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Radar Radio shuts down as presenters quit over abuse allegations

By | Published on Wednesday 18 April 2018

Radar Radio

Radar Radio has suspended broadcasting and shut down its website, after presenters left en masse following accusations of sexual harassment, homophobia and racism at the online station.

The radio set-up, which is owned by Ollie Ashley, the son of Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley, said in a statement that it had “made the decision to suspend broadcasting until we are in a position to address the recent commentary around aspects of the station”.

That commentary started earlier this month when DJ collective Pxssy Palace announced that they were leaving the station after “a string of disappointing experiences”.

Among a long list of accusations, they said that Radar aired “sexist, homophobic and transphobic shows”, had a culture of “organisational racism”, and had created “an uncomfortable and toxic environment which has led to the departure of many women of colour staff”.

They also said that they had privately raised their concerns with senior staff at the station. However, at the time of their statement, they said, there had been a “consistent reluctance to negotiate or properly discuss these issues”.

On Friday, Radar responded to Pxssy Palace’s statement, saying: “We were very concerned and disappointed to see the statement from Pxssy Palace suggesting that we are getting some important aspects wrong. We don’t agree with all the opinions in that statement but like most organisations we know we are capable of making mistakes and have to be vigilant to maintain standards”.

This prompted a former producer at the station, Ashtart Al-Hurra, to publish a blog post detailing her own experiences at Radar.

“I joined Radar stupidly thinking that I’d be contributing to something positive, and finally establish a safe place for myself to do what I love”, she writes. “It turned out that Radar behind the scenes was nothing like how it sounded”.

She says that she was sexually harassed by “dickhead DJ dudes”, both at the station and at associated events. False rumours were also spread by colleagues about her sleeping with some of these men, she adds.

When incidents happened within the station’s offices, she said that she reported them to a manager. However, she claims, little was done to address this and she was admonished for discussing concerns on social media. Asked to detail those concerns once again, she says, she was told that they “just sounded like small things”, and that “it’s just boys being boys”.

Eventually, she goes on, an HR firm was brought in to mediate, after which promises were made to provide staff with “sensitivity training”. But, she says, people who still work there have told her that that never happened.

Al-Hurra also claims that she was made to sign NDA barring her from discussing Radar or the Ashley family publicly. “Obviously, I’m violating the fuck out of that shit right now”, she writes. “But that’s what Radar gets for pretending to be ‘uncensored’ while actually censoring the shit out of women of colour”.

“Everything I have just told you is why Radar’s reply to Pxssy Palace is complete and utter trash”, she goes on. “Pxssy Palace are the only people in the entire industry that I know of who have had the integrity to publicly challenge this weird position of power that Radar have created for themselves”.

She then concludes: “It’s as if people are genuinely scared it’ll fuck their careers up, even though this music existed years before any of these gentrifiers had a clue. Nobody actually needs Radar, Radar needs artists. Otherwise it wouldn’t have built itself off the back of the black working class people who pioneered grime”.

Seemingly taking all this on board, many presenters subsequently announced that they were leaving the station. Among them the Planet Mu record label, producer Ikonia, breakfast show host Snoochie Shy, writer Chidera Eggerue, and many others.

With its pool of presenters dwindling, Radar – which recently marked its third birthday – announced that it was temporarily shutting down. Its website is currently blank, although its social media profiles remain open.