Talk Radio have sacked James Whale for an interview with alleged rape victim Nichi Hodgson, which was deemed to be insensitive.
This story opens up a big can of worms as far as I’m concerned, because James Whale is one of the first generation of shock-jocks in the UK, who has managed to keep going through the digital radio revolution.
Indeed, shock-jocks are one of the main draws to digital-only outlets such as Talk Radio. The station wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t hard-hitting, close to the bone and yes, insensitive.
Sister station Talksport, of which Talk Radio is a spin off, essentially rose to prominence because it talked about sport in a way that BBC 5 Live dare not – but how sport is talked about ‘down the pub’.
Talk Radio is a carbon copy of Talksport, but instead discussing current affairs and issues in the press, and like Talksport, it discusses issues in a way that BBC Radio 4 dare not.
Nichi Hodgson claims that she was attacked after going home following a night out where a man jumped into her taxi and allegedly assaulted her.
Hodgson was appearing on Whale’s show to highlight her case during a discussion on the #MeToo movement.
Hodgson wrote in the Guardian; “What began as a typically strident exchange between me and a journalist known for his belligerent presenting style became a merciless exercise in how not to interview someone who has experienced a sexual assault.”
“Whale had the opportunity to let his listeners understand what it feels like to be sexually violated, to learn what may happen if you go to the police (who were nothing but supportive yet realistic with me) and to facilitate a nuanced discussion about what respectful sexual advances should look and sound like.
“Instead, his interrogation of me became part of the continuing problem, the very reason for why those who experience assault will continue to keep quiet about it.”
Why Go on a Divisive Radio Show Then?
So, the point I’m exploring here, is if there is a sensitive, personal matter to discuss, something which is clearly still causing distress as a result, why go onto a radio programme known for its approach in interviewing and questioning??
The police were unable to to help Ms Hodgson so there was no active investigation, there was similarly no CCTV footage either, therefore there would have been no restrictions other than what could be deemed as taste and decency on what Whale decided to question on the subject.
I actually think James Whale was operating at a level below his top gear, because I’m certain that if he wanted to make a big thing of this interview, the question to Ms Hodgson should have been; “Did the taxi driver not see or hear anything?”.
Talk Radio should be reversing their decision. Journalism is about the tough questions. Journalists shouldn’t face the sack, abuse, or online trolling just because they ask them.