News & Politics

WAMU Hires Erika Pulley-Hayes as GM

The 16-year veteran of public media was hired after a nationwide search.

Erika Pulley-Hayes. Photo Courtesy of WAMU.

Nearly a year after its general manager resigned amid controversy, WAMU has hired a new leader. 

Erika Pulley-Hayes will take charge of WAMU on August 30, following a 16-year career in public media that includes having served as the vice president for radio at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, as a member of NPR’s board of directors, and most recently, as the top executive at Community Communications, Inc., which operates three stations in Florida, including NPR member station WMFE in Orlando.

“Washington, D.C., is really a public radio station’s dream market,” Pulley-Hayes told DCist, which broke the news of her hiring Tuesday morning. “I just think there are so many positives about this opportunity about this city, at this university, with this station. If you’re going to be in public media, this is where you want to be.”

WAMU previous general manager, JJ Yore, resigned in August of last year in the midst of a reckoning over the station’s workplace culture triggered by a DCist investigation that surfaced allegations that former WAMU journalist, Martin Di Caro, had sexually harassed colleagues and professional contacts while working at the station. It was also fueled by allegations that WAMU, under Yore’s leadership, had mistreated employees of color. 

In the wake of Yore’s resignation, officials at WAMU and American University—which hold’s the station’s license—conducted a nationwide search for a replacement, ultimately considering more than 130 candidates, according to DCist.

“Erika has the ideal combination of an impressive background in public media, strong management skills, and vision for the station,” Seth Grossman, the AU official who lead the search, told DCist in a statement. 

For her part, Pulley-Hayes says listening to her employees is central to her approach to leadership. “Listening to the voice of everyone on staff is really important,” she told DCist. “I think we’re shifting from this top-down approach — I call that management — to being more about what leaders do. And leaders, in my opinion, create the space for people to do their best work.”

Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.