Reply All’s co-host PJ Vogt and producer Sruthi Pinnamaneni have left the popular podcast amid claims they contributed to a toxic workplace environment.
Vogt, who hosts the show alongside Alex Goldman and Emmanuel Dzotsi, said that he ‘deeply failed as an ally’, after The Nod host Eric Eddings accused him of attempting to stop unionisation efforts at podcasting company Gimlet Media.
Eddings spoke out after Reply All dropped the second episode of their mini-series The Test Kitchen – an investigation into Bon Appetit, which was accused of fostering an unhealthy workplace where journalists of colour were often paid less than their white counterparts.
Last year, editor-in-chief Adam Rapaport resigned, after BA Test Kitchen assistant editor Sohla El-Waylly alleged that she was paid less than white editors with less experience.
Eddings, who co-hosts Gimlet podcast The Nod, tweeted: ‘The BA staffers’ stories deserve to be told, but to me it’s damaging to have that reporting and storytelling come from two people who have actively and AGGRESSIVELY worked against multiple efforts to diversify Gimlet’s staff & content.’
He claimed that the Reply All team were an ‘island’ at Gimlet and did not use their power to speak to higher-ups in the company on behalf of others, and that they actively worked against Gimlet’s unionisation effort pre acquisition by Spotify.
Eddings said that the team ‘used their weight as a cudgel against our efforts at voluntary recognition’ and that Pinnamaneni held an anti-union meeting to encourage others to rally against it.
He also tweeted that Vogt ‘denigrated other colleagues’ and sent harassing messages to members of the union committee.
Following Eddings’ thread, Vogt tweeted: ‘Hi everyone, I deeply failed as an ally during the unionisation era at Gimlet. I did not intend t stop the unionisation effort, and I am very glad it succeeded. Today they have my support in however I can lend it. But at the time, I was a baby and a jerk about it in myriad ways. Reflecting on my behaviour, I find it humiliating.
‘I should have reflected on what it meant to not be on the same side of a movement largely led by young producers of colour at my company. I did not. Those mistakes belong to me.
‘I’ve asked for the team’s permission to step away from Reply All. The people making the show are the same people who made all the things you’ve liked, and I hope you’ll support them. They are wonderful, brilliant people.
‘I am going to take some time to think and to listen. And then I am going to try to fiure out wh O can help in podcasting and how, if they want that help . I’m not done working, but I don’t think anyone needs me taking up space right now.
‘I’m sorry to everyone I’ve disappointed.’
Pinnamaneni also shared an apology to her colleagues, tweeting: ‘To the many people of colour who shared their stories of workplace discrimination in our recent episodes: your trauma is real and deserves to be untethered from my personal shortcomings.
‘My conduct around the diversity and union organisation efforts at Gimlet was ill-informed, ignorant and hurtful. I did not pay enough attention to the people of colour with less power at Gimlet and I should have used my power to support and elevate them further.
‘For this I feel great regret. I apologise to everyone I have let down. I’m humbled by how much I still have to learn and I am committed to doing the work.’
A letter from Gilmet managing director Lydia Polgreen, shared with the Hollywood Reporter, confirmed that Vogt was taking a leave of absence from Reply All, and claimed that the Test Kitchen series was supposed to be Pinnamaneni’s last with Reply All before she moved to other projects.
She wrote: ‘From the moment I arrived at Gimlet, it was clear that our culture needed work, and that there were big things that needed to change to make this a better, more equitable place. We have spent a lot of time working to make those changes in partnership with many of you. These events are a reminder of how much work remains.
‘At Gimlet, we make creative work in collaborative teams. That work is really rewarding and also hard. It involves honest and sometimes difficult conversations. But those conversations must happen with respect. No person at Gimlet or Spotify is too important or powerful to escape accountability for their behaviour, very much including me.
‘These events are also a reminder that we are in the midst of a collective bargaining process that is by its nature confrontational. We sit across the table from each other and negotiate. But I know that the people who organised the union are motivated by a desire to make Gimlet better. We may disagree about the specifics of how to achieve that goal, but we are united in wanting to make Gimlet the best place for the most ambitious creators of audio to work. I believe that thanks to hard work on both sides we have made a lot of progress.’
It is unclear whether Vogt will return to the show.
Reply All – ‘a podcast about the internet’ – debuted back in November 2014 and has just released its 173rd episode.
It is downloaded around 5 million times a month, and has received critical acclaim, particularly for its 2020 episode The Case of the Missing Hit, which went viral with its attempt to help a man who was trying to recognise a song he knew all the words to, but had disappeared from the internet.
Credit: Original article published here.