For most of us, November is largely uneventful. Sure, the Americans and Canadians have Thanksgiving to celebrate, and the Brits have Bonfire Night to wave their sparklers frantically in the air, but not much else happens to break up the bitter cold of this winter month. This couldn’t be further from the truth for students involved in radio. November, for those in student radio, is a month of celebration as the Student Radio Association hosts their annual award ceremony, showcasing the best that student radio has to offer.
Hundreds of universities enter the awards every year, with thousands of budding student radio presenters and producers hoping they will be one of the lucky few to receive a nomination. An even smaller number hope they will win the coveted ‘Gold’ award in their chosen category. Our university is no different with University Radio Bath, more commonly known as URB or that purple place in the bottom of the SU, enters the awards every year in a bid to impress industry professionals with the hard work that goes on behind the purple door.
Perhaps most importantly, winners of the SRAs have gone on to great things in radio. It’s not difficult to spot radio royalty amongst the list of previous winners, with BBC Radio 1’s Greg James winning Best Male in 2006, BBC Introducing’s Abbie McCarthy winning Best Newcomer in 2012, and former URB alumni and award-winning sitcom writer Gareth Gwynn winning numerous awards in the early noughties. It therefore comes as no surprise that attendance at the event is of paramount importance, offering the ultimate networking opportunity with the industry’s stars, including Scott Mills and Annie Mac who regularly make an appearance.
The University has seen success in the past, with URB gaining nominations nearly every year. Notably, Mitch Thorngate was awarded Gold for Best Newcomer in 2018. His speech is still fondly remembered by those in attendance as he gave a shout-out to his Mum and Dad, asked the judges to give him a job and of course, a cheeky rum and (diet) coke. This year was no different as URB were nominated for two awards. The first nod was given to the team who covered Bath Varsity live from Cardiff Metropolitan University. The other nomination was in the Best Interview category, as Bath Time’s very own Jordan Edwards was nominated for his thought-provoking interview with former Bath MP Ben Howlett.
In support of their fellow nominees, a cohort of over thirty arrived at the O2 Arena ready to paint London a nice shade of purple (or green and orange for the Campus TV and Bath Time representatives also in attendance). The ceremony was presented by Capital FM’s Aimee Vivian and BBC Radio 1’s Charlie Hedges of Ricky, Melvin and Charlie fame. This marked an important landmark for the event as it was the first time that two female presenters led the festivities, much to the excitement of the crowd and something that is currently reflected in national statistics surrounding student radio involvement. Radio is no longer a boys’ club as many would think, with the industry’s shining stars leading the way for more female presenters in commercial radio.
URB waited patiently for their first potential winning category to be announced – Best Live Event. The team of current Media Officer Owen Midha, Morgan Roberts, David Morgan, Matthew Dawes and Scott Heiron nervously awaited to hear their names announced on the shortlist for the award, with an infamous chant of support quickly following the announcement of their nomination. Sadly, a win did not follow but to be nominated for the award is a huge achievement. With thousands of entries every year and a panel of expert judges scrutinising every entry over three rounds, URB’s nomination shows that the station has the ability to compete with some of the best stations in the nation.
As the evening continued, the URB cohort continued to live up to expectations, raising the roof when Jordan Edwards was announced among the nominees for the ‘Best Interview’ category. Much to his surprise and absolute delight, Jordan was awarded Bronze for his interview. He was narrowly pipped to the post by previous SRA award winner Kaylee Golding, who has a substantial portfolio of professional radio experience. Following Jordan’s win, the roar from the URB cohort could be heard all the way back in Bath, and most likely in Jordan’s hometown in North Wales. This was a fantastic achievement for Jordan, highlighting the quality of his work for URB. His interview also showcased the huge variety and brilliant opportunities on offer for those who get involved in student radio.
The remainder of the event seemed to follow a trend, with University Radio Nottingham, University Radio York and the University of Westminster’s Smoke Radio picking up multiple wins across a number of categories. The final and most coveted accolade of the evening was awarded to Smoke Radio as ‘Best Station’ of the year. This whet the appetites of URB’s current committee who strive to go for this category at the 2020 SRA’s. Sticking to tradition, and perhaps in preparation for next year’s potential win, URB’s former Station Manager Ollie Brookes couldn’t contain his excitement, crashing Smoke Radio’s celebrations on stage. Even the judges couldn’t contain their surprise.
If there’s one thing to take away from my round-up of the SRA’s, it has to be the fantastic opportunities on offer to students who get involved with radio at the University. We might be best known for our rugby teams, academic research and of course, the ducks by the lake but we are also home to a brilliant student media group which is open to everyone. Who knows – you might join and become the next Greg James, or the next Huw Edwards.