Jo Whiley has spoken of the “relentless” abuse she received during her stint as Radio 2’s drivetime host.
In 2018, Jo joined Simon Mayo’s regular Radio 2 show, marking the first time a woman had presented in the timeslot in more than 20 years.
Unfortunately, her stint as host was met with a wave of negative responses, including some critics who suggested she’d only landed the gig to increase the female presence on Radio 2.
“I have only ever wanted to be judged for my work, not my sex,” she told the Mail On Sunday’s Event magazine. “Aside from family dramas, this is the toughest thing I’ve had to endure.”
She continued: “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, to forget there’s someone just doing their thing, on the receiving end of such hostility. 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,” Jo admitted, reflecting on the difficult period. “Some days it was hard to walk out of my front door, let alone present a radio show.
“I would go on Twitter to tell listeners about a great interview coming up and be bombarded with people being vicious.”
Simon previously called out the abuse Jo had received in a string of tweets posted in October last year, writing: “I’ve loved working with the exceptional Jo Whiley and when the show was ‘reconfigured’ she was my first and only choice.
“Some of the abuse she has had here has been appalling. Support for a show is one thing, assaulting the dignity of a warm-hearted and loyal friend is another.”
The pair’s show came to an end in December 2018, with Sara Cox now taking over the drivetime slot.
Jo will now host her own Radio 2 show, beginning at 7pm, while Simon May has left the station after 17 years, though he will host a weekly film show on Radio 5 Live.
This move is one of several big changes at the station, with Zoe Ball taking over the Radio 2 breakfast show on Monday morning, where she was met with the thumbs up from listeners.