Speech radio tops the industry awards chart

Speech radio was this morning celebrating a successful evening at the industry Oscars, with Radio 5 Live being named Station of the Year and the Radio 4 Today programme winning the much-coveted award for best breakfast programme.

In a year dominated by economic downturn, climate change, foreign wars and politics, serious radio has come to the fore. The success of Radio 4, which won six Sony Gold awards, was rewarding for the station’s controller Mark Damazer who is leaving in October to become head of an Oxford college. It also follows an election campaign where media commentators have obsessed over the influence of live television and social networking websites.

The judges said: “In a year of great social & economic upheaval, Today has risen to the challenge of being the country’s programme of record - always relevant, often moving, a cornerstone of British broadcasting.”

Radio 5 Live was described as offering “ the very best in speech radio: penetrating interviews, evocative description, topical news and sports commentary, phone-ins and entertainment”.

Among Radio 4’s Sony Golds was an award for Sir David Attenborough for his work for the BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol. In their citation, the Sony judges said: “This is a masterclass in story-telling, a truly compelling listen and a classic example of vivid mind pictures created through beautifully crafted words, and delivered with a mesmerising and re-assuring voice.”

The Woman’s Hour host Jenni Murray won the award for best interview for her questioning of the Haringey council social services head Sharon Shoesmith, who was sacked over her handling of the Baby P case. Mark Kermode was named Best Specialist Contributor for his work on Radio 5 Live, while Lyse Doucet of the World Service was chosen as news journalist of the year.

The award for the best speech programme went to Nihal for his show Nihal on BBC Asian Network , a digital station that has been earmarked for closure as part of a strategic review of the BBC’s services that is currently the subject of a consultation process. Another network facing the axe is BBC 6 Music, which collected two Gold awards. Adam and Joe won the prize for Best Comedy, while the Pulp singer Jarvis Cocker, who has been working as a stand-in presenter on the station, was chosen as the winner of the Rising Star award.

The biggest winner in the music categories was Radio 1’s Zane Lowe who won both the Music Broadcaster and Best Specialist Music Programme awards. Two of his colleagues, Scott Mills and Chris Moyles, closely contested the Music Personality of the Year award. Mills was successful with Moyles, who in spite of his large breakfast show audience has suffered repeated disappointments at the Sonys, being given the Silver award. Dermot O’Leary won the Best Muusic Programme award for his show Ora Et Labora . Johnny Vaughan and Lisa Snowdon, presenters of The Capital Breakfast Show in London, won the award for Best Entertainment Programme.