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'First Edition' host Sean Yoes resigns at WEAA-FM

“First Edition” host Sean Yoes resigned from Morgan State University radio station WEAA-FM at the end of his show Friday night.

Both Yoes and DeWayne Wickham, dean of the School of Global Journalism & Communication at Morgan State, confirmed Saturday that the talk show host was no longer with the campus radio station. But they disagreed on the reasons for Yoes’ departure.

Wickham characterized Yoes leaving as the result of a disagreement over the editing of audio clips that aired on his show this week. The clips involved the use of the n-word in audio related to a Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article from the Atlantic magazine.

Wickham said station management believed the term, which appeared multiple times, would be “bleeped” when the audio aired, But, in fact, it was not. Wickham said station management wanted to have a conversation about the matter with Yoes, but instead the show host resigned Friday.

“The general manager sent an email to him, but he did not come in to talk about it,” Wickham said Saturday.

Yoes said Saturday that the “n-bomb” did air several times in audio excerpts on his show, but that it was not intentional. He said he thought the edits had been made.

“We didn’t do that with malice,” he said.

But he added, the disagreement over the editing of those excerpts “had zero to do with my resignation.”

Yoes, who is Baltimore editor of The Afro newspaper, said he resigned because of “profound differences with the direction of WEAA right now.”

The station is poised to launch wide-ranging changes in its programming starting on Oct. 2, which have resulted in cancellations of some shows and new duties for some staffers.

One the highest-visibility moves was the non-renewal of Marc Steiner’s contract, which resulted in his departure July 31. But some community producers who hosted specialty shows in genres like blues and jazz once a week resigned or were dropped in the revamped lineup.

Yoes’ “First Edition” was to be cut from two hours a night to one starting Oct. 2. The show had been airing live from 5 to 7 p.m. weeknights with a replay the next day from 10 a.m. to noon in the time slot Steiner’s show had held.

Yoes said he was troubled by “the level of disrespect shown” to some of those other hosts who were “unceremoniously gotten rid of.” And, he added, he felt management did not appreciate how deeply his show connected to the lives of residents in Baltimore with its commitment to covering issues of poverty, housing, homicides and law enforcement reform.

“In the grand scheme of things, those are the reasons I signed off,” he said.

Yoes had been host of the daily version of “First Edition” for three years. But he hosted the weekly version for four years before it went daily.

Wickham said starting Monday, “First Edition” will be replaced from 10 a.m. to noon by “1a,” the NPR show that WEAA was scheduled to move into that time period on Oct. 2.

A temporary show hosted by Marc Clarke, a New York radio host who recently moved back to the Mid-Atlantic area, will air next week from 5 to 7 p.m. weeknights.

Yoes said he would be launching a podcast at The Afro starting Oct. 9.

Update: The following email was sent to WEAA staffers at 6:37 p.m. by Mireille Grangenois, interim general manager:

Everyone

By now you know Sean Yoes resigned Friday. We wish him well in his new endeavors.

We are moving forward with our plans.

Monday from 10am-noon we will soft launch 1a from NPR. Kudos to Malarie and Mike for being so ready with our new NPR programming.

From 5-7pm all week the beloved Marc Clarke will return to Baltimore to host a showcase of all our new shows coming October 2.

I know each of you is exhibiting the highest degree of professionalism amid substantial change, and modeling those standards for one another and the students working alongside us.

I am most grateful to you.

Onward.

Mireille

david.zurawik@baltsun.com

twitter.com/davidzurawik

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