Support for DJ who claimed black presenters were purged

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A FORMER colleague of the sacked disc jockey Steve Jackson yesterday supported his claims that a London radio station had purged presenters from ethnic minorities to try to attract mainstream listeners.

David Morrissey, who presented a weekday early morning show, told an employment tribunal he lost his job on the same day as Mr Jackson, and for the same reason - the dance radio station's desire to appeal to a wider audience than just black listeners.

Mr Morrissey said: "I believe that to promote its change of image, Kiss wanted presenters who it perceived would be more likely to appeal to a wider audience and which Kiss could put on TV and in advertisements. My impression from the radical changes to the presenters in the station was that Kiss wanted to have male, white presenters."

Mr Morrissey, who is now a consultant for a record company, had been dismissed by Dee Ford, the acting managing director of Emap Radio, which owns Kiss FM. Mr Morrissey said he was informed a new team was needed because Kiss had new management and there was a change in direction.He added: "Although I was told by Dee Ford that my dismissal was due to changes in management and strategy, I believe in retrospect that it was connected with my race.

"The only other two daytime presenters who were dismissed by Kiss were Steve Jackson and Janice V. Steve is black and Janice is Asian. All three of us, who were the only presenters to be dismissed, are non-white."

However, the managing director of Kiss FM, Mark Story, told the tribunal it was "scandalous" to suggest Mr Jackson had been dismissed because of the colour of his skin.

The tribunal heard that Mr Story, who became managing director of Kiss FM in January 1999, had been asked by Mr Ford to write a paper on how to maximise audience and profit for the station in August 1998.

Mr Story said he had concentrated particularly on Mr Jackson's breakfast programme, Morning Glory, during his research because it was the most important show.

He said that although he saw Mr Jackson as a talented broadcaster, he had been unimpressed with the show. "In my view, a general air of complacency, even smugness prevailed, the applicants seemed too old and out of touch with the target audience, and the programme had lost its edge," he said. The hearing continues.

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