Chicago radio station pulls R. Kelly music in wake of ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ docuseries – NBC News

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

A Chicago radio station has said it will no longer play R. Kelly’s music after a docuseries brought renewed attention to sexual misconduct allegations against the R&B singer.

LaMont Watts, the CEO of Clubsteppin 95.1 FM announced Wednesday that the station would stop playing all songs by R. Kelly in light of “Surviving R. Kelly,” a Lifetime series that aired last week which chronicles decades of the singer’s alleged sexual misconduct.

“As a leader of a team where women contribute unselfishly in a business where a majority of our audience is women. … And to hear and see the pain and suffering that is real for so many, effective immediately, we will no longer play the music of R. Kelly,” Watts said in an audio statement posted to Facebook.

“While everyone must be afforded their right to due process — innocent until proven guilty — we must protect our women at all times. In that, we must not waver or compromise,” Watts added.

Watts told the Chicago Sun Times that he’s heard mixed reaction from listeners, from gratitude to threats of boycotts.

“The intent of my actions is to support women everywhere, in their healing from abuse,” Watts wrote in a statement Thursday. “As Christians, we are called to stand when it is inconvenient or unpopular to do so, even if the people won’t or don’t know to stand for themselves.”

“Surviving R. Kelly,” which aired last week on Lifetime, includes more than 50 interviews from women who accuse Kelly, 52, of mental, physical and sexual abuse, as well as interviews with associates and relatives of the singer.

Kelly, who turned 52 on Tuesday, has denied all wrongdoing, and he has never been convicted. NBC News has reached out to him repeatedly since the airing of the docuseries but has only been able to speak to his lawyer, Steven Greenberg.

Greenberg told NBC News on Friday that he and Kelly are “not concerned because he knows he didn’t do anything wrong.”

In the wake of the docuseries, a Chicago-area prosecutor on Tuesday asked that anyone who is alleging abuse by the singer contact her office to investigate their claims. She said that families of two alleged victims had already come forward.

Greenberg said Friday, “I think the prosecutors are going to talk to these people. They’re going to determine that there is no merit to these allegations. They’re not provable allegations because they didn’t happen. And they’re not going to waste their time.”

Kelly is credited with partially popularizing Steppin, a Chicago-born dance style with deep ties to black culture, with “Step In The Name Of Love” and “Steppin’ Into Heaven.”

Clubsteppin has been streaming online since 2003 but expanded to radio when it acquired 95.1 FM last year.

Elisha Fieldstadt

Elisha Fieldstadt is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.

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