E di chiare origini portoghesi è la protagonista della storia, Keri Rodrigues. In una nazione che dedica milioni di ore di ascolto della radio ai mastini della destra ultraconservatrice, Keri è una dichiarata mastina democratica. Approdata giovanissima a un proprio talk show, i suoi programmi mattutini a WSAR diventano subito molto popolari (e discussi) per i toni accesi con cui Keri difende i propri principi e accusa gli avversari politici. Ma qualcosa si rompe. All'inizio di agosto Kari annuncia il clamoroso divorzio da WSAR e la sua decisione di affiancare l'ufficio del procuratore distrettuale di Fall River, un democratico per cui la Rodrigues aveva condotto una campagna radiofonica all'altezza della sua fama di pasionaria, in una nuova posizione a favore dell'infanzia sottoposta ad abusi e violenza. E' una decisione clamorosa, che i conservatori prendono non si lasciano sfuggire, controaccusando Keri di ricadere nello stesso vizio da lei stigmatizzato in tanti amministratori di colore opposto al suo: farsi assumere in un incarico pubblico per mero favoritismo. E così, forse per ragioni di opportunità, arriva un secondo altrettanto clamoroso dietrofont. Keri però cerca di spostare l'attenzione su un altro fronte, tira in ballo il mobbing, denuncia presunti maltrattamenti subiti da alcuni colleghi alla stazione radio, dice di sentirsi minacciata, di essersi ritrovata con le ruote della macchina tagliate, una situazione ostile che le impedisce di pensare tranquillamente al suo nuovo incarico. La pasionaria rinuncia all'incarico nella procura, chiude il suo blog e parte senza lasciare indirizzo. Per i suoi numerosi fan è una tragedia: la giovane mastina liberal portoghese, che privilegia la passione politica e il giornalismo d'assalto e dimostra di non curarsi delle apparenze, ostendando un fisico non da top model, era amatissima da una parte del publico e odiatissima da tutti gli altri, in una comunità sempre più divisa in due. Che fine farà? Dove andrà a rifugiarsi per proseguire il suo mestiere di anchorwoman radiofonica, l'altra sua grande passione insieme alla militanza politica (Keri diceva di essersi innamorata della radiofonia a sette anni). La cache di Google non conserva traccia del suo blog. Solo sull'Internet Archive ho trovato qualche post di un paio d'anni fa, insieme alla pagina (rimossa dall'attuale sito di WSAR) dedicata da Keri a suo figlio Matthew, nato lo scorso anno. Torna presto, Keri.
Keri Rodrigues won't work for DA
By Jay Pateakos GateHouse News Service Posted Aug 25, 2008
Fall River — Former WSAR radio personality Keri Rodrigues will not be accepting a post as assistant to the Director of the Community Affairs Division for District Attorney Sam Sutter after claiming years of physical and verbal intimidation suffered at the hands of a radio station employee.
Rodrigues had intended to begin work on child abuse prevention and senior abuse education and prevention on Aug. 18, at the DA’s office but that start date was pushed back to Aug. 25. However, Rodrigues did not report for work Monday morning.
After reaching her on her cell phone late Monday afternoon, Rodrigues described a hostile work environment at her former radio station that forced her to not only leave her radio job but also give up her new profession with the District Attorney’s Office.
“I put in at least a dozen complaints about various physical and verbal intimidation that I suffered that was never attended to by management and was never stopped,” said Rodrigues.
In choosing to leave the radio station due to the constant workplace issues she alleged, Rodrigues said she had other job offers in Phoenix and San Francisco but was intrigued when Sutter spoke with her about a position that would allow her to stay the Fall River area, a place she had grown to love.
Rodrigues said that when she agreed to take the DA position she was warned by WSAR co-owner Robert Karam “to not make the station look bad.”
“He told me that I could come and collect my belongings as long as I kept my mouth shut,” said Rodrigues. “But the verbal and physical intimidation did not stop. I don’t know why, but I think they were hoping to keep me quiet by applying the political pressure.”
Rodrigues said the intimidation complaints stem from abuse suffered at the hands of fellow radio personality Michael Herren. She said incidents with Herren date back to a Thanksgiving Day 2005 football game, where Herren showed up and began to yell at her during the game.
“He kept asking me if I knew who he was, and he was screaming at me,” said Rodrigues. “I asked someone at the radio station who this guy was and they told me it was ‘just Herren.’”
Rodrigues said when she continued to complain to station ownership about Herren over repeated intimidation tactics, she was told that she “was just jealous of Mike.”
She said she has a total of 10 pages of complaints filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
“They (WSAR) only decided to do something about it because I gave my notice,” Rodrigues said, citing a current formal in-house investigation ongoing in the radio station based on her complaints.
Rodrigues said that after giving her notice at the radio station, she decided to take an extra week off before starting her new job in order to let the situation resolve itself, but instead, it worsened. She said her tires have since been slashed and she has received two threatening voicemails and notes taped to her car window.
“I can’t attribute any of that to any one person, but I have a young child, and this is not a safe environment to be in,” Rodrigues said.
She said she called Sutter and told him she would not be able to take the job because she felt her problems would be a distraction for her, and he agreed.
Rodrigues said she has since left the area for fear of her safety and would likely not return. She refused to give her location.
“It’s unfortunate that I have to leave behind a career I have loved since I was 6 years old, something I have known all my life and all I have every wanted to do,” said Rodrigues. “They have taken that from me, they have shattered it. It’s something that’s just in my DNA and obviously something I am very emotional about. I’m just a broadcaster, and I just wanted to have a talk show on the radio.”
DA spokesman Gregg Miliote would not comment on any of the Rodrigues/WSAR situation, instead offering an e-mail statement from Sutter Monday afternoon.
“I was disappointed to learn that Keri Rodrigues has decided to seek another opportunity,” Sutter said in the statement. “I continue to believe that she would have done a great job with child abuse prevention and senior crime prevention because she is so passionate about those issues and has so much drive and intelligence. I wish her the very best in her future endeavors.”
Neither James or Robert Karam answered numerous calls placed to their homes seeking comment Monday evening.
Reached on his cell phone, Michael Herren said it was unfortunate Rodrigues would attempt to hurt her former employer or co-workers on her way out. He said he has told investigators that he would submit to a polygraph test, if need be.
“It’s unfortunate that anyone can make allegations, and it doesn’t mean that they are true. Keri had more than her share of problems with people at the radio station,” said Herren, who would not elaborate. “It’s unfortunate that on her way out the door that she would try and tarnish the credibility of the people who own and work at WSAR.”