Desperately Seeking Women in Radio

Jenni Murray accepts her Gold Award

An interesting night last night at the Sonys…

Huge congratulations to legendary Jenni Murray on her Gold Award, long overdue – and to Annie Nightingale for her Special Award, recognising 40 amazing years in radio.  Two standout exceptions as The Guardian noted, on a very male night…

There’s no doubting the genius of Danny Baker and Frank Skinner, who both vied for best speech of the night, and there were worthy Sony winners in Simon Mayo, Zane Lowe, Nicky Campbell, Jeremy Vine and many more.  But each year I sit over my coffee, and wonder why more women aren’t up there collecting Gold.

Annie Nightingale with her Special Award

Recent figures from Skillset have shown that women are leaving the creative industries.  Independent TV, animation and interactive content have seen the biggest exodus, but radio is not exempt.  Women over 35 and those with children are most likely to leave, meaning that radio is losing many amazing women far too early.  For every Jenni, Annie, and Gold winner Victoria Derbyshire, there are a host of other women who took their talents – not to mention their contacts books, listener insight and years of training – elsewhere.

We need to find out what the barriers to success are.  A radio insider was bemoaning  recently how hard it is to get women on platforms at public events.  Is it a lack of confidence?  Dearth of role models?  Or are women just too busy?  Either way, we’re becoming invisible.

So enough of the sitting and wondering over my coffee as the Sony credits roll.  In response to popular demand, I’m setting up a new Women in Radio group.  Not one where tired women sit about grumbling about childcare and chauvinism – tempting though that might be – but a really dynamic one, which motivates and inspires women to go for that big job, take risks creatively, push to be given opportunities, and to take charge of their own careers and the industry.   Then maybe in 10 years time the esteemed Sony judges won’t have enough Gold Awards for us all.

If anyone’s interested in getting involved, please get in touch.

5 thoughts on “Desperately Seeking Women in Radio

  1. Hi Marie,
    I’m with you. I have been working on the fringes of my beloved radio for years, irst as a producer and now as a contributor. After 11 years in Ireland, where I though radio far too male dominated, I have come back to the UK to find not many more women on air here than when I left. I’d love to see that change – preferably including me, but definitely with my more talented female friends.
    Why are so many shows, especially on commercial radio, dominated and hosted by men, with female co hosts taking very much second seat? I can see the dynamic between the men and women who do this can work very well, I just don’t see why the male host is always the lead?
    If I can help with anything to do with a Women in Radio group, particularly with reference to how we can use Twitter, Facebook and other social media to connect, I would love to be involved.

  2. Hi Maria, very interested in your post. I work as radio producer in Ireland and have this exact problem. I’m a founding member of a relatively new group called Women On Air ( set up by journalist Margaret Ward in response to this problem) and judging by the feedback we’ve had there is definitely a need out there! I wrote about it here

    I’ll be really very interested in seeing how you get on with your group – keep us posted!

  3. Hi Maria, great initiative!
    I am a member of Women on Air in Ireland and have found it a brilliant resource to get in contact with producers who are supportive of the initiative. I’m primarily a print journalist but thanks to Women on Air I’ve got work contributing to radio and TV here. I hope your group is as successful!

    • Thanks so much everyone for all your interest in this Women in Radio group. I’ve had a brilliant response so far – it really feels as though this is long overdue… Things are moving on apace, but I really want to do this properly, so am talking to lots of people to map out the way ahead. Will keep you all posted and be in touch very soon with more news I’m sure!

  4. Pingback: Sound Women – new group for women in radio « Talking Media

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