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Radar Radio halts broadcast following harassment and censorship allegations

Many of the London-based radio station’s DJs and presenters have announced that they’re cutting ties with the company

Presenters, DJs, and record labels have cut ties with London-based online radio station Radar Radio following claims that the company has an abusive working environment and has exploited women, people of colour, and LGBTQ+ people. In response, the station has suspended broadcast, writing on Twitter: “We have made the decision to suspend broadcasting until we are in a position to address the recent commentary around aspects of the station.”

The allegations first surfaced earlier this month when inclusive London clubnight Pxssy Palace ended their residency at the station, posting a three-part statement to their Instagram (which is currently private) explaining their decision. “After a string of disappointing experience with Radar, and after having multiple members of our community confide in us regarding the station, we felt the need to speak out. We feel that they have tokenised women, feminism, queer and trans culture, and Black and other people of colour, for capitalist purposes, whilst making little to no effort to practise intersectionality within their own organisation.”

Pxssy Palace listed the “airing of sexist, homophobic and transphobic shows, with no evident attempt to apologise”, “the theft of intellectual ideas from people of colour with little transparency or attempt to share credit”, “asking staff (DJs, presenters, producers, members of the in house team) to work for free/low pay”, and “creating an uncomfortable and toxic environment which has led to the departure of many women of colour staff” as specific issues they had with the company.

Last Friday (April 13), Ashtart Al-Hurra, a former Studio Assistant and Producer at Radar Radio, published a blog post on a newly-started website Mixed Spices outlining the harassment she says she was subjected to while working unpaid at Radar. In the post, she alleges that sexual harassment claims against Radar DJs were dismissed by senior staff as “small things” and “boys being boys”. She also says that in response to her reports, the station promised (but failed to implement) sensitivity training.

Elsewhere in the article, Al-Hurra claims that Radar brought in “a HR person from Eacotts, the company that deals with Sports Direct, to speak to me and take an official statement” (Radar Radio’s founder, Ollie Ashley, is the son of Mike Ashley, the billionaire founder of Sports Direct). Al-Hurra claims that she was asked to sign a confidentiality form “declaring that I would not reveal any of this information to anybody without the permission of Ollie Ashley or a member of Eacotts”.

Radar was founded in 2014 as a youth-focused radio station showcasing the best of London’s underground talent primarily from the electronic, rap, and grime genres. With a company motto of “Tune in or fuck off”, the station has embraced its uncensored nature and used it as a point of differentiation to mainstream radio. “You can swear on our breakfast show, which is always a bonus,” Ollie Ashley told The Guardian in 2016. In an interview with Resident Advisor’s RA Exchange podcast earlier this year, he also said that “I really believe in free speech... that people should have a platform to say what they want, whether people are gonna agree with you or not”.

However, Al-Hurra writes that she felt silenced by the station, writing “that’s what Radar gets for pretending to be ‘uncensored’ while actually censoring the shit out of women of colour”. Previously, Radar’s lawyers threatened legal action against journalist Josh Hall in the event of defamatory material being published when he was reporting on the station’s finances. Radar presenters 2SHIN and Joe Bish also claim that their show, The Shit Show, was terminated 13 minutes into its broadcast when the hosts criticised Ollie Ashley on-air.

In response to both Pxssy Palace and Ashtart Al-Hurra’s blog post, many of Radar’s presenters and DJs have publicly cut ties with the station. Snoochie Shy, The Slumflower, Objects Ltd, Ikonika, and others have said they will no longer be working with the station. Dazed previously presented a show on Radar between 2016 and 2017, and hosted a music journalism workshop at the station in August 2016.

We have reached out to Radar for comment.