Many thanks to those of you who have sent me content to listen to and made your own suggestions of work worth honouring. I hope you, like me, enjoy hearing and watching our winners. There is some inspiring stuff and maybe even some ideas you can, er, borrow for next year!
First up, Best Radio News.
The great thing about your own awards is that you can bend the rules a bit. In this category, rather than one outright winner I want to congratulate a number of journalists who I think have had a year worth shouting about. So, in no particular order...
Radio City / City Talk news team
In what I suspect has been a challenging year for the news team at City (lots of change at City Talk), the journalists have produced engaging content beyond news bulletins. I have been impressed with how the team has spoken with people at the heart of major stories on Merseyside. For example, reporter Laura Harmes travelled to Spain with a local family fighting to get the body of their murdered son returned home. On the Radio City website this week, you can hear the family of a three year old killed in an arson attack on their home retell their story. I have also been impressed with the conversational manner in which these audio blogs were presented in Afganistan.
The journalists at GMG Radio
In the interests of disclosure I have to tell you that GMG are clients of mine but the journalists have been doing some stand out work. From developing a more informal but still credible style on Rock Radio news to producing an incredibly moving and compelling documentary marking the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster to travelling to Copenhagen for special coverage of the Climate Conference. Here is an example of the impressive news presenting talent within the group. Kate Kopczyk who reads on Real in the NW with a creative treatment of an ‘and finally...’
I am a big supporter of a push at GMG to do news slightly differently. The death of Sir Bobby Robson was clearly a very significant story for the team in the NE. They considered how their coverage could really strike a chord with an audience passionate about football and even more passionate about this man. Real’s Football Phone In Legend Malcolm McDonald, a former colleague and a friend of Sir Bobby, was asked if he would read the main evening news on the day of his death. It makes for very powerful radio. Malcolm’s emotions connect with the listener in a way no standard treatment could.
I think Absolute is doing some of the most exciting things in radio at the moment - set to continue next year with Baddiel and Skinner at the World Cup. The news team has been aiming high in 2009 too. In this compilation you will hear breakfast news presenter and Head of News, Andrew Bailey live in Basra. He and journalist Tania Snuggs marked the anniversary of the Iraq war also filing pictures and videos. Absolute were also in Washington for President Obama's inauguration and you'll hear some impressive reporting during the G20 protests in London.
I got to learn about news on Jack FM through a presentation I wrote about Re-Inventing Radio News. What makes it special is that it is the only live content on the station after 10am. Bulletins are five minutes long, rare in commercial radio as you will agree, and often include other topical content. So, the team is making a significant contribution to the station and that team – nominated for 2 Sonys this year - is only 3 strong: Greg Burke, Ali Booker and Rosie Tratt.
In BBC Radio Five Live’s schedule changes, all the attention went to Gaby Logan and Richard Bacon but his replacement was not reported so much – and it is very smart. Tony Livesey – former Daily Sport Editor and currently BBC Radio Lancashire’s breakfast host – will front night times on Five, from Manchester. Not only strategically clever to begin the move to the north but Livesey is a great presenter. I have heard him in the judging of various radio awards and he is smart, funny and a good interviewer. I suspect Tony will do well. Bummer for Lancashire though.
The Beyond The Call of Duty Award - renamed The Multi Media Award!
I am going to redefine this category a little because I want to recognise some examples of impressive multi-media work.
Viking FM in Iraq
Back to Iraq, Adam Westbrook was sent there for Viking FM to cover the story of North Yorkshire soldiers serving out there. As well as filing radio pieces, he enhanced the experience for the audience by shooting video, nicely packaged, and producing a very effective audio slide show. It is a great example of what can be achieved within local commercial radio news.
Engaging a younger audience with politics is not easy but I liked what Radio 1 Newsbeat - another of my clients this year - did at conference season. On-line Politics Correspondent, Dave Howard set himself the challenge of explaining what it is all about in ninety seconds. A nice spin, lots of target listeners voices and good production. Start the clock...
Absolute Radio booing and twittering
Generally, Absolute Radio has had an impressive multi-media year. Although it is not news based, I must mention its twittersode of Dr Who. Listeners were asked to write a new episode 140 characters at a time using twitter. For me, this was a very clever and creative way of persuading the audience to interact using the tool. The finished script was then performed on-air by star David Tennant and it was filmed for listeners to watch and for it to be shared.
Absolute’s Head of News Andrew Bailey used Audioboo this year to instantly share back stage reports and interviews from the Isle of Wight Festival. Audioboo (click here if you are not sure what it is) clearly has a lot of potential for radio and radio news and all credit to Andrew for experimenting. He says:
“The whole point was for the Audioboos to compliment the on-air and on-line content with a third strand - social media. I was attempting to bring a "backstage behind the scenes" feel to the content. Nothing at all was scripted from anyone, so it was completely off the cuff and rough and ready. It was to appeal as much to those actually at the festival as those listening on their iphones elsewhere.It was the first time we've ever done it and repeated it again at the Hard Rock Calling Festival in Hyde Park later that month.”
Here are a selection of Andrew's boos:
Worth mentioning BBC London 94.9 too, journalist Steve Phillips has been using Audioboo to promote programmes via 60 second interviews with presenters.
Biggest Talk Radio Success
Although I ran news and programmes at its rival, BBC London for 2 years, you can be nothing but impressed by LBC 97.3’s performance this year. You can see from the graph below, its huge growth in reach and share (that share larger in RAJAR Q3 than its big sister, Heart London).
I think it has grown stronger in 2009 with the bedding in of James Whale at Drivetime. With Nick Ferrari at breakfast, here are two very strong talk radio presenters getting the listener to and from work. Similar in many ways, they send clear messages about what to expect from the station. Throughout the day, I think it is the repositioning of LBC 97.3 as a pure news and talk station which is now paying off. As we know, listeners like to know what they’re getting and the station consistently delivers on its strapline of “London’s Biggest Conversation”. Highly visable, iconic marketing in the branding of 300 London cabs was also impressive this year. Can LBC 97.3 continue its success in 2010 or will a new breakfast show at BBC London shake things up? It will be an interesting one to watch. In the meantime, congratulations to all involved in Leicester Square.
Blooper of The Year
Ok, the top three.
At 3, it’s that man again. Andrew Bailey gets it off his chest on Absolute Radio.
At 2, Be afraid Lancashire. Lancashire be very afraid. Five Live has a bombshell.
At 1, I challenge you not to giggle too, with a disclaimer that I think it is from his year but its a nice nod to Uncle Tel anyway!!
So, there you have it – The Talkies 2010. I don’t think those of us working in news and talk radio always get the recognition we deserve and I hope I have managed to correct that in a small way with this. I have definitely heard examples of work I wouldn’t have otherwise which I suspect will be the same for you. Thank you to those who got involved and provided content including Andrew Bailey, Paul Easton, Laura Harmes and Adam Westbrook. If you feel your work should have been mentioned, please post a link below. I would love to hear it. So, er, is there an after party?