Jo Whiley reveals abuse from trolls made her feel she was 'going mad'

Jo Whiley reveals vile abuse from trolls when she was hosting her BBC Radio 2 Drivetime show made her feel like she was ‘going slightly mad’

  • The DJ, 54, became the first woman to present a daytime show on Radio 2 in 20 years when she joined Simon Mayo, 61, on drivetime in 2018 
  • Jo’s role on the show led to a vicious backlash from trolls which ultimately led to her pairing with Simon ending in October 2018 after just a few months on air 
  • She told The Mirror: ‘Anything I said, these people trolling would interpret it to make it very offensive to me. You just feel like you’re going slightly mad’ 
  • Jo admitted the insults took their toll on her family and noted it was a ‘really horrible’ experience for her parents and her husband Steve Morton 
  • The presenter revealed that the experience left her not wanting to go out anymore or to look other people in the eye 

Jo Whiley has admitted that vile abuse from online trolls she was subjected to over her Radio 2 Drivetime show made her feel like she was ‘going slightly mad’.

The DJ, 54, became the first woman to present a daytime show on Radio 2 in 20 years when she joined Simon Mayo on drivetime in 2018. 

However, Jo’s role on the show led to a vicious backlash from trolls which ultimately led to her pairing with Simon ending in October 2018 after just a few months on air.

Honest: Jo Whiley, 54, has admitted that abuse from trolls she was subjected to over her Radio 2 Drivetime show made her feel like she was ‘going slightly mad’ (pictured in February 2019) 

Speaking to The Mirror, the presenter admitted the nasty messages she received were unlike anything she had ever seen. 

Jo said: ‘It was such a shock. I had never experienced anything like that before. I came from such a kind, nice and loving family.

‘So to suddenly be exposed and have people be very offensive to you was like, “Oh my gosh – do people really do this? Did their parents bring them up to think is is OK to be that vicious about someone?” 

‘I tried to ignore it initially and then it just got ridiculous. Any song that we played or anything I said, these people trolling would interpret it to make it very offensive to me. You just feel like you’re going slightly mad.’

Gig: The DJ became the first woman to present a daytime show on Radio 2 in 20 years when she joined Simon Mayo on drivetime (pictured with Simon in September 2016) 

Jo admitted the insults took their toll on her family and noted it was a ‘really horrible’ experience for her parents and her husband Steve Morton and their four children. 

The TV star also revealed that the ordeal left her not wanting to go out anymore or to look other people in the eye.

However, Jo said she is hopeful that one day internet trolls could become a thing of the past, saying there is a lot more awareness of it being unacceptable behaviour.

Simon, 61, previously said the decision to bring Jo in as a co-host on Drivetime was the result of pressure ‘from the top’ to increase the number of women in daytime radio.

Criticism: Jo’s role on the show led to a backlash from trolls which ultimately led to her pairing with Simon ending in October 2018 after just a few months on air (pictured in December 2016) 

Speaking to the Radio Times, Simon said that he was told Jo would be joining the show by his agent. 

He said: ‘It wasn’t a meeting, it was a phone call from my agent saying she’d had a visit from (Radio 2 controller) Lewis Carnie who’d said, “co-presenting is the future”.’

He added: ‘I was concerned that they’d pluck a co-presenter out of a bag somewhere, and I said it needed to be Jo. I’ve known her for a long time, and our families had been on holiday together.’

Jo said: ‘It was such a shock. I had never experienced anything like that before. I came from such a kind, nice and loving family’ (pictured in March 2020) 

Asked if he believes Radio 2 really thinks co-hosting is the future, Simon said: ‘No. My guess is that there was genuine pressure from the top about improving the number of women in daytime.’

He had previously told the Mail on Sunday’s Event Magazine that ‘gender [was] certainly in the mix’ when the decision was made and BBC director-general Tony Hall ‘was very vocal about that’.

Simon said there was never a sense that if it had not worked it would be reversed because ‘they’d invested too much political capital in the change’.

Hurt: Jo admitted the insults took their toll on her family and noted it was a ‘really horrible’ experience for her parents and her husband Steve Morton (pictured in February 2017)

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