I’m standing backstage with my award tucked under my arm. I’ve just been photographed with Eammon Holmes and interviewed by someone who commented on how much I was shaking. I look around me and blurt out to the nearest person, ‘What do I do now?’ ‘Er….go back to your seat…’ they suggest with a hint of an eye roll.
Right, yes, of course. Back to my seat. And yet they could’ve said ‘Oh now you go off to be congratulated by the Queen’ and I’d have just nodded and left for Buckingham Palace. As I’ve just won the Sony Gold for Best On-Air Contributor and nothing now could surprise me.
I found out I was nominated on my honeymoon. I rang my dad to tell him. ‘Outstanding’, he said before hanging up and immediately calling his local paper, the Evening Echo, to give them what he believed to be the scoop of the year. It made it to page 36.
I was up against stiff competition including last year’s winner Mark Kermode and the legendary Moira Stewart so didn’t once dare to dream I’d actually win. This turned out to be a mistake. The reason why it’s good to dare to dream you’d win is that you might then have a vague idea of the speech you have to make.
Hearing my name announced as the winner by Eammon Holmes was a huge thrill mixed with huge terror that I’d have to stand up, walk up on to the stage and speak in front of all these people. It was all very surreal but I managed to thank everyone that I needed to and make it backstage before I embarrassed myself with the ‘what do I do now?’
I later went outside to ring my dad. We had a brief chat in which he promised not to ring up the local paper again. Before hanging up and ringing the local paper again. This time I made it to page 7.
Winning was an amazing experience. While I don’t think anyone’s main motivating force should be the winning of awards, it is incredible to have your work recognised in this way. I know On Air Contributor isn’t the most prestigious award, perhaps best reflected by the fact it was axed after 2 years. And there is a bit of snobbery about women who are sidekicks to a main male presenter. But as long as you aspire to do more than just giggle at whatever your co-host says, it’s a brilliant learning on the job experience. Especially if you’re lucky enough to work with a presenter as talented as I have, the radio natural, Geoff Lloyd.
The question I get asked most about my job is ‘when are you getting your own show?’ I finally have an answer as I’ll be soon starting my own weekly slot on Absolute Radio 70s. My award may have helped me in achieving this next step. So it would be great if more women were successful at the Sonys. I think the lack of women in top radio jobs is just a hangover of more chauvinistic times. And no hangover lasts forever. (Although I did once have one for 8 days. But that’s another story).
My Sony glory (allow me to use the word glory, the chances are it’ll never happen again) was not just a career highlight, but a life highlight. It made every second of hard work all worthwhile. My proud dad, in between ringing up the local paper to give them more quotes, told me it was in the top 5 best experiences of his life. And if that’s not enough to motivate you to make sure one day you’re up on the stage at the Grosvenor House Hotel, I’ll also add that physically the award is very hefty, so kept by the side of the bed like mine, could prove very useful one day for tackling intruders. Just don’t forget, after winning, you just go back to your seat. That’s what you do next.
Annabel Port is Absolute Radio’s Hometime co-presenter