Community radio sweeps the board at Nations and Regions awards

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Community radio stations from around the UK are celebrating after winning no fewer than six regional awards in the Radio Academy Nations and Regions Awards 2013.

Stations in the East Midlands, London, Northern Ireland, the South West, Wales and Yorkshire have taken home top awards – and gone through to next year’s national Radio Academy Awards (formerly the Sony Awards).

Jaqui Devereux, Director of the Community Media Association, says: “The Nations & Regions Award 2013 showcase some of the very best talent in community radio broadcasting from the centre of their communities and, in spite of reduced funding and adverse economic conditions, managing to excel on delivering social gain objectives such as providing access to the media for under-served groups, providing education and training opportunities, and developing and strengthening community links.

“Six out of the twelve winning entries are from community radio stations located all around the UK and including London. The winning stations are of all sizes – from small local broadcasters such as Somer Valley to the larger urban stations such as BCB and Raidió Fáilte.

“After over ten years on the air, we believe that community radio is maturing and becoming an integral and indispensable part of the broadcast landscape. Our sector has found its voice producing confident and innovative programming from and for local communities – and at last this is being recognised.

“We are especially delighted that all six winners are active members of the Community Media Association demonstrating that the CMA as a member organisation in its 30th anniversary year remains as relevant to the sector today as when it was set up to campaign for a community radio sector.

“The community broadcasting sector is as healthy and vibrant as it has ever been and there is no slow down in the growth of the sector with thirty-eight applicants for the North-West and Yorkshire licence region and a huge rush for licences anticipated in London and the South-East next year.

“The CMA urges Government to recognise the wealth of talent in the industry and the valuable work undertaken by the community radio sector in delivering statutory social gain objectives and to look for ways to improve funding conditions for community radio stations by, for example, increasing the size of the Community Radio Fund and utilising the sector more for Government media campaigns.

“The CMA congratulates all participants in the Nations & Regions Awards 2013 for their commitment to passionate grass-roots community broadcasting and we look forward to seeing more community radio winners in 2014.”

The winners from our sector, along with the judges’ opinions on each entry, are as follows:

East Midlands – Siren FM: “Siren FM is a really ambitious and creatively interesting station. They’re doing something different but in their own way and are firmly rooted in their community. A mix of local experiences and stories with global themes – relating the world to Lincolnshire and vice versa. This entry displayed a great range of voices and topics on air as well as a great mix of youth, heritage, diversity and local history. A student station that demonstrates good engagement with both students and the wider listener. The schedule was eclectic and the station sounded good and fresh.”

London & South East – National Prison Radio: “This is a station with a clear understanding of its purpose and who it serves, whilst all the while being a force for positive change. Programming is focused, relevant and at times inspirational with some great insight for their audience. This entry demonstrated high quality radio and showcased great skills and natural talent; brilliantly combining real people’s stories with interesting and intellectual debate. A great range of items, hugely informative, honest and a genuinely compulsive listen.”

Northern Ireland – Raidió Fáilte 107.1fm: “It was a total joy to listen to this entry and a real treat for the ears. Raidió Fáilte oozes passion for its language, its audience, and for radio itself in everything that it does. It works hard to promote and preserve not just a language, but also creative and authentic radio. It’s refreshing to know that our industry can find a place for bilingual Irish/ Polish/ French programmes! The judges found this region particularly tough to judge, but despite stiff competition from other excellent stations, Raidió Fáilte won out through its ambition and breadth.”

South West – Somer Valley FM: “Bursting with ideas and ambition, Somer Valley remains true to its ethos of “Popular Local Radio With A Powerful Social Agenda”. Programmed with unashamed variety, it is polished, fun and knows how to tell a great story and engage with its audience. A wide ranging and ambitious station which feels like it’s truly by and for its community with high-quality output from OBs to sport commentary and specialist music. A lovely variety of content, that made you really want to listen and discover more about the area. By offering a service by and for the very local community, this station was a compulsive listen that gave a good flavour of the area and discussed some important issues whilst sounding great.”

Wales – Calon FM: “Calon FM serves its audience well with its clever use of language and colourful story telling. This is a station with a strong and impressive range of bilingual output from arts through to politics, and some really strong presenters. The station is very accessible, stays fun throughout and fulfils one of the best yet simplest straplines – uniting the community. Truly local and interactive, it offers a great service to the area on a budget.”

Yorkshire – BCB 106.6fm: “Capturing the heartache and joy of life in its area, BCB punches well above its weight with passionate programming that handles its subject matter with respect and integrity. It clearly loves broadcasting to Bradford and delivers a product that the city can be proud of. The station sounded celebratory about the people and place that it serves – exactly how community radio should sound. You can clearly hear how this station has taken the time to genuinely integrate itself within the community. It feels totally at one with its audience.”

The excellent showing from the sector comes after a year of awards success, with community radio groups being nominated for many of last year’s Sony Awards, along with this year’s Radio Production Awards and many local and regional awards.

A number of local commercial stations won the Nations and Regions awards for East Anglia, the Midlands, the North East, North West, Scotland and the South.

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