Jonetta Rose Barras, the fiery veteran D.C. political analyst, has been fired by her bosses at WAMU-FM, where she served as co-host of the Friday noon show The Politics Hour With Kojo and Jonetta. Her departure is effective immediately, and the station has changed the name of the show to The Politics Hour.
Barras says that her dismissal was prompted by her persistent appeals for better pay, not to mention a rocky relationship with WAMU Program Director Mark McDonald. “My problems were with the program manager, who had no appreciation for the amount of work I did, the quality of that work, and my reputation, and believed that I should be paid less than a senior career person,” says Barras.
The sharp-tongued Barras has never been afraid to confront power—she did it every week on the airwaves—and she apparently didn’t keep quiet about what she saw as workplace injustices. She says she watched as WAMU staffers who did less work got paid more than she did. Behind the alleged disparities, she says, lie racial and gender discrimination on part of the WAMU leadership.
“I do believe that there was some discrimination involved in the way that I was handled by the program [director] and the senior management,” she says. Barras says she had no problem whatsoever with co-host Kojo Nnamdi and staffers who put together their show.
Barras’ dispute with WAMU follows a classic ’00s model. Over time, says Barras, her managers at WAMU expanded her responsibilities. Whereas the show was once titled The D.C. Politics Hour With Kojo and Jonetta, the station subsequently expanded its scope to include Maryland and Virginia, rechristening it as The Politics Hour With Kojo and Jonetta. Though Barras thus gained two big jurisdictions to cover, her compensation didn’t experience a comparable gain. “They changed the name of the show and scope of the show and then were pissed off because I was asking for more money,” says Barras, who has also worked extensively for Washington City Paper over the years.
McDonald declined to comment, citing the manager’s personnel comment exemption. A statement released by the station is light on details, saying only that Barras “is leaving” WAMU.