BBC's Asian Network, which was saved from closure but saw budget slashed, stands on verge of major award


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The Independent Online

The Asian Network digital station, which the BBC had earmarked for closure as part of a cost-cutting exercise, has been nominated for Station of the Year at the Sony Radio Academy Awards.

The BBC planned to close the station three years ago because its low audiences meant that it was no longer cost-effective. 

The station was spared in 2011 following protests from prominent British Asians but its budget was cut in half. 

The station has been rewarded the quality of its output, and a rising listenership, with a nomination for the prized Station of the Year category at the radio industry's "Oscars". It will compete against Classic FM and Radio 5 Live at the ceremony next month.

Last year the title was taken by 6 Music which was proposed for the chop at the same time, but was similarly reprieved after an outcry.

Danny Baker, who attacked BBC management on-air after his BBC London 94.9 show was dropped, receives two nominations for his Saturday morning show on Radio 5 Live.

Former chart star Cerys Matthews - who had a string of hits with her band Catatonia - is among the contenders for music radio broadcaster of the year. 

She is up against jazz musician Jamie Cullum and Johnnie Walker - both Radio 2 - as well as 6 Music's Mark Radcliffe & Stuart Maconie and Suzy Klein who presents for Radios 3 and 4.

The best music programme nominees include Jarvis Cocker, recognsied for his 6 Music show Sunday Service, and Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood in the running for his Absolute Radio programme. Also in the category are Radio 2's Dermot O' Leary, 6 Music's Lauren Laverne and Radio 1's Zane Lowe.

Today programme veteran John Humphrys - whose tough grilling of George Entwistle prompted his early departure from the role of BBC director-general after only 54 days in the job - is shortlisted for the title of radio journalist of the year.

Controversial presenters Richard Keys and Andy Gray - who landed a talkSPORT show shortly after they were axed from TV in a sexism row - will have a chance to defend the best sports programme title they collected in 2012.

Absolute Radio breakfast presenter Christian O'Connell received a hat-trick of nominations.

Chris Evans is due to host the 2013 Awards Ceremony on May 13 at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.