Entertainment & Arts

Tony Blackburn receives golden anniversary honour

Tony Blackburn Image copyright PA
Image caption Tony Blackburn began his broadcasting career on pirate station Radio Caroline

Tony Blackburn has picked up a special honour at The Radio Academy Awards, marking his 50 years on the airwaves.

It is the second time the DJ has received the academy's Gold Award - having originally been honoured on his silver anniversary in 1989.

"It's very kind of you," said the 71-year-old. "I want to thank the medical team that keep me going."

BBC Radio 2 won Station of the Year, while LBC's phone-ins with Nick Clegg and Boris Johnson got a special award.

Ask Boris and Call Clegg have consistently made headlines, as listeners question London's Mayor and the Deputy Prime Minister on their policies and current events.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Boris Johnson accepted the award with LBC host Nick Ferrari
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Image caption Emilia Fox, Matt Cardle and Melanie C were among the presenters at the ceremony

Mr Johnson dedicated the prize to the programme's production team, without whom, he said, he was just "an overweight Belgian tourist" on the Alpine slopes of live radio.

He also thanked "the people of London, who have listened in their dozens."

It was one of three awards for commercial broadcaster LBC, which went national last year.

However, the BBC dominated the ceremony, formerly known as the Sony Awards, topping 22 of the ceremony's 34 categories.

Zane Lowe victory

BBC Radio 4 won more top prizes than any other station, with gold awards for best music documentary (Strange Fruit), best drama (The Morpeth Carol) and best comedy (The Secret World).

Winifred Robinson's moving, illuminating interview with the father of murdered toddler Jamie Bulger was named interview of the year.

And John Sergeant handed the best news programme prize to Radio 4's PM.

Asked by host Chris Evans to explain why Jeremy Paxman had quit Newsnight, the former political correspondent replied: "He wants to be a ballroom dancer".

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Image caption Rock group The Kaiser Chiefs closed the ceremony, despite singer Ricky Wilson's injury

Commercial station Absolute got four awards, including best speech programme for Frank Skinner's weekly show.

"This is like The Hungry Caterpillar winning the Booker Prize," said the comedian.

Radio 1 took three awards, including best entertainment show for drivetime host Greg James, and best documentary for Tempted by Teacher, an investigation of student-teacher relationships.

Evening show DJ Zane Lowe, meanwhile, was named music broadcaster of the year for the fifth time.

"Thanks to the academy for recognising that I love music," said the New Zealander, whose bizarre interview with Kanye West went viral last year.

"That's all I'm here to do - to put music and audiences together."

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Image caption Myleene Klass presented Greg James with his award

He was given his award by Kaiser Chiefs singer Ricky Wilson, who was sporting an eyepatch, after an accident on the set of his latest music video.

"I only had time to apply mascara to one eye," he joked. "It's all affectation, like Chris Eubank with his monocle."

Chris Evans failed to win the Music Radio Personality of the Year category, which went to Sam Pinkham and Amy Voce, who present the breakfast show on East Midlands station Gem 106.

"Oh crumbs!" said Voce, who apologised to the Radio 2 host as she took to the stage.

"This is really awkward, because our heroes are in this category."

Lisa Snowdon and Dave Berry won breakfast show of the year for their "original, confident" slot on Capital FM, while Danny Baker won speech presenter of the year for his 5 live show.

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Image caption Gem 106's Sam and Amy beat the likes of Graham Norton and Chris Evans to the title of music radio personality of the year

Blackburn's career has been full of high-profile presenting jobs, including being the first DJ to broadcast on Radio 1 when it launched in September 1967 - a station where he spent 17 years.

He then presented BBC London's weekday mid-morning show before becoming one of the launch presenters on Capital Gold.

Since 2010 he has hosted Radio 2's Pick of the Pops, and he also currently presents shows on BBC London 94.9, BBC Radio Berkshire, the Magic network, BBC3CR and KMFM.

He was presented with his Gold Award by Graham Norton, whose own Radio show precedes Pick of the Pops on Saturday mornings.

"My greatest pleasure at Radio 2 is every Saturday morning when Tony comes into our studio," said Norton.

"He bounces in and I go, 'how are you Tony?'

"And he replies: 'Still not arrested!'"

Image caption Blackburn on BBC Radio 1 in the 1970s

In his speech, Blackburn thanked his many employers over the years, and made special mention of Radio Caroline founder Ronan O'Rahilly.

"I've never heard anyone say thanks to Ronan," he said, "but he's the man who started it all.

"I'm very grateful to Radio Caroline. They brought about the radio we have now, and without them I certainly wouldn't be here... So they've got a lot to answer for."

Blackburn went on to say he had recently considered retiring live on air, in the style of US chat show host David Letterman.

"I got my family together last week, and I said it's probably time I spent more time with you at home.

"And they all said to me, 'we'd rather you didn't.' So I've decided to go on for another 50 years."


  • Gold Award: Tony Blackburn
  • Special Award: The production & presentation team for Call Clegg and Ask Boris - LBC
  • UK Station of the Year: BBC Radio 2
  • Breakfast Show of the Year (under 10 million listeners): Iain Lee - BBC Three Counties Radio
  • Breakfast Show of the Year (over 10 million listeners): The Capital Breakfast Show with Dave Berry and Lisa Snowdon - Capital FM
  • Speech Radio Broadcaster of the Year: Victoria Derbyshire - BBC Radio 5 live
  • Music Radio Broadcaster of the Year: Zane Lowe - BBC Radio 1
  • Music Radio Personality of the Year: Sam & Amy - Gem 106
  • Speech Radio Personality of the Year: Danny Baker - BBC Radio 5 live
  • Best Entertainment Programme: Greg James - BBC Radio 1
  • Best News and Current Affairs Programme: PM - BBC Radio 4
  • Best Speech Programme: The Frank Skinner Show - Absolute Radio
  • Best Sports Programme: The Day We Won Wimbledon - BBC Radio 5 live
  • Best Coverage of a Live Event: The Death of Nelson Mandela - BBC World Service
  • Best Interview of the Year: Winifred Robinson interviews Ralph Bulger - BBC Radio 4
  • Best Drama: The Morpeth Carol - BBC Radio 4
  • Best Comedy: The Secret World - BBC Radio 4
  • Best Music Programme: Jamie Cullum - BBC Radio 2
  • Best Specialist Music Programme: The Beatdown on XFM with Scroobius Pip - XFM
  • Best Community Programming: Slavery on our Streets - LBC
  • Best News Feature or Documentary: Tempted by Teacher - BBC Radio 1
  • Best Music Feature or Documentary: Soul Music: Strange Fruit - BBC Radio 4
  • Best Feature or Documentary: Between the Ears: Mighty Beast - BBC Radio 3
  • Best Competition: The Heart House - Heart West Midlands
  • Best Promotional Campaign: Wimbledon 2013 - BBC World Service
  • Best Use of Branded Content: The Christian O'Connell Breakfast Show with Wickes - Absolute Radio
  • Best Creative Innovation: #Lipdublincoln - BBC Radio Lincolnshire
  • Best Technical Innovation: InStream for Absolute Radio - Absolute Radio
  • Local Radio Journalist of the Year: BBC Radio Norfolk News Team
  • National Radio Journalist of the Year: Tom Swarbrick - LBC
  • Radio Brand of the Year: The Absolute Radio Network
  • Best Station Imaging: KISS FM
  • Station of the Year (audience of under 1 million): BBC Tees
  • Station of the Year (audience of over 1 million): BBC Radio Ulster

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