Monday, September 08, 2014

John Labonia's 'War on Happy'

We've all been around, or known someone like John LaBonia.

LaBonia is the general manager of WLRN, the school board-owned public radio and TV station.

For some time now, I've been hearing stories that LaBonia is, to put it mildly, a supremely miserable person who enjoys making other people miserable.

For years, a group of WLRN staffers would meet informally once a month - on their own time - to meditate. One station staffer not involved called it "The Meditation Group." The weekly meetings were the brainchild of now-retired WLRN staffer Meredith Porte.

A few months ago LaBonia told the group that they were no longer allowed to have their meetings in the WLRN building. No reason was given. But apparently six people getting together to silently meditate can be very distracting.

Now comes word that LaBonia not only hates meditation, but he also hates small, furry animals.

Last week, WLRN's office manager Margarette Adam sent this email to station staffers.
Dear All,

Effective immediately, Mr. LaBonia wants everyone to be in compliance with the attached MDCPS [Miami-Dade County Public Schools] policy.

Also, all supervisors need to make sure that there is no violation of the policy.

Thanks for your attention.

Margarette C. Adam
Office Manager
WLRN Channel 17 & 91.3 FM
172 NE 15 Street
Miami, FL 33132

The policy mentioned in the email is a Miami-Dade Schools policy prohibiting animals on school property.

Now in case you're thinking that hordes of dogs and cats were roaming the hallways of WLRN, you can relax...that wasn't the case.

The target of LaBonia's wrath was one cute, cuddly ball of fur named Daisy that WLRN staffers had come to accept as the station's mascot, "therapy dog," and Morning Edition co-host.

Daisy is an American Eskimo dog that belongs to WLRN's Morning Edition host Wanda Myles.

Station staffers tell me Myles has been bringing her dog to work for years.

Now, after all these years, LaBonia has decided the school board's policy has to be adhered to and that the dog must go.

This despite the fact that research shows that pets in the workplace can reduce stress.

Some years ago a TV station in Arkansas adopted a cat that had the run of the entire station.

"It's like this guy [LaBonia] is waging a war on happy, or anything else that makes us feel better about ourselves," one staffer told me.

I've reached out to Myles for comment but haven't heard back.

I've also called LaBonia for a comment but he hasn't returned my call.

If you're a regular WLRN supporter, AND a dog lover, you might want remind Mr. LaBonia of that fact....especially since one of those wonderful pledge drives is coming up soon.

You can reach him at or 305-995-2259.

Daisy doesn't have a voice in this, but you do. Let John LaBonia know how you feel about his "war on happy."

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