Teacher Union Pressure Leads To NJ 101.5 Host Withdrawing From Student Event
May 25, 2010 at 11:28 AM (PT)
MILLENIUM Talk WKXW (NEW JERSEY 101.5)/TRENTON weekend host BIG JOE HENRY doesn't talk about politics on his show, instead playing the station's weekend Classic Hits format, but threatened teacher union protests over the station's weekday talk shows have forced him to withdraw from hosting a student awards event, the COUNT BASIE THEATRE AWARDS ("The BASIES"), in RED BANK WEDNESDAY night. Teacher unions are upset that the weekday hosts have been supporting Gov. CHRIS CHRISTIE's proposed budget cuts that include wage freezes and partial benefits payments for teachers.
The ASBURY PARK PRESS reports that a letter to theater officials from REGINA MCALLEN, a music teacher at HOWELL HIGH SCHOOL, complained that "The company that signs BIG JOE HENRY's paycheck has a very clear agenda, which is evident from their choice of hosts and the topics that they discuss on a daily basis. To even suggest that NJ 101.5 is a fair and balanced source of media is ludicrous. Its Republican agenda is consistent and unwavering, with a unified vision that demeans public education and educators."
PD ERIC JOHNSON told the PRESS, "The station doesn't pick an opinion, though we do hire hosts who have opinions. Except BOG JOE doesn't get into any of that. He plays music, tells jokes, introduces the traffic report, and he does a countless amount of charity work, going to events where he shakes hands and kisses babies. So it seems to be a stretch to connect him with a position on the teachers union." HENRY posted a message on the station's website reading, "I offered to step down as host to preserve the integrity of the event. It's about the kids, not the political forum that some of these teachers want to make it. This is one of the most disheartening, maddening events of my professional career. The narrow-minded, bullying tactics of some teachers disgusts me."