“Clarrie’s favourites” is a Sunday staple for many Capetonians. There’s nothing like winding down on a Sunday afternoon after a lekker lunch and listening to some groovy classics and the radio legend, Clarence Ford’s smooth voice between 6 and 10pm.
However, after 24 years with Heart FM and one of Cape Town’s most popular Sunday shows, Me Time, the legend is saying farewell to the station. While Sundays are a favourite amongst his fans, he also has thousands of listeners tune in during the week to bop their feet to some good music on his lunchtime programme.
Despite his massive contribution to the industry and the station, Ford‘s departure is not as cut and dry as one might think. According to the radio legend, bullying from management was at the heart of his decision to put Heart FM in the rearview mirror, with one particular incident in February being a standout.
“I’ve had some run-ins with management. And there was a particularly bad one in February where I had to draw the line. I cannot be in a space where my values are compromised. The February experience related to an attempt to bully on a public platform. And I was on the receiving end. And I don’t take to bullies very kindly. And I met the bully halfway in a language only bullies understand. And I expected the response would be, let’s just call it an emotionally intelligent response. And that is exactly what has brought us to this particular time,” he indicated to the Weekend Argus.
Ford went on to add that he demanded that management bring the bully to task, but they ultimately felt that it was not necessary.
“I said I can’t respect this kind of behaviour. And if they’re going to remain silent, they would be complicit, and I couldn’t stay. And I made it clear given that scenario.”
On November 8, Ford was called into a boardroom meeting to discuss his contract. This was something that never took place in such a formal setting with contract negotiations usually done in the hallway.
“This was quite ominous because this was a discussion in the boardroom,” he said. “I thought it related directly to the impasse in February. And I knew instinctively what was going to play out. And it did. I have communicated all the issues to the board and to management, in detail. And I think that is where the issues must reside,” he said of the meeting.
However, management at the station has stated that Ford‘s claims of bullying have “absolutely no truth” and that “it’s definitely not the reason for the departure of Clarence.”
According to IOL, numerous staff members have indicated that there is a “toxic work environment” at Heart FM, with many too afraid to publicly speak out as they may be victimised by management.
Despite the drama surrounding his exit, Ford states that there are no “ill feelings.” “I have made complete peace with it. I am actually quite looking forward to the prospect of the future beyond Heart. A future that I have maybe not given too much attention to, and that future talks to the entrepreneurial person that I am.”
Thankfully, listeners still have a few more weeks to soak up all the glorious tunes that Ford has to offer.
Picture: Clarence Ford Instagram