Off Radar: how the influential radio station was silenced by scandal


With a company motto of “Tune in or fuck off”, online radio station Radar, founded at the end of 2014, set out to become an uncompromising platform for the UK’s underground music scene. Following in the footsteps of stations such as NTS and the live music streaming platform Boiler Room, Radar was prophesied by many – including this paper – to be representative of “the new sound of London”. The station made its name by championing the recent revival of the UK’s grime and electronic scenes, showcasing work from the likes of producer Ikonika and rappers Novelist and Avelino, as well as hosting shows led by music labels Night Slugs and Planet Mu.

In a podcast interview with dance music website Resident Advisor this year, Radar’s founder, 27-year-old Ollie Ashley – the son of the Sports Direct owner, billionaire Mike Ashley – prided himself on the station’s lack of censorship. “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,” he said.

Yet, the apparent openness of his radio platform has been undermined this week by troubling allegations of sexual harassment and cultural exploitation and appropriation, causing station staff and presenters to walk out on Monday. A suspension of broadcast followed the next day, as Radar went off-air until further notice. The future of the station – which is funded by Sports Direct’s parent company, Mash Holdings, and operates from a fully furnished, professional studio space in Clerkenwell, central London – is now in jeopardy.

Read the feature in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 19/04/18 and in print on 20/04/18]