WAMU director let go Thursday

Susan Clampitt was relieved of her duties as executive director at WAMU Thursday after The Washington Post exposed a financial deficit and morale problems at AU's public radio station, said Todd Sedmak, director of AU Media Relations.

The staff, upon hearing the announcement by President Benjamin Ladner at a meeting Thursday afternoon, gave a standing ovation, The Post reported Friday.

Ladner appointed his Chief of Staff, David Taylor, as interim director, Sedmak said.

"Following a meeting with the president Thursday morning, she [Clampitt] stepped aside," Taylor said. "The president then asked that the station report to me in my capacity as Chief of Staff."

The University will be determining a plan to find Clampitt's permanent replacement over the next few weeks, Taylor said.

Clampitt, who arrived at the station in June 2000, defended her work and managerial style in a statement in Friday's Post.

"This decision made by ... Ladner signals a retreat from the vision that both he and I shared for the long-term growth of WAMU," Clampitt said in her statement.

While listenership and fundraising improved during Clampitt's tenure, the station faced operating deficits in each of the last three fiscal years and depleted $4 million in cash reserves. Also, some staffers expressed concern about Clampitt's management style.

Program Director Mark McDonald declined to comment, and News Director Kevin Beesley was unavailable for comment.

Taylor, Chief of Staff for the past eight years, said he will spend regular hours during the week at the station addressing individual concerns in addition to his work in the president's office.

He promised to work with each individual unit at the station - the newsroom, on-air talent and the budget, fundraising and marketing offices - to see what their issues may be.

"Obviously the budget concerns are of importance to me," Taylor said. "We ran up some red ink and need to turn that black."

While Taylor has never had managerial influence over WAMU - the station previously reported to Vice President of Enrollment Services Tom Myers, who resigned in September - he said he is confident about the future success of the station.

"I feel very strongly that we've got a really great staff and great programming," he said. "The staff's sense of responsibility is very strong"

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