Updated 3:30 p.m.
Controversy has erupted this week over a public radio music announcer’s involvement with protests in Washington, and there’s a Davidson angle. Lisa Simeone is the free-lance host of NPR’s “World of Opera,” which is produced at Davidson-based classical music station WDAV-FM. She still has that job, though she was fired from another contract gig at Washington’s WAMU-FM.
Ms. Simeone, a longtime NPR announcer who lives in Baltimore, is now a free-lancer. In recent weeks she has been involved with the protests in Washington related to the Occupy Wall Street movement. That aroused questions among conservatives and National Public Radio executives about whether she is violating NPR’s Code of Ethics.
But she told The Associated Press she is not a news reporter. “I don’t cover news. In none of the shows that I do, do I cover the news,” she told the AP. “What is NPR afraid I’ll do? Insert a seditious comment into a synopsis of ‘Madame Butterfly?’”
Ms. Simeone said Thursday morning she has been fired from her job as the host of “Soundprint,” a music documentary program produced at NPR affiliate WAMU-FM in Washington.
But she remains the host of “World of Opera.” WDAV in Davidson took over production of the show in January 2010. The show is distributed by NPR.
NPR issued a statement Wednesday saying it was working with WDAV to resolve the issue. WDAV responded with its own statement Thursday that said the same:
“WDAV and NPR have different missions. WDAV respects NPR’s mission to serve as a leading news provider. WDAV on the other hand, exists to serve as a leading provider of arts and cultural programming nationally and internationally. Based on the differing missions of these two organizations, we are working together to find a solution to the issues surrounding ‘World of Opera.’”
WDAV spokesperson Lisa Gray told DavidsonNews.net that Ms. Simeone is an independent contractor and wasn’t violating any terms of her contract. She later provided a second statement that said Ms. Simeone remains the program’s host:
As host of “World of Opera,” Lisa Simeone is an independent contractor of WDAV Classical Public Radio. Ms. Simeone’s activities outside of this job are not in violation of any of WDAV’s employee codes and have had no effect on her job performance at WDAV. Ms. Simeone remains the host of World of Opera.
Oct. 20, 2011, Poynter.org, Jim Romenesko column, “NPR host fired from show after becoming spokesperson for ‘Occupy DC’”
Oct. 20, 2011, Associated Press (via Google News), Freelancer heard on NPR stations fired for protest”
Oct. 21, 2011, WFAE.org, “WDAV Keeps World of Opera Host; Activism Prompts NPR to Reevaluate Program.”