The Sony Radio Academy Awards 2012: The Year of Betty and Beryl!

by Miranda Sawyer

Betty and Beryl! Without doubt, the award of the evening went to two older ladies from Radio Humberside, who, rightly, won a Sony Gold for Best Entertainment Programme. They got a standing ovation and one of the biggest cheers of the night. Who says older women are overlooked, eh?

B and B grabbed the headlines, but the Sonys were different in other ways. For their 30th anniversary, the awards introduced live music, from Jesse J, Gary Barlow and Alexandra Burke – who wore a Pink Floyd T-shirt, pop reference spotters. They also moved the stage from the centre to the side, stage location spotters.

Other than that, what was new? Well, without a doubt, the Sonys this year felt like less of a lad-fest. Plenty of female producers on the winners’ mic; awards handed out by both men and women. Victoria Derbyshire won Best Speech Broadcaster, a real toughie; Fearne Cotton scooped Best Music Programme. There were still entire categories, such as Speech Radio Personality and Music Broadcaster, without a single female nominee, but there had clearly been a behind-the-scenes effort to make the awards more representative, at least in their presentation. Fewer ‘what a lovely dress’ comments from Chris Evans, too. Though poor old Andy Grey can’t help himself, can he? When Keys and Grey won Best Sports Programme for their talkSPORT show, Grey, in his onstage speech, referred to the only female team-member as “beautiful”. Andy, she’ll survive without your adjectives. Really, she will.

What else? It was utterly great to see 6Music win Station of the Year. Just two years ago, it really did look like it would close. The campaign to save 6Music was an amazing thing. Not only did it work, but it brought a confidence and belief to the station and its listeners; the same confidence and belief that led to it winning Sony Gold. 6Music is proof that when people with passion organise themselves and shout about what they believe in, then those at the top will listen.

Which gives me heart for Sound Women. We only came into existence after last year’s Sonys, sparked into action after the tiresome boys-together atmosphere and lack of female nominees. There’s still some way to some way to go; but I like to think that last night’s Sonys, with their more inclusive approach, their rejection of old-school golf club ideals, were influenced by our on-going campaign. Onwards and upwards!

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