October 17, 2002

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WYSO news director resigns

Award-winning WYSO News Director Aileen LeBlanc has announced that she’s leaving the local National Public Radio station.

“I’m leaving because of problems with management,” said LeBlanc, who gave General Manager Steve Spencer her resignation on Sunday, effective the end of the month. “The decision was not made due to one incident but a series of issues and problems.”

She would not comment specifically about the problems.

LeBlanc, who lives in Yellow Springs and has worked for WYSO since 1999, said that she has no other job possibilities at the moment.

“The most important thing is that I love my work and my job here,” she said in an interview. “But I can’t continue to work in this environment. I’m going to miss it like crazy.”

Antioch University Vice Chancellor Glenn Watts, who oversees the station, said, “We’re very sorry Aileen has decided to leave us. She’s done marvelous stories and has been a real asset. We will continue the work she’s begun.

Regarding LeBlanc’s assertion of difficulties with management, Watts said, “That’s a personnel matter and I can’t speak to that.”

Spencer did not return phone calls seeking comments for this article. In Monday’s Dayton Daily News, he said, “The station was informed yesterday that its news director Aileen LeBlanc will be leaving the staff at the end of this month. The station today commenced a nationwide search for her replacement.”

LeBlanc and her local news program, “Sounds Local,” which airs Fridays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 7:30 a.m., have won a bevy of broadcasting awards this year alone. For the third year in a row, “Sounds Local” was named the best weekly news program in a national competition sponsored by the Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, or PRNDI. Individual “Sounds Local” segments took first place for best hard feature and for enterprise. LeBlanc was awarded second place by the organization for her commentary following the Sept. 11 tragedy.

This year “Sounds Local” also won first place for public affairs programming from the Ohio Society for Professional Journalism, which awarded individual segments of the show first place for social justice reporting and for coverage of minority issues.

The Ohio Educational Telecommunications Association recognized LeBlanc as Producer of the Year in 2001. The group also awarded “Sounds Local” first place as Program of the Year and as the best weekly arts and cultural affairs program.

“This is a great loss for the station,” said Steve Bogner of Keep WYSO Local, a group of WYSO supporters who have worked to restore local volunteer-hosted programming that Spencer removed last spring. The group has also expressed concern over decision-making and management styles at WYSO.

“This seems to be part of WYSO management’s pattern of treating people with disrespect and attempting to silence dissenting voices,” Bognar said. “Our great fear is that the station will continue to lose good people.”


—Diane Chiddister