Fancy a Gold Sony Award on your mantelpiece?

Then read this – a plea from a shy Sony-winner and former judge…

Dear Sound Women

Right now many of you will be working all the time given frantically getting your work done in time for Christmas, so you may be pushing the thought of Sony entries aside to the last minute. Please think again.

Sound Women are on a mission to get a higher proportion of female Sony winners in 2012 and that can’t happen if you don’t enter.

We can think of many reasons why Sony Awards have been predominantly won by men in the past, such as more male judges, women not pushing to get their shows entered, or women not being the named producer or presenter on the entry.  We have spoken to the awards organisers and have provided them with our list of 200 women in radio, so we are hopeful that this year women will be better represented amongst the judges, if not on the awards organising panel itself.

However women can’t win the awards if they don’t enter them, or indeed waste the entry they do put in. It’s down to you to you to ask your bosses to think about entering your work, or if you are your own boss – enter it yourself. It could be the best £102 -£180 you spent.  It’s also down to you to edit an entry which puts your work in the best possible light.

Here are some top tips to make the best of what you have got and ensure your entry is the best it can be.

1.   Put your best content at the start

You would be surprised how many award entries don’t do this. Imagine that the Sony judges only listen to the first 5 minutes (they may have 40 to get through) and make sure that those 5 minutes are the highest quality, most engaging, entertaining and downright special audio you have got.

2.  Follow the instructions clearly and to the letter

If they ask for a maximum of 30 minutes content, don’t enter any more, and don’t put 15 minutes either. Use the entire arsenal you have up your sleeve without cheating to make it the best it can be. Look at the rules for your entry clearly – If you put the wrong entry in you can be immediately disqualified.

3.  Clever tricks

Some stations make sure they include trails in their submissions, which have been beautifully edited with show highlights from across the month. These are valid as they went on air in that form. Do check the rules to make sure your tricks are within the guidelines though…

4.  Write an all-singing, all-dancing write-up of your programme

Needless to say, your written submission needs to be full of enticing and exciting reasons why your programme is outstanding.  The catch is that this needs to be 250 words or under (in 2011 – do check for 2012) so try to make every word count. Focus on what makes your entry outstanding, why is it unique in your category? Why should the judges pay special attention to this award? Don’t bombard them with stats and RAJARS and don’t assume the judges know your station history, the presenters or the area you broadcast in.

5. Finally just like a school essay, tailor your entry and the written material to the criteria outlined for that category  

Judging panels are made up of 3-5 people and they take each entry at face value and will simply decide what piece of audio is best for their category’s criteria.  Edit the entry so it gives the judges goose bumps, or shocks them, or simply makes them take notice. The audio must stand out from all the rest from the outset.

6. If you make a show on the internet or produce a podcast, don’t be put off by these awards, they’re for you too

If you can find a way to raise the funds, give it a go, as this category has a lot of variety in the entries and it might just be your turn in 2012.

Following these instructions isn’t a sure fire way to get a Sony Award nomination, you’ll also need a little bit of luck, but it will help…  Go for it.

There’s more advice on entering for a Sony here and here.  But you’ve got to be in it to win it…  BEST OF LUCK!

Time For Change, Today

You may have seen a feature in the Guardian yesterday about the number of women in the media – the stats are shocking even for those of us who are quite hardened to this.

One of the figures is that a whopping 84% of reporters and guests on Radio 4’s Today programme are men.  In fact, on 5 July you had to wait from 6.15am until 8.20am to hear the one female contributor who appeared alongside the 27 male contributors on the programme (Arts Correspondent Rebecca Jones talking about the Hampton Court flower show).

Today Editor Ceri Thomas’ response to this is that they are working on it, but also that, essentially, the audience aren’t interested:

“I’m bound to say to you, it almost never comes up as an issue from the audience…  I suppose it might be two letters a year, or something of that nature.”

Only two letters of complaint a year?  We think this is something we should put right.  If everyone on our mailing list writes to BBC Trust Chairman Chris Patten, that will be nearly 400 emails.  If everyone asks a friend to write as well, that’ll be 800.  And so on.  And so on.  Until Ceri and the BBC make a change.

Please write to BBC Trust Chairman Sir Chris Patten!

We have drafted a letter here, but please feel very free to adapt and change it, especially if you are a Today/Radio 4 listener and have additional points you’d like to make.  Women who don’t work in radio but are tired of listening to men in suits please go ahead and adapt the letter before hitting ‘send’.  Similarly, men who care about this issue, please delete the line about being “a woman working in radio” and write too!  We would be delighted to feel the warmth of your support…


Dear Lord Patten

The Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 has four male presenters and just one woman, Sarah Montague.  In addition to this, today it’s been revealed that on average 84% of its guests and reporters are male, and just 16% female.

As a woman working in the radio industry, and an avid radio listener, I am deeply disappointed by these figures.  If the Today audience is made up of 50-50 men and women, as Today Editor Ceri Thomas claims, then this means that the women in that audience are being under-represented and badly served.

Ceri Thomas also says he receives only two letters of complaint a year, and seems to think this means the audience don’t care about the issue.  Well we do care.  We don’t always write letters of complaint – sometimes we change to another station or shout at our radio instead – but if it will make a difference then please accept this as a letter of complaint, to which I would greatly appreciate a response.

I know the representation of women on air is an issue you feel strongly about, and have spoken about before.  I hope you can encourage the BBC to bring about the change that is needed, and look forward to hearing a more balanced version of the Today programme, with many more female contributors, reporters and presenters very soon.

Thank you for reading this email.

Best wishes



Please send it to Chris Patten at and cc in his assistant

Please also encourage as many people as possible to do the same.  It would be great to have as many as possible sent by the end of the week.  Sound Women will keep you posted of progress and please let us know if and when you get a reply.