Do you know D.C.?
Get our free newsletter to stay in the know about local D.C.
The last several years have been precarious for WPFW, D.C.’s long-running and long-suffering “jazz and justice” station. While WPFW feuded internally late last year as General Manager John Hughes attempted to overhaul the programming grid—more justice, less jazz—and again this April as he tried to transplant the station to Silver Spring, listeners, at least, have been the beneficiaries of WPFW’s unique approach to transparency. Every time its volunteer programmers are angry at the station’s administration, they simply talk about it on the air. To their relief, the Silver Spring deal—unpopular because it involved subleasing from a subsidiary of radio behemoth Clear Channel—fell apart in the spring, so the station moved to a temporary studio near Farragut Square. But its various woes—money, morale, a shrinking audience—have continued, coming to a head in September with the effective firing of Hughes. The new interim GM faces a daunting, but important, task: to turn around a station with often excellent music programming and an important tradition as D.C.’s progressive black radio voice. With the canning of Hughes, one change was notable: After the head of WPFW’s parent foundation sent a memo begging programmers not to air the station’s dirty laundry, for once they complied. “We don’t want that,” the head of its oversight board said. “We just want to move forward.”