Jo Whi­ley: Abuse from Driv­e­time hate mob left me in tears

The Mail on Sunday - - News - By Padraic Flana­gan

RA­DIO 2 DJ Jo Whi­ley has talked for the first time about how abuse from crit­ics and lis­ten­ers left her in tears and scared to leave home.

De­scrib­ing her or­deal in to­day’s Event mag­a­zine, the pre­sen­ter says the tor­rent of abuse she suf­fered last year af­ter be­com­ing co-host of the Driv­e­time show with Si­mon Mayo was ‘the tough­est thing I’ve had to en­dure’.

Whi­ley, pic­tured right in her Event pho­to­shoot, says: ‘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.

‘I have only ever wanted to be judged for my work, not my sex.’

The mother-of-four’s ap­point­ment last year was in­tended by the BBC to re­dress gen­der in­equal­ity at Ra­dio 2, but it led to vi­cious trolling on so­cial me­dia – par­tic­u­larly from women. ‘It was re­lent­less, ev­ery hour of ev­ery day,’ Whi­ley says. ‘In­vari­ably the crit­i­cism was from women. It was the most dis­ap­point­ing thing in the world.’

Month af­ter month of abuse took a sav­age toll. ‘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.’

Whi­ley, 53, who now has a Ra­dio 2 evening slot, ad­mits she found it hard to ad­just to the Driv­e­time role. ‘I didn’t know what my voice should be,’ she says. ‘I was try­ing to pre­tend to be a Driv­e­time DJ when I should have just been my­self.’

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