Whiley: relentless criticism of my Radio 2 show left me in tears
JO WHILEY, the Radio 2 broadcaster, has spoken of the “savage” criticism of her Drivetime show, admitting it left her in tears.
Whiley, who became Simon Mayo’s co-host on the popular afternoon show in May before the partnership was disbanded just before Christmas, said she had been subjected to “hurtful, insulting” resistance from a “very vocal bunch of people”.
Saying the relentless criticism had “chipped away” at her, she added: “Aside from family dramas, this is the toughest thing I’ve had to endure.”
Whiley returns to Radio 2 with a new evening show tonight at 7pm, in a new schedule for the station that includes Zoe Ball as the first female host of the breakfast show and Sara Cox from 5pm.
In October, the BBC announced that Mayo would be leaving Radio 2, following significant criticism of the broadcasters’ on-air partnership.
In an interview with The Mail on Sunday’s Event magazine, Whiley said she had not been able to “find her voice” on the show, explaining: “I was trying to pretend to be a drivetime DJ when I should have just been myself.”
Of the criticism, she said: “There was this wall of resistance to me from a very vocal bunch of people. It was hurtful, insulting. It made me look at who I am not just as a broadcaster but as a person. It made me reassess everything. It’s too easy to hate these days.”
She added: “And it was relentless, every hour of every day. No matter how tough and resilient you are, that chips away at you. I was tearful quite a lot of the time. Some days it was hard to walk out of my front door, let alone present a radio show. Invariably the criticism was from women. It was the most disappointing thing in the world.”
The Drivetime partnership of Whiley and Mayo finally ended on Dec 21, after complaints from listeners. Charlotte Runcie, a Telegraph critic, called the show “one long cringe, so palpable was the discomfort of the two hosts”.
Mayo, who has presented a radio show for more than 30 years and left Radio 2 following their final Drivetime show, confirmed that he would be announcing a new show this month, while Whiley starts an evening music programme Mondays to Thursdays, which she described as a “dream show”.
In October, Mayo tweeted his support for his co-host, saying: “When the show was ‘reconfigured’, she was my first and only choice. Some of the abuse she has had has been appalling.”
Ahead of her new breakfast show, Ball said she had been trying to decide what time to go to bed in order to wake up to her new morning alarm.
“The average sort of time is people seem to go to bed at 9ish, which is going to be interesting because my daughter goes to bed about that time,” she said. She joked that her daughter was going to end up putting her to sleep, reading her a story and “making sure that I’m not really on my phone or sneakily looking at the television”.
Jo Whiley has opened up about the hostility directed at her, largely by women