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Radar Radio suspends broadcasting after allegations of abusive practice

Multiple DJs and presenters severed ties with the station after claims were made this month citing tokenism, exploitation and “organisational racism”...

London’s Radar Radio has suspended broadcasting after a number of serious claims were made against the station citing abusive practice, “organisational racism” and an exploitative environment for women, people of colour and LGBTQ+ people.

On Friday (5th April), Pxssy Palace, an all female-identifying London DJ collective creating platforms for women of colour and  LGBTQ+ people, ended their residency on Radar Radio, claiming that the station “do not support our core values”.

In a statement made on Instagram, the collective said, “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.”

In their statement, Pxssy Palace outlined examples of such alleged practice from the station: “Allowing the airing of sexist, homophobic and transphobic shows, with no evident attempt to apologise, or take reparatory actions following this”; "organisational racism which is indicated by a lack of balance in how DJs are paid and promoted"; “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 - despite financial capability, evidence by them pouring excessive amounts of cash into Radar’s refurbishment and to specific members of management and staff”; and “creating an uncomfortable and toxic environment which has led to the departure of many women of colour staff”.

On 13th April Radar Radio issued an initial statement and apology in response to Pxssy Palace. They said, “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”.

After Radar’s statement, an article appeared on Mixed Spices on Sunday 15th April with the headline ‘I’m a woman of colour who was mistreated at Radar Radio – their reaction to Pxssy Palace’s leaving statement is absolute trash’. The article came with a content warning owing to "mention of r*pe, child and domestic abuse, sexual harassment"

Written by a former producer at the station, Ashtart Al-Hurra, she outlined in the article that she allegedly experienced numerous instances of sexual assault – "like, fucking tonnes, by dickhead DJ dudes” – during her time working in the station.

In the piece, Al-Hurra, who is a survivor of abuse, outlined instances where she approached senior members of staff about her experience in the station but was met with little to no response. However, when she posted on Facebook to address this as “an industry issue, not just a Radar issue” she was allegedly confronted by members of staff telling her that she “represented Radar and shouldn’t be talking about such things on social media”.

Radar Radio owner Ollie Ashley is the son of Mike Ashley, founder of Sports Direct, and the station is funded by MASH Holdings Limited. There has been serious criticism in the past directed toward these companies for HR practices and treatment of staff. Al-Hurra’s article outlined how Radar Radio brought in a HR person from Eacotts, the same company who deals with Sports Direct. Initially, a letter was sent to Al-Hurra outlining the company’s intention to “[provide] staff with sensitivity training” though according to Al-Hurra, this never happened.

Al-Hurra also outlined the subsequent HR process as “some real capitalist conspiracy type shit”. She added, “they made me 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. They also asked me not to post any material 'in any way related to Radar Radio, the Ashley family or the music community' online."

DJs and producers who had or had previously had residencies and regular shows on Radar have subsequently distanced themselves from the station, voicing support for Al-Hurra and Pxssy Palace in the wake of their respective statements. DJs, presenters and labels such as Anu, ObjectsLTD, Object Blue, Planet Mu, The Slumflower, Tobago Tracks and New Atlantis are among those who have distanced themselves from the station.

As of last night, Monday 16th April, Radar Radio have suspended all broadcasting. In a statement made on Twitter they wrote, “We have made the decision to suspend broadcasting until we are in a position to address the recent commentary around aspects of the station”.