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Radar Radio is dead and we’re all invited to the funeral

01 Jun 2018

TW: mentions of sexual assault, harassment and r*pe

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to dishonour the memory of Radar Radio, a music station funded by Sports Direct owner and tyrannical billionaire Mike Ashley, lead by his son Ollie Ashley and run by an unpaid staff of almost entirely young, largely working class and majority people of colour.

Whilst the station faced hushed criticism on its capitalist core and toxic environment for years, it all came to a halt on 16th of April as whistleblowing DJ and ex-Radar producer Ashtart Al-Hurra released an article titled “I’m a woman of colour who was mistreated at Radar Radio” in support of DJ collective Pxssy Palace who left the station under similar circumstances. As allegations of sexual harassment and non-disclosure contractual binding came to light, listeners tuned out and Radar fucked off. The station had officially died.

But, whilst we celebrate the demise of a capitalist machine that rinsed youthful creativity (largely stemming from black culture), we can choose to sympathise with the producers, DJs and hosts who stepped down from their shows, but our support should always focus on those who faced irreversible levels of trauma at the hands of those in power. It’s time for us to put our money where our mouth is and support the people whose bravery we openly applauded in April.

gal-dem sat down with Ashtart Al-Hurra to talk about the last month and the fundraising night she has set up to support survivors of abuse and all womxn and queer people of colour ready to reclaim their safety within the music scene.

Hi Ashtart, everyone got hype on Twitter following your article. How have things been since this came out and Radar went offline?

The hype was unreal! I still can’t believe it trended to the point that it became national news, though it’s kinda bait that big publications were only interested because of Radar’s link to Mike Ashley and Sports Direct.

Since then, I posted a follow up on Mixed Spices outlining the need for long-term change. There was also a database of abusers posted by anonymous collective Open Here, but neither of these seem to have taken off as much. I’m not saying the hype wasn’t amazing and hilarious to witness, but we need to remember that the WoC and QTPoC negatively affected by this will be affected by it for our entire lives – this kind of shit doesn’t go away overnight.

You’ve just set up a fundraising night that prioritises survivors and womxn and queer people of colour. Tell us about the event and the intentions you’ve set for that space.

Yeah, Mixed Spices will be raising money for North London R*pe Crisis, which is where I went for counselling. It was completely free and honestly changed my life. I think it’ll be so wholesome for us all to come together IRL, enjoy ourselves and raise money to fund someone else’s re-empowerment. I’m a gay as hell WoC, and a r*pe and abuse survivor. There aren’t many spaces where I feel I can truly belong, or even safely pursue my interests without being victimised, so as people like us always do, I decided to create one myself.

Mixed Spices will be raising money for North London R*pe Crisis, which is where I went for counselling. It was completely free and honestly changed my life”

If there’s anything I learnt in counselling, it’s that emotions are healthy and should be acknowledged. We should all be allowed to express our feelings and experiences in whatever way we see fit, as long as we’re not harming anyone or speaking over those less privileged than us. In the case of Radar, we have collectively buried part of an oppressive system and I think we deserve to mark the occasion.

The lineup is 100% WoC and QTPoC. We have a secret special guest who I can’t announce because she’s too popular, but trust me she’s worth it. We also have Shannen SP (Hyperdub), Englesia (UNITI), FAUZIA (NTS) and Ifeoluwa (NTS/Intervention). They’re all super talented people who will completely fuck up the dance so make sure you get down early and come with an open mind.

Mixed Spices has shaken up the UK digital and DIY music scene and has seen a ton of solidarity between survivors. What do you hope the lasting effects will be on the scene?

I’m a pessimist when it comes to believing everything will change for the better, especially in terms of the wider music industry. The best case scenario would obviously be white people and cis heterosexual men making more effort to actively fight with us, but we all know better than to assume this will happen. At the very least, I hope people in privileged positions will realise that we are truly powerful and not to be fucked with!

This is a funeral are there any clothing requirements?  

Yes! The dress code is this: wear whatever the fuck you want, but make it black. It’s the Radar Radio funeral after party bitches!

Tickets for ‘Mixed Spices presents: Bury Your Oppressor’ are available here