Earlier this month, Reply to all launched an ambitious miniseries, “The test kitchenWhich sought to address one of the biggest stories about the media’s coverage of a toxic work dynamic that took place last summer: the implosion of Enjoy your meal because of the scandal.
But shortly after the release of his second episode, Reply to all seems to be doing its own calculations. On Wednesday evening, Gimlet Managing Director Lydia Polgreen sent an internal email announcing that Sruthi Pinnamaneni, the show’s longtime senior reporter who ran “The Test Kitchen,” was immediately withdrawing from the miniseries. , while PJ Vogt, Reply to all founding co-host, had asked to take time off from the show as a whole. Vulture has since learned that Vogt’s departure from the series will be permanent.
These developments come after a former staff member, Eric Eddings, posted a Twitter thread specifically accusing Pinnamaneni and Vogt of contributing to a “toxic dynamic at Gimlet” which was “almost identical” to the Enjoy your meal culture represented in the miniseries. “The BA Staff members’ stories are worth telling, but to me it is detrimental that these reporting and stories come from two people who have actively and AGGRESSIVELY worked against the multiple efforts to diversify Gimlet’s staff and content ” , wrote Eddings.
The thread then presented a series of allegations against Pinnamaneni and Vogt, describing them as having actively worked against the company’s workforce and content diversification efforts which were primarily related to an initial workplace campaign to train a syndicate. This union push took place shortly before Spotify acquired the company in early 2019.
According to the internal email, “The Test Kitchen” was originally supposed to be Pinnamaneni’s last story for Reply to all before moving on to other projects in the company. He also noted that the company is planning to discuss the sequel to the miniseries. Reply to all, one of Spotify’s biggest podcasts, is set to continue production.
Spotify has yet to comment on this; the charges relate to a period prior to the Gimlet acquisition and subsequent changes it instituted in the business, including the hiring of Polgreen, a former editor of HuffPost. However, on Wednesday night, Vogt tweeted an apology with the announcement that he was temporarily withdrawing from the show. “I have failed deeply as an ally during the era of unionization at Gimlet,” he wrote. “I had no intention of stopping the organizing effort, and I’m very happy that it was successful… I haven’t finished working, but I don’t think anyone needs me to take any space right now. ” Pinnamaneni too posted his own apology.
Here is the full text of Polgreen’s email:
I want to start by acknowledging the complicated and emotional nature of what has been going on on social media and in conversations over the past 24 hours. I have had direct discussions with those involved and many others of you who are feeling the impact, and I plan to continue in the days and weeks to come.
From the moment I arrived in Gimlet, it was clear that our culture needed work and that there were great things that needed to change to make it a better and fairer place. We have spent a lot of time working to make these changes in partnership with many of you. These events are a reminder of how much work remains to be done.
PJ asked to step down from his role on the show and take time off, and I agreed. It was always planned that this miniseries will be Sruthi’s last story for Reply All before it moves on to other projects at Gimlet, but instead, it will be retiring from the series immediately. The Reply All team and I will be discussing plans for The Test Kitchen in the coming days.
At Gimlet, we do creative work in collaborative teams. This work is truly rewarding and also difficult. It involves honest and sometimes difficult conversations. But these conversations should be conducted with respect. No one at Gimlet or Spotify is too important or powerful to escape responsibility for their behavior, including me.
These events also remind us that we are at the heart of a collective bargaining process which is by nature confrontational. We sit across from each other and negotiate. But I know the people who organized the union are driven by a desire to make Gimlet better. We may disagree on the details of how to achieve this goal, but we are united in making Gimlet the best place to work for the most ambitious audio creators. I think thanks to the hard work on both sides we have made a lot of progress.
We have a lot of work ahead of us. Despite our recent challenges, I believe the world needs more of your exceptional storytelling. We will have time to talk to our All Staff about this together next week, but I’m also happy to talk about it beforehand.