There has been a major shake-up in the podcasting world. Two of the hosts of the extremely popular Reply All podcast are leaving the show, after former coworkers publicly called them out for creating a toxic work culture and undermining earlier union efforts. All while reporting, ironically enough, about Bon Appétit and their toxic culture for Reply All’s “The Test Kitchen” series.
Co-host P.J. Vogt said Wednesday night he was leaving the show, according to The New York Times, and tweeted that he “deeply failed as an ally” when workers of Gimlet, the podcasting company that produces Reply All, were unionizing.
— PJ Vogt (@PJVogt) February 18, 2021
“At the time, I was a baby and a jerk about it in myriad ways,” Vogt wrote. “I should have reflected on what it meant to not be on the same side of a movement largely led by young producers of color at my company. I did not.” As a result, he is going to “step away” from Reply All.
Sruthi Pinnamaneni, who allegedly also stood in the way of the union effort, also put out a statement Wednesday night. Pinnamaneni called her actions “ill-informed, ignorant and hurtful.” She will be stepping away from the show as well.
Starting February 4th, Reply All began reporting about the toxic, racist climate at Bon Appétit bi-weekly, with the most recent episode coming out last Friday.
Then Eric Eddings, a former Gimlet employee and co-host of The Nod, tweeted out about Gimlet’s union efforts and how PJ and the Reply All team crafted their own toxic workplace, which was backed up by several former colleagues on twitters as well.
Last week I got an email from Sruthi about Reply All’s Test Kitchen series. I had been avoiding listening but once I did I felt gaslit. The truth is RA and specifically PJ and Sruthi contributed to a near identical toxic dynamic at Gimlet. This will be a longer thread, apologies.
— Eric Eddings (@eeddings) February 16, 2021
Several former colleagues spoke out on Twitter in support of Mr. Eddings and employees of color and other minority groups at the company.
I am a fan of Reply All and I was also a fan of The Nod. I have enjoyed how each episode of Reply All (when they come out) is different in terms of topic, even though I prefer “Yes Yes No” and tech-related stories. The Bon Appétit story has been polarizing by many. The official Reddit for Reply All has gone back and forth about the journalistic intent, merit, and storytelling experience it has been thus far, and whether they have proven racism at Bon Appétit or are just describing an ordinary office experience.
The whole internet loves Bon Appetit, a cute test kitchen that makes food! *3 years later* We regret to inform you the test kitchen is racist. *1 year* The whole internet loves Test Kitchen, the exposè exploring racism at BA! *2 days* We regret to inform you the exposè is racist
— ahmed ali akbar (@radbrowndads) February 17, 2021
The reporting on Bon Appétit I have found enlightening, because many of the experiences resonated for me and I am well-versed in feeling silent simmering rage in the face of micro-aggressions. While I understand the complaints of a lack of a white voice in terms of a journalistic angle, I also just found a lot of the stuff being described as a combination of micro-aggressions and the tension of working in a space like Bon Appétit.
This is why I also understood why Eric Eddings made that series of tweets. It can be very frustrating seeing someone point out these issues, but not recognize that sometimes the call is coming from inside the room.
So what does this mean? Well, I hope that the people at Gilmet and Reply All use their power and influence to speak on this issue on the record and help create a more positive work environment. No one was calling for anyone to be “canceled.” It was asking for them to be publically accountable as they flex social justice clout with this new coverage.
That is not the same as asking for being canceled and shows how unconcerned people are with the actual issue if they are just harassing Eddings.
PJ did NOT apologize to me. He simply told me I was right which I already knew. I didn’t ask for him to be “canceled” I wanted the team to be honest in their journalism and respect the weight and people involved in the type of story they CHOSE to tell. https://t.co/Uhcwd9WcVx
— Eric Eddings (@eeddings) February 18, 2021
I hope that the Reply All team uses their massive platform to acknowledge everything in the way they do best. If they have learned, then teach. That is how their healing and accountability can start.
(via The New York Times, image: Spotify/Gimlet Media)
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