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Whistleblowers Fired From Orlando Christian Radio Station After Speaking Out

By Warren Cole Smith

On the day MinistryWatch posted a story identifying concerns at an Orlando Christian radio station was published, one of the staff members who commented for the story was fired in a text message from the station’s president, Jim Hoge.

Jim Davis was the Underwriting Coordinator/Traffic Coordinator for the station.  He had also been an on-air talent and – until his firing this week — continued to do voiceovers and editing.  He had been an employee of the station for 23 years.

Davis said that Hoge’s attempts to get another Christian radio station to abandon its plans to enter the Orlando market was a tipping point for him.

“I felt he was lying, that he had no intention of switching our format or our name,” Davis said.  “Even worse, he was asking us to go along.”  Davis said that the net-effect of that episode was that “he has taken us to a new level of low.  We’re a laughing-stock in the industry now.”

Those comments were first published in a story at MinistryWatch on May 10.  That evening, at 9:03 p.m., Davis (who goes by “JD”) received this text from Hoge:

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JD—

No surprise that you have been terminated for cause effective today. Look for a letter from me in the next several days.

Please return any station property including but not limited to, keys, passwords and documents. With these two things, your final paycheck will be in two weeks.

The next morning, Davis commented, “I was fully aware that this could happen.”  Davis also said that the outpouring of support from the staff who remained has been encouraging.  “I’ve heard from probably eight former staff members, thanking me for speaking out.”

Davis also said he had “no regrets” about speaking out.  “The decision I made to put my name in that article was mine,” he said.

Davis is one of at least six people who has left the station in the past two weeks – a station that has a staff of less than 40 people and has a turnover rate significantly above the industry average.

As reported earlier, Stephanie Landsman (known on the air as Mia Taylor), left last Friday.  In the aftermath of Jim Hoge’s attempts to prevent another station from entering the market, Sarah Cowles resigned from her position as the Promotions Director of the station.  Tom Beaton, the Director of Interactive Technologies also left the station. Clara Winborn, a graphic designer who was a part-time employee with Z Ministries, was also informed via email that her services were no longer needed because she posted the story exposing Hoge on her personal Facebook page.

Perhaps the most high-profile departure was Carter Kenyon.  Kenyon has served as both a board member and, until his departure, was the Director of Ministry Advancement.  It was a role he had held since 2011.

MinistryWatch attempted to contact Jim Hoge for comment.  However, the station has now engaged Sara Brady, whose public relations firm specializes in crisis communications.  MinistryWatch asked Brady why Davis was fired using a text message, and if he was fired for comments made in the MinistryWatch article.  We also asked if Z Ministries would be making any changes to its management structure and practices to take into account the concerns raised by current and former staff members.

We have so far received no response to these questions.

warren cole smith

Warren Cole Smith is president of MinistryWatch.com, a donor watchdog group. Prior to that, Smith was Vice President-Mission Advancement for the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.  

This article was first published by MinistryWatch and is reprinted here with permission.

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15 thoughts on “Whistleblowers Fired From Orlando Christian Radio Station After Speaking Out”

  1. I know Julie is aware of this, but the seedy underbelly of Christian Radio has been an issue for years. We used to think it was just the Family Radio/Harold Camping circles, or possibly other fundamentalists or even leftists infiltrating. It isn’t.

    I’ve been out of the radio world for a number of years now and have had numerous non-Christian (and occasionally anti-Christian) coworkers, supervisors, and bosses. I haven’t been treated like I was in Christian radio.

  2. I worked as a teacher at 2 different “Christian” schools. The toxic environment in those situations has caused me to never want to work for a Christian again. Such a shame.

    1. Darren Gruett

      Migie, as a Christian, I am so sorry to hear that. You are right. It is absolutely shameful, and there is no excuse for it. I hope that other Christians would listen to what you are saying.

      You are right to put the word “Christian” in quotes, after all, what is a “Christian” school anyway?

      Regarding work experience, many years ago I worked for a short time for a family at my church, and it was, by far, one of the worst experiences I ever had, too. Other than seeing them show up in church weekly, there was nothing I can remember about them that was like Christ.

      1. I’m so sorry to hear that you experienced a toxic environment, too. The leaders in my situation were extremely narcissistic and fired people if they were ever questioned. I became so stressed at the first school as to how they treated the children that my hair began falling out!! Thankfully I knew that didn’t exhibit the fruits of the Spirit and weren’t really Christians, however their example left others confused and dismayed. I work for non-believers now and am treated so much better. Did you have a similar experience?

        1. Gordon Hackman

          Yes. I worked for a seminary that was/is an extremely toxic place, and lead by a narcissistic leader. High turnover rate, chaotic and unstable work environment, and overwhelmed, miserable staff. I’m glad I’m not there anymore.

  3. Darren Gruett

    We need to be clear about the word Christian. A Christian is a person, not a thing, who follows Christ and acts like Christ. The earlier believers were called Christians, not because they took that name themselves, but because they were so much like Jesus that others called them that.

    I hate even using the terms Christian music or Christian radio. What does that even mean anyway? What is it that makes it Christian?

    This all reminds me of an old Steve Taylor song about believers who only want to drink milk from a Christian cow, but I digress.

    1. Gordon Hackman

      “Guilty by Association!” You should check out the cover version of the song by “The Sanctified Glory Mountain Revival Family.” It’s pretty funny.

      1. Darren Gruett

        Ah, a fellow Steve Taylor fan. Yes, that is the song. I still have it on CD. I will have to check out the cover version. It is interesting, when I think about it, that Steve Taylor, through music, was talking about hypocrisy and greed in the church way back in the eighties. Today we have TRR.

  4. Our own experience with professing Christians is such that they say one thing while immediately doing the opposite. We were swindled by members of the United Reformed Church of North America and instead of the church holding them accountable for theft and lying, the church closed ranks and sued us with a bogus defamation suit. Jesus says in Matt.7:16-20 ” You will know them by their fruits.” They are just hypocrites.

  5. When “business” and “ministry” get mixed together, things just get weird. Things that would not be tolerated in a typical business environment can be excused under the banner of “sacrificing for the ministry.”

  6. Since radio stations have to have their licenses renewed periodically, the process requires public input. So if enough people petition the FCC Hoge could lose the license.

  7. Mr. Ralph Jesperson

    This news is of no surprise to me. An old pastor of mine used to say that Satan does his best work inside a cloak of religious false piety. The same exact story is reported over and over again. The names of the individuals and orgs. change, but the story is identical. Men who claim Christ but act like Satan have been sowed everywhere like tares. Only in paying close attention to their fruit does this become obvious.

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