Due to a threatened protest by teachers, WKXW-FM “New Jersey 101.5” host Big Joe Henry has withdrawn as host of the 5th annual Count Basie Theatre Awards for high school performers in Red Bank, NJ. The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), the area teacher’s union, had charged that the station has a right-wing political bias.
According to local news reports, Henry himself has not spoken against the NJEA on his show, although other personalities on the Millennium New Jersey-owned station have.
“The company that signs Big Joe Henry’s paycheck has a very clear agenda, which is evident from their choice of hosts and topics that they discuss on a daily basis,” charged Regina McAllen, a local music teacher who led the attempt to have Henry removed as host.
“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,” said Henry in a posting on the station website. “This is one of the most disheartening, maddening events of my professional career. The narrow-minded, bullying tactics of some teachers disgusts me,” he added.
As a result, the awards show on Wednesday (5/26) will take place without a host.
“On his own merits, Big Joe exemplifies the kind of person that we hope all the students in the Basie Awards will grow up to be. He is an involved citizen donating his time and energy to countless NJ charities. The selfless act of first volunteering to host, and then volunteering to step down so the event can remain focused on the students is, in my mind, admirable,” said Count Basie Theatre CEO Numa Saisselin on the organization’s website.
RBR-TVBR observation: The teachers should be ashamed of themselves for politicizing a non-political event that was supposed to be about the achievements of students. The example they are setting for those students is absolutely contemptible.