Buy a VW campervan. Travel around South America. Win a Sony award. These were three goals that I set out to achieve at the start of 2013. And one of those goals has been on that list for several years now… That pesky Sony Award..!
For the last eight years, I’ve co-hosted the Gem 106 breakfast show in the East Midlands (previously Heart 106), and for the last couple of years me and my co-presenter Sam have entered the Sonys. Each year, we’ve sat anxiously watching the nominations online, desperately hoping to hear our names. But no joy. Everyone responded to the disappointment cheerily with, ‘there’s always next year’ – but deep down we were gutted each time we missed out.
This year, however, was different. I’d actually forgotten about the nominations. They had been discussed earlier that morning in the office at Gem 106 but we were flat out that day visiting a school and it was only when I left the school and my phone started beeping uncontrollably that I realised I’d had no signal. Surely my last tweet wasn’t that funny?! The first text I saw said ‘Congratulations’ and I was totally confused. Then ‘YOU’RE SONY NOMINATED-BEST BREAKFAST!!!’ flashed up from my boss at Gem 106. I just sat in my car for the next twenty minutes reading messages while it sank in. The response from friends, colleagues and peers was incredible. I felt an enormous sense of pride for everyone on the show and in our team and relief that this year had paid off. Just to be nominated was a privilege.
The glamorous Grosvenor Hotel, where the annual awards are hosted, really does set it up to be a truly magical night – a fact that was instantly highlighted when Jarvis Cocker brushed past me. And we couldn’t believe our table was so close at the front, within metres of Robbie Williams (!) who opened the show.
By this time, self-preservation had well and truly kicked in and I’d convinced myself we weren’t going to win. But I was keen to enjoy the night regardless and was having a wonderful time as the evening unfolded, watching Chris Evans work the stage and our numerous heroes and peers walking up to collect their awards.
Then the second half began and it was time for our category. Champagne wasn’t enough to cool that odd feeling of excitement, dread and nerves rolled into one. With Bronze and Silver options eliminated the tension felt unbearable. We were still in the running. As Duncan James started describing the show as ‘family friendly’ I felt a nudge in my leg from Sam who whispered, ‘I think this is us,’ to which I sternly replied, ‘Stop it!’
Then came the best time I’ve ever heard our own names announced, ‘SAM AND AMY’. I think the video footage sums up how we felt. I could hardly feel my legs!
After that moment everything turned quite surreal. All these people I admired were suddenly approaching us to congratulate and share our excitement. One of the most hilarious moments occurred backstage immediately after. I was a little in shock when this lovely man started calming me down and excitedly saying ‘well done, you’ve won Gold, just breathe!’ It was Sir Chris Hoy. Basically giving me advice on winning Gold. Amazing.
The rest of the evening was a most enjoyable blur.
To win a Sony Gold Award is something I’d always dreamed of achieving in my radio career. I feel immensely proud of the whole Gem 106 team, they’re all genuinely brilliant people to work with and this has just inspired us to work even harder to achieve more. Especially seeing as Christian O’Connell has set the bar now with his tenth gold under his belt. I mean if anything that’s just hogging it!
If I was to give any advice on winning a Sony, I think our judges summed our show up perfectly by saying we had a ‘rare on air chemistry that is warm genuine and honest.’ Sam is one of my closest friends and we share everything. We are the same on air as we are in real life. Everything in our lives goes on air. We put a huge amount of time into planning and are willing to make sacrifices in our lives for the show. For example, one of the ideas – which made it into the entry – was where we completely swapped lives for a week. There was no faking it. Sam went for dinner with my friends and family and I genuinely lived with his wife and looked after his three-year-old daughter.
We also have a far more robust system than ever of collecting and archiving good audio as soon as we’ve done it. It’s a total cliché but never give up. I remember feeling frustrated that our eight years of early morning starts on breakfast hadn’t paid off as I’d hoped and my wonderfully wise 80-year-old Great Uncle simply saying ‘Patience and Perseverance’. He was absolutely right. Now that’s the bit I should have used in my speech!
The moment we won…