The Independent has learned that a radio host with Coast 101.1 FM is “no longer employed” with the popular St. John’s-based radio station.
On Wednesday evening Sarah, a young woman living in St. John’s, took to Twitter to announce that she was live broadcasting on another social media site. In a tweet, she said: “Streaming Overwatch now!!!! come watch me and hang out! :)”
In response, Joel North, host of Coast 101.1’s Coast Home program that airs weekdays from 3-6 p.m., tweeted at Sarah: “you’d get more viewers if you were stripping”.
“[A]nd you’d get more viewers if you weren’t a pig! blocked!”, Sarah responded on Twitter.
The following morning Sarah tweeted at Coast 101.1 FM: “Just so you know, one of your employees has a habit of sexually harassing women on the internet, especially young girls.”
The tweet was shared around various social media sites, prompting outrage from local social media users.
— sarah (@anyasjenkins) September 22, 2016
Coast 101.1 FM received multiple complaints regarding North’s tweets, Operations Manager Allan Gidyk told The Independent Friday.
Though Gidyk said his station’s policy prevented him from commenting on an employee’s conduct, and on the incident involving North, he confirmed that “the individual is no longer employed” with the radio station.
Sarah did not respond to an interview request from The Independent by the time of publication.
St. John’s Status of Women Council Executive Director Jenny Wright said North’s initial comment was “absolutely sexual harassment” and “sexist”, and that it “completely dismissed [Sarah’s] humanity”.
But North’s follow up tweets were equally as harmful, she added.
In response to an influx of negative attention, North took the opportunity to plug his podcast and blog, North of Newfoundland: “Since my profile is getting so much attention today, please check out our podcast! @northofnl northofnewfoundland.ca”
“I was hoping for national news coverage but clearly need to up my game for next time. Also check out our podcast @northofnl,” he followed up in another tweet.
“So thx to all who took the bait. This is my most epic yet. I’m getting hate tweets from England. LOL!” he wrote.
“I have been trolling random people on Twitter for years, with the sole purpose of getting attention and causing trouble.”
Wright said North’s dismissal and denial that his comment may have hurt someone is something “women experience all the time.
“I think it’s one of the most powerful tactics that feeds into our rape culture, where someone’s open harm—and who said ‘This has hurt me, and this is not OK’—is just laughed at.
“There’s something inherently harmful about seeing that kind of abuse, and then the denial of the abuse; there’s kind of a secondary traumatization that happens to people,” Wright continued.
“Clearly he was going to take no responsibility for the harm that he caused, and that really, really concerns me. I worry very much for the young woman, and for other young women who are online. This kind of online harassment and sexism is starting to be what they see all the time. Is this the norm? Is this how they’re going to see what the world is like continually? It’s like a series of really tiny micro-aggressions that really add up and cause harm. I really don’t think we’ve thought about or addressed what is the impact on communities who see that and witness that everyday online.”
I think it’s one of the most powerful tactics that feeds into our rape culture, where someone’s open harm…is just laughed at. — Jenny Wright, Executive Director, St. John’s Status of Women Council
Wright also said she’s disappointed the radio station hasn’t taken the opportunity to make a public statement about sexism and sexual harassment.
“I think it was a really good chance for a radio station to have made a statement that could have been quite healing for the community.”
Sexism on mainstream radio stations “continues to go unchallenged,” Wright added.
“On so many levels [North’s] response that it was just a joke, and ‘I’m totally dismissing who you are and the harm that I caused you’ — I think that’s what’s happening on the macro level on radio stations,” she said, referring to other local radio stations known for frequent sexist rhetoric and sexist on-air personalities.
“‘They’re just jokes, what are you getting so upset about?’ — it’s really effective at telling women to shut up, and silencing them, and totally dismissing the abuse [they have experienced]. It’s gotta stop, because we see the harm of it everyday.”
North did not respond to an interview request, and on Friday afternoon the phone number listed on his podcast’s website was out of service.