AFTER the dust settled following the axing of radio legend Clarence Ford from Heart FM, the man behind the termination has exited the radio station too.
Heart FM’s former head of radio innovation, Denver Apollus, shared this week on social media that he would be leaving the station at the end of the month.
He is adamant that his almost 10-year tenure has improved the station, increased listenership and his exit was nothing but an amicable agreement.
“Between Heart and I ... the support has been overwhelming ... I’m looking forward to the next chapter.”
However, former employees have painted a different picture of Apollus’ time at Heart saying he created a toxic environment as he was second in charge to the station’s managing director, Renee Redelinghuys - a title he used to lord over others.
Apollus made headlines in December when Ford, a veteran radio presenter, accused him of bullying in the workplace and having orchestrated his departure from the station.
“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 of that attempt. And I don’t take to bullies very kindly,“ Ford said at the time.
“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.”
Ford was informed of his dismissal on the way to the office via telephone the day after he spoke to the Weekend Argus on his “run-in” with a senior manager.
Insiders claim, Apollus was also behind the axing of other on-air personalities including Diggy Bongz, Irma G, Mark Marshall, and Saya Pierce-Jones.
Apollus was also accused of sexual harassment by Pierce-Jones.
On Friday Apollus said: “Heart (FM) and I are in a good space, fantastic space and I’m ready to live a chilled life and fetch my kids from school and do some cool things.
“It’s been long, it’s been a good journey, it’s been a wonderful nine-and-a-half years and we’ve done some amazing stuff, having just so much fun.”
He said the move had nothing to do with anything that occurred at the radio station in the past.
“This is unrelated to any other thing and we’ve departed on fantastic terms and I’m just ready to move on do some cool things.”
Apollus further said Heart FM’s success was partially thanks to him.
“When I started there in 2013 the station at that point had 440 000 listeners ... We now have 812 000 listeners,” he said.
“I was also part of the team that championed the footprint extension and projects like 16 days for youth are stuff I spearheaded and there are just tons of other things like our Heart FM Cape Town festival.
“A lot of firsts at the station in that innovative space are what I have put together,” he said, adding that the station is in a “very good position at the moment”.
Redelinghuys said Apollus left the station to pursue other business ventures.
“Denver was an integral part of our family and he will be sorely missed. We all appreciated his loyalty and high standard of work, and wish him everything of the best in the future,” she said.
Ford, in quick-witted response on social media to Apollus’ departure, thanked him for setting him free to “pursue my purpose”.
“Good luck Denver. In life you do stuff, and you fight stuff, you let stuff go, and you hold onto stuff,” read the post.
“While we will forever disagree on some stuff, there is other stuff that defines your presence in our shared space.”
Pierce-Jones said Apollus was anything but professional.
"During an internal investigation at Heart FM last year, I was asked to detail my experience with Denver Apollus,“ she said.
“In the middle of my testimony, the current MD verbally reprimanded me for using the word vagina ... Apollus and his former MD later refused to attend a sexual harassments and discrimination hearing at the CCMA.
“After the commissioner advised me to go to criminal or labour court, they tried to fire me for besmirching their names ... I fully believe that Apollus and those who’ve helped him cover his tracks are the reason for the downfall of a once much-loved station.”
She said after she spoke out, she was overwhelmed with the number of women and men who shared their stories of negative encounters with him.
“His departure is a relief for those who suffered under his tyranny. But if the rumours of this future radio employer are true, I shudder to think what fresh hell he could unleash on fellow women and LGBTQI+ persons if his behaviour goes unchecked.”
Apollus said: “I am innocent of these allegations. The matter is with my attorneys. I will be taking steps to stop her slanderous and defamatory comments. The fact that you are popular on social media does not mean you can say what you like.”