrow
Cheap Seats
space
Johanna Schneller arrow
Moviegoer
space
 Comment


Murray Campbell arrow
Ontario Politics
space
Lysiane Gagnon arrow
Inside Quebec
space
Marcus Gee arrow
The World
space
William Johnson arrow
Pit Bill
space
Paul Knox arrow
Worldbeat
space
Heather Mallick arrow
As If
space
Leah McLaren arrow
Generation Why
space
Rex Murphy arrow
Japes of Wrath
space
Rick Salutin arrow
On The Other Hand
space
Paul Sullivan arrow
The West
space
William Thorsell arrow
space





Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page