I listen to a lot of podcasts and radio shows, and yet I had never heard of Andy Mills until women in radio started speaking out against him. If you have ever listened to Radiolab (on WNYC) or the shows Caliphate and The Daily (from the New York Times), then you’ve heard his work. He’s audio producer with a reputation going back years of being inappropriate with women and yet still continues to enjoy success. Tale old as time.
I was mostly inspired to write about this just to collect all of the stories from Twitter of everyone outing his behavior (at the bottom of this article). As the saying goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. But even before the recent tweets, there was an article in The Cut two years ago about Mills; here are some choice excerpts, about his time at WNYC:
The producer who’d later urge M. to report Mr. Phone Sex to HR told me Mills started hitting on her as soon as she joined “Radiolab,” in 2013. He’d interrupt work conversations to tell her she was pretty, come up behind her desk and give unsolicited back rubs. From other female colleagues, including members of a radio group called Ladio, she learned that “this is just how he treats women.”
The woman who received unsolicited backrubs was named “H” in the article and she adds this fun and relatable quote:
“At first I was an intern, and it was weird to push back. And — I stand by this now — I don’t think he’s a bad person. He’s just not good at reading other people. He certainly wasn’t masturbating into a plant. Anyway, at this point, my grievances are much more about HR.”
I just wanted to point out that we have such a low bar for what is acceptable behavior in men. Anyway.
H went on to complain to HR but found out that for her complaint to be investigated, her name would be given to Mills as an official accuser. Of course, anyone who has worked in a corporate environment is used to this kind of response from HR; they are not there to protect employees, they are there to wave their hands at awkward situations and protect the company. They are there to fill out all of the CYA paperwork.
HR did interview other women at “Radiolab,” but insisted they, too, would have to use their names — and none were willing. And so the burden of building a case against Mills fell entirely on H., leaving her feeling extremely isolated and, ironically, guilt-ridden. She didn’t want him fired; she just wanted him to keep his hands off employees.
She didn’t even want him to leave, just wanted him to stop!
So now we are back in 2020, where Mills has been hired by the New York Times to produce two highly-regarded podcasts (The Daily and Caliphate, which has since come into controversy over a questionable source), because of course he has. And finally enough women in the industry are fed up that they are willing to go public with their stories about him:
Check out this entire thread by Stephanie Foo (a superstar journalist and producer herself, whose credits include This American Life, Reply All, and Snap Judgment), about a time she encountered Mills’ sexism (spoiler alert, it involves a half-assed apology, only because he was foolish enough to act like this in front of people more powerful than himself!).
And here’s another thread about a time Mills threw his coworkers under the bus:
And apparently he has dumped a drink over someone at a party at least TWICE before, that we know of:
These are only the stories that are in public. Who even knows how many more are in private. I’m just completely disgusted, yet unsurprised, at how people like this keep failing upwards. This is exactly why so many people (mostly women) have whisper networks, because it’s the only way we can protect ourselves and our friends, when the systems of power have failed us at such a level.