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The Sony Awards

Wednesday 13 May 2009, 13:28

Mark Damazer Mark Damazer

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One of Radio 4's many Sony Radio Academy Awards

The Sonys on Monday - Radio's big awards night of the year - is a largely enjoyable ritual. The evening at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London's Park Lane is long - but there is more goodwill around than in many of these sort of occasions. And it is the only time the industry can see itself in the round - or a semblance of the round.

Thus those assembled in the cavernous ballroom come from the BBC and Commercial Radio, from big stations and small stations and from those who are in music radio and those who focus on speech. In recent years alcohol consumption has fallen and the acceptance speeches have been shorn of most of their baroque ornamentation.

Radio 4 did fine - even if the predominant hue was silver rather than gold. The tally was 3 Gold awards, 10 Silver and 2 Bronzes. In some other years we have won more Golds and fewer Silvers - but it's still a decent haul and down to the skill of the programme-makers - both from within the BBC and the independent radio companies that provide us with many excellent programmes. Here are the details:

Radio 4's winners

The Drama Award.
: Mr Larkin's Awkward Day
Silver: The Color Purple
Bronze: Goldfish Girl

The Interview Award
: Fergal Keane interviews Lana Vandenberghe

The News and Current Affairs Award
: Today

The News Special Award
: Poetry From The Front Line

The News Journalist of the Year
: Mike Thomson

Speech Radio Personality of the Year
: Eddie Mair

The Speech Broadcaster of the Year
: Evan Davis

The Comedy Award
: Count Arthur Strong's Radio Show!
Bronze: The Now Show

The Feature Award
: Anatomy Of a Car Crash
Bronze: Leonard and Marianne

The Breaking News Award
: Attacks in Mumbai

The Themed Programming Award
: 1968 - Myth or Reality?

The Multiplatform Radio Award
: World On The Move

Radio 3 - happily - won the Station of the Year Award - for the first time. Here is the list of all the awards made on the night.

Of course every year there are some programmes - whether big programme strands or individual documentaries - you particularly wish had won the top bauble... but restraint is called for. It would not be right to single out in public any single programme.

The Radio 4 winners were all top notch. Count Arthur Strong, winner of the comedy award, is a very strong flavour - one very much to my taste. We know that there is a section of the audience that doesn't get it - but we also know that another section of the audience loves it with feeling. Steve Delaney - the comic genius behind the programme - picked up the award as himself. I had wondered whether he might make his acceptanace speech in character. There will be another series. Catch it.

The Drama award was won by Mr Larkin's Awkward Day - written by Chris Harrald. It provides a delicious insight into Philip Larkin's character - and has a tremendous sense of period. We will repeat it.

And Fergal Keane's interview with Lana Vandenberghe (from the programme strand 'Taking a Stand') - who when working at the Independent Police Complaints Commission in London leaked documents about the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. Fergal pressed her hard - but with careful politeness. A terrific piece. Listen to the programme here.

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    Comment number 1.

    Eddy Mair is certainly deserving of an award. Who knows, if all people invited on to IPM turned up it might have been gold!

    Count Arthur Strong. I do not understand this. The Now Show is very, very good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I've just listened to the comments on road deaths on radio 4's Today program. If we wish to reduce the 3000 per annum death rate why, as in this case, does no one ever mention jay walking pedestrians, cyclists( of whom a significant proportion do not follow the highway code), and the fact that there are virtually no police out of their police cars to deal with these problems.
    Try jay walking in the USA. You'll eventually be caught and dealt with

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    Comment number 3.

    As a BBC Radio 3 listener, I would, reluctantly, and despite this month's Sony Radio Academy Awards, admit that Radio 4 probably still has the edge over 3, Mark, particularly in the sense of its breadth of coverage.

    It remains, in my view, the intelligent voice of radio, which means that as I am a very selective listener to your station, there is still so very much for me to learn. This is what public service broadcasting should, at its best, still be doing.

    So what is radio 4? Both Radio 3 and Radio 4 should still be trying to work out what it means to be human in the twenty-first century. Of course, R3 carries the weight of history, or at least the classical canon, at the proms, for example, but how can we know where we are going unless we appreciate from whence we come?

    A good rough test of the efficacy of art (including music), in my opinion, is the extent to which it reconciles us with life. To the extent that R4 continues to do so for me, Mark, you have my gratitude. Thank you for trying so hard. Cheers (morning coffee)!



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