Community Radio awards 2016 preview
In this guest post, Martin Steers, chair of The Community Radio Awards explains why he believes community radio stations and the volunteers who staff them deserve the same recognition afforded to those in other UK radio sectors… and what he’s doing to help.
Martin Steers, chair of the Community Radio Awards
“I have always felt that community radio stations need to be better at shouting about themselves, and recognising the valuable work they do in their communities every day.
My interest in radio began in my childhood, like many, but my passion was really fuelled by my time in student radio while at university. During that time, I successfully wrote and applied for a community radio licence, and could really see the impact that volunteers on air could have in the local area.
Since then, I’ve interned in the public sector, and worked professionally in both community and commercial radio stations.
As commercial radio has become more and more centralised, community radio has had a real part to play in bringing communities together and keeping them connected.
Community radio isn’t just about Barry from the local village having a 60s show every week – though the value of that shouldn’t be underestimated – stations are a treasure trove of specialist content that’s now hard to find elsewhere. It’s about local news, views, guests, and letting the community have a say.
I’ve seen so many stations at the heart of their communities, both running and covering events in their local area, but often staying out of the limelight themselves.
I know it’s tough for stations out there – and although the closures seem to have slowed in recent months, they’re still not unheard of – and I believe it’s really important to recognise the work of the stations putting 110% into their communities.
I’ve been mooting these awards for several years, and I am so proud that this not-for-profit project has finally come to fruition. Stations in the commercial, student, and hospital sectors get the opportunity to recognise the excellent work they do – but community volunteers – who often make the most impact, have been overlooked until now.
For me, the key is a rigorous judging process, and strong shortlisting. Stations deserve to know what they’re doing really, really well – and give other stations a chance to learn from best practice up and down the country.
How to enter
Stations can enter, and so can volunteers – it’s a wholly inclusive process, with an inclusive and accessible entry fee of £5 to cover the costs of systems and delivering the awards. Entry is open to volunteers at any of the UK’s Ofcom licenced community stations, and I am delighted to be involved in helping to reward those who are valued locally at a national level.”
More details at communityradioawards.co.uk
Martin Steers is chair of the Community Radio Awards. The scheme is supported by the Community Media Association and entries open in May for a three week period.
Any plan to highlight the best work in radio is welcome, and it’s good to see these awards include a category for station sound and marketing; areas we focus on within Earshot.
The size of a station does not change the competitive space in which it operates. Only by communicating clearly and attractively its offer and personality can any station attract and hold listeners.
It will be instructive to highlight who is doing the best marketing and promotions work in the community radio sector.
Details of the event
The Community Radio Awards will be held in Birmingham on Saturday 10 September 2016 as part of the Community Media Association’s conference.
The event will be hosted by Birmingham City University’s School of Media.
Update 17 August 2016
There was a little confusion between these CMA-backed Community Radio awards and an independent scheme planned separately in the North of England. The organisers of those alternative awards have now decided not to go ahead.