Where is John Hockenberry now? How sexual harassment claims forced public radio icon into 'exile'
'Need another dose of you,' author Suki Kim revealed a disturbing line from John's emails to her
Journalist John Hockenberry, once an integral part of the investigations that followed the David Berkowitz's ('Sons of Sam') killings, has been away from the public eye for a while now. In 2004, a then NBC News reporter Hockenberry had revisited the Son of Sam crimes and noted that some police and prosecutors who had worked on the case believed that there was more than one gunman working with Berkowitz. A claim which was furthered by journalist Maury Terry as we see in the Netflix documentary 'Sons of Sam'.
In the case of John, ever since the alleged sexual harassment claims made by novelist Suki Kim surfaced, he seems to have removed himself from the wide media attention he was once used to and comfortable with. The last anyone heard of him was when he was embroiled in the sexual harassment scandal, which some thought brought him to his knees. For the longest time, popular belief was that he had to resign from his cushy, decade-long job at 'The Takeaway', a radio program on WNYC.
Where is John Hockenberry now?
It was 2018 when John last shared and put forth his side of the story in a lengthy essay titled 'Exile' that was published on Harper's magazine. In those few thousand words, it's hard not to sympathize with the man when he says he went from "recognized" on the streets of New York City to someone who "fears recognition and trembles at the prospect of running into some radio listener who has come to find me an object of pity or reproach."
However, he nullified all of that when he admitted to having taken a certain approach with women when his marriage was coming apart. Calling his moves "outrageous" and "pathetic", John wrote: "However misguided I was, there was no physical coercion, no groping or attempts at pushing beyond being told no."
Once he suggested to a married co-worker that they have an affair. Later, confessed his feelings for a young producer while in a hotel room. In the essay, John went about his life and career, which has spanned over two decades during which he won the Peabody Award thrice and the Emmy four times. Even though he ended it with "time to get to work" that was the last anyone heard or read from the award-winning broadcaster.
John has had quite the celebrated career in media. He has broad experience as a journalist and commentator for more than two decades. He was the co-anchor of the public radio morning show “The Takeaway” on WNYC and PRI. He has reported from all over the world, in virtually every medium, having anchored programs for network, cable and radio. He joined NBC as a correspondent for Dateline NBC in January 1996 after a fifteen-year career in broadcast news at both National Public Radio and ABC News. It was his reporting for Dateline NBC that earned him the three Emmys, an Edward R Murrow award and a Casey Medal.
How did John and Suki meet?
It was December 2014 when they met on his show to discuss her title: 'Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea’s Elite.' The chat went smoothly, a little too smoothly. A year later, they met and again in June 2016. By then it hadn't gotten awkward as he only wanted to "brainstorm" but never said about what. Slowly and surely, Suki wrote in The Cut expose, "things got uncomfortable" when the tone of his emails changed drastically.
'Need another dose of you'
"I’d always replied professionally to his emails, but in late July 2016, I got one that prompted me to stop communicating with him: “Need another dose of you,” the subject line read," Suki wrote and added: "I’d had enough of the insinuating tone —he barely knew me, and he had a wife and five children. Two weeks later he wrote again, asking for my home address, so he could send me actual letters."
In her lengthy note, Suki brought to light accounts by several women who were not okay with John's advances. "The stories I heard can be separated into two broad categories: First, there were unwelcome sexual overtures, physical and verbal, directed at the younger women who worked on the show as low- to mid-level producers, assistants, and interns," she observed and added that the second group of grievances came from the women of color who were employed as John's co-hosts.
Since leaving the radio show, he has not been actively employed anywhere else. "The last job I could find that he’d held was in September — as a guest host on Charlie Rose’s PBS show," she wrote.