Radio Jersey wins Radio Academy Award

Radio Jersey team BBC Radio Jersey: the winning team celebrating their 30th birthday

For the second year running, Radio Jersey is a winner in the Radio Academy's Nations and Regions Awards.

The small local radio station - which only has a team of 24 - has been commended by the judges for 'punching above its weight' and sounding slick, engaged and professional.

The annual awards recognise outstanding content on UK local radio. The 11 winners are automatically entered into the Sony Station of the Year (under 300,000) category.

Managing editor Jon Gripton, who only arrived at the station two years ago, believes this award is in recognition of Radio Jersey's 'fiercely local programming output' that embraces and celebrates island life.

As an island with its own government and judicial system, the task of the public radio station is an essential one for the island's inhabitants, who number nearly 100,000.

'We're effectively a national broadcaster, albeit we're a local radio station,' argues Gripton. 'We have to hold to account the island's government, the ministers and the people who are making the decisions - and we do that.'

Jon Gripton Jon Gripton says that moving to Jersey was part of a lifestyle change

Gripton came to Jersey after 10 years at Sky News, where he was working as a senior news editor on the television desk and also helping on the website.

Softer feel

In this short tenure at the BBC, he's worked hard to 'soften the feel of the radio station a bit' so that it reflects his listeners' love of where they live, from the beaches and the food to the milder weather.

'I felt, rightly or wrongly when I arrived here, that the radio station was slightly sitting in judgement of the island rather than celebrating its part in the island,' he says.

Radio Jersey has worked hard to align itself with the island's big events - such as the Jersey marathon and Battle of Flowers carnival - and it mounted 12 ambitious outside broadcasts in each of the island's 12 parishes over the last year.

Channel 103 is their local, commercial rival - but Gripton believes it's the investment in journalism which sets the BBC station apart.

He singles out their breakfast show for its high standards: 'It's hard-hitting, it interviews all the big politicians. You get a real sense that for the people [of Jersey] this is their Today programme. They want to know what is going on in their world.'

The radio station was also tested last year with a huge breaking news story about a multiple stabbing in St Helier, with staff working round the clock to cover the tragedy.

This year has been momentous for coverage of the torch relay, which came to the island; the Queen's Diamond Jubilee; and also because the station celebrated its 30th birthday in the spring.

The editor, who also manages BBC Channel Islands Television, says he doesn't miss Sky News, which enjoys a much higher profile. 'Jersey advertises itself as the warmest place in the British Isles. I've got a young daughter. I'd lie if I didn't say part of it was about the lifestyle.'

  • Northern Ireland's BBC Radio Foyle also won an award from the Radio Academy. The judges said it 'linked with the DNA of its audience, aware of the bread and butter local issues but conscious of also casting an eye to developments on the national and international stage'.

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