Opinion: The Sony Awards by Paul Sylvester


To win awards, you have to make great content, you have to be brave, bold and on the top of your game. Last night the Sony Radio Academy awards once again proved that our industry has much to be proud of in terms of its creativity, passion and a wealth of talent which is truly world-class.

For Christian to scoop three awards and the radio station to take gold and bronze in the Branded Content category plus a bronze for our InStream technology sends a clear message to the industry that Absolute Radio is in the rudest of health, curating programmes with our audience, commercial partners, with innovation at the heart of everything we do. Christian has now won 10 Sony Gold awards in 10 years, something unparalleled in Sony Award history. In trying to find words to recognise this achievement, I’ll defer to the judges’ comments from the Music Radio Personality of the Year who sum it up perfectly:

Christian is funny, smart and a great storyteller – your ultimate friendly next door neighbour. But add to that the fact that he completely gets radio; he knows his target audience inside out and he uses the medium cleverly and creatively. The combination makes Christian unbeatable.

Congratulations to the whole breakfast team for taking silver in the blue-riband best breakfast category, beating Chris Evans and coming second to the national institution which is the Today programme which enjoyed a halcyon year. From ‘Man On Wireless’, to ‘Spandathon’, we knew the breakfast show had enjoyed a purple patch in terms of its creativity, not everyone can seamlessly integrate work-benches, combi-drills and protective clothing into a breakfast show’s branded content, but Christian and Richie managed just that……..with a little help from their friends.

The judges said this entry stood out from the rest. It hit the core values of the brand and stations audiences. It was a witty and innovative feature that literally had everything, including David Tennant, listeners impersonating drills and a kitchen sink. The content was un-missable.

InStream taking bronze, less than a year after launching demonstrates Absolute Radio’s commitment to redefining the way radio is consumed by an online audience. It’s clearly working with the judges using our own words in their citation:

This entry clearly redefines radio’s online future: unlocking additional revenue, and makes significantly better-sounding radio.

Congratulations go to Geoff, Annabel and the Hometime team on their double nomination and a stunning review of their show in this weekend’s Observer. Unfortunately Ronnie Wood wasn’t able to attend this year, apparently he’s got a day job in a band. This was Ronnie’s 4th Sony nomination and the 12th award nomination for the programme in three years. It is without question one of the most successful programmes of its kind, unique in commercial radio and testament to the incredibly close collaboration with Ronnie’s producer Claire Neal and the team at Somethin’ Else. Here’s what the judges had to say:

Ronnie Wood’s skill as a radio presenter has grown and grown. This show reflects a presenter who is a great storyteller – engaging the listener with his passion and energy. This is an upbeat, rewarding listen.

He is able to give great insight into the individual tracks played on the show, and can tease out new insights into his interviewees (in particular, his interview with Sir Paul McCartney gave us a relaxed and insightful interview with one of music’s legends, all within the context of a shared respect and love of music).

Ronnie’s ability to pick up the guitar and illustrate his points is a skill which draws the audience in – and the relaxed manner in which he glides from performer, to host, to interviewer is a tribute to his strength as a presenter.

This a great listen – which reflects a love of music in every second of every show.

Congratulations to BBC Radio 5Live on a great haul, reflective of a superb Olympic year for the station. Sharing the stage controllers past and present, Jonathan Wall and Adrian Van-Klaveren delivered a speech which oozed class, passion and a sense of what makes radio ‘special’.

Elsewhere, the re-birth of Metro Radio continued as they scooped Radio Station of the Year (1 million+), Danny Baker delivered the crowd-pleasing speech which the audience (..or at least most of the audience) had been waiting for. Well done to Gem 106’s Sam and Amy who took Gold for best Breakfast show (under 10 million). Their speech reminds even the most cynical amongst us what it feels like to hear your name and take to the stage for the first time.

In a year when many of the winners were returning faces, it’s crucial we recognise and nurture the next generation. Commercial radio still has much to do to compete with the BBC in terms of nominations and wins, we must use this as an opportunity to examine why this is the case while simultaneously celebrating an organisation which continues to deliver a high quality product that succeeds in entertaining and educating across all services and platforms.

So that’s it, the generic brown meat has been consumed, the suits and dresses are heading to the dry cleaners and the hard work begins again for next year. Well done to John Myers, Riza, Mandy and the Radio Academy team for a night which makes a bold statement and which serves as a permanent reminder of a great year for both Absolute Radio and our industry as a whole.

By Paul Sylvester Absolute Radio’s Head of Presentation

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  1. [...] can see the full list of winners here. We’d also recommend taking a peak at our friends at Absolute Radio’s blog who have done some excellent analysis of the results (we particularly like clicking on the [...]

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