Hard-hitting Humphrys wins highest award for interviews

A scourge of politicians but a hero to his peers, John Humphrys collected the top award in British radio broadcasting at a ceremony in London last night.

Humphrys, a presenter of BBC Radio 4's Today programme for 16 years, won the Gold Award in the 2003 Sony Radio Academy Awards, for his "outstanding contribution to British radio".

The ceremony's organisers said Humphrys had "truly changed the face of speech radio ... for an entire generation". A spokeswoman said: "His hard-hitting, relentless interview style has become feared by UK and international politicians alike."

The award was judged by a committee that included the radio DJ Tony Blackburn and the broadcaster Kirsty Young.

Jonathan Ross was the other big winner, collecting two prizes for The Jonathan Ross Show on BBC Radio 2.

Ross was picked by the committee for the 2002 Award and also collected the Entertainment Award, ahead of competition from Stephen Fry (Classic FM), Christian O'Connell (Xfm) and Ricky Gervais (Xfm).

The radio accolades followed Ross's recent and well-received interview with Madonna on his television chat show. O'Connell picked up a separate Breakfast Music Award for his Xfm show.

The veteran broadcaster Paul Gambaccini, who has a show on Radio 2, was honoured with a Music Broadcaster Award for his "30 years in the business and unequalled knowledge of music".

Meanwhile, the advance of digital radio was acknowledged with another award category. The winner took some people at the ceremony by surprise. Saga Radio, a station that specialises in broadcasting to the over-50s, was said by the Sony organisers to have "spritely pipped the rest of the nominees to the winning post".

In its 35th year, the popular BBC Radio 4 and World Service show Just a Minute won the comedy award.

Radio 4 scooped a total of seven awards, and the organisers praised the station "that has reassessed itself as the voice of informed debate, drama and comedy of the highest quality".

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