Former public radio star John Hockenberry said Saturday that he is horrified at the thought that he made people feel uncomfortable after being accused of sexual harassment.
The 61-year-old Emmy winner issued a statement in response to claims by author Suki Kim, who said Hockenberry peppered her with odd and suggestive emails and made unwanted sexual advances toward three other women.
Hockenberry, who is married with five children, said in a statement that he “had a reputation for being tough, and certainly I’ve been rude, aggressive and impolite.”
Hockenberry hosted WNYC’s “The Takeaway” from 2008 until earlier this year.
In addition to the show, Hockenberry is a prolific writer and has hosted shows on MSNBC. His memoir, “Moving Violations: War Zones, Wheelchairs, and Declarations of Independence,” was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
The radio host was paralyzed from the waist down after an accident in 1976.
“It horrifies me that I made the talented and driven people I worked with feel uncomfortable, and that the stress around putting together a great show was made worse by my behavior,” he said Saturday. “Having to deal with my own physical limitations has given me an understanding of powerlessness, and I should have been more aware of how the power I wielded over others, coupled with inappropriate comments and communications, could be construed. I have no excuses.”
Suki Kim, author, seated at the restaurant Jules on St. Marks
Kim, the author of “Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea’s Elite,” met Hockenberry in 2014 when she was a guest on “The Takeaway.”
Hockenberry sent her emails following her appearance that made her uncomfortable, asking for her home address and entitling a subject line: “Need another dose of you,” she wrote in an article published on New York Magazine’s website.
On her birthday, she claims he asked her, “Let me know if I am I bugging you or creeping you out?”
Kim writes that three other women told her Hockenberry’s behavior ranged from unwanted kisses to gross sexual remarks and unwanted touching.
She also claims that Hockenberry forced out three African-American female co-hosts who he soured on.
“You shouldn’t stay here just as a ‘diversity hire,’ ” he told one woman, according to Kim. “And you should go lose weight.”