It is far easier to declare that you stand in solidarity with a cause or an issue than it is to actually take action, stand up and be counted. That was certainly felt at TalkSPORT HQ this week when a caller made a racist remark and neither of the presenters properly called it out or challenged it. The moment illustrated for me why it is critically important that if you intend to be an ally that you invest the time, effort and energy into self development so you are ready when the moment you need to challenge discriminatory behaviour arrives. What troubles me about the incident is that surely one of the key areas of development for the presenters has to be how to recognise a discriminatory comment and how to respond. It is startling that a radio station, that regularly invites callers to dial in, hadn’t done their homework.
For those of you that missed it, a caller discussing the potential transfer of Harry Kane from Tottenham, made an anti-semitic slur against the chairman Daniel Levy. The video below clearly indicates that the presenters were stunned by the comment but rather than call it out they moved the conversation on. I am certain that if the caller had made a racist remark about a Black or Brown footballer, manager or owner they would have responded in the moment. TalkSPORT have since apologised to Tottenham and Daniel Levy and I genuinely hope this will lead to in depth training of the on air team.
What is really sad is that it doesn’t take too much to work to prepare yourself for these kinds of situations. On radio especially, you have the ability to challenge the caller and then end the call if they do not retract / apologise for the remark. I have mentioned in previous blogs preparing a stock response you can have ready for when you are in this kind of situation. It would have been very simple for either Perry Groves or Jordan Jarrett Bryan to end the call and say “That type of racist comment is unacceptable on our show and I’d like to apologise to any listeners who have been offended by that”.
TalkSPORT have highlighted that they were able to cut the slur from radio broadcast but it made it through on the live stream online. Whilst this is a potentially positive step to prevent hateful comments from broadcast I sincerely hope it doesn’t mean that staff development gets ignored. The cynic in me wonders whether the edit was driven more by the comment or the lack of action by the presenters? If we are really going to make progress on anti-racism censorship is not enough. In fact, I think more positive impact would have been made by the presenters calling it out in the moment than by edits and apologies. #ImNotTired