How to win Sony Gold

Ah the Gold Sony Radio Academy Award.  The Oscars of the Radio world.  They glitter.  They matter.  And anyone who says they don’t is two live guests short of a sports report…



This year I was invited to be on the Sony Radio Academy Awards Judging Committee, so I’ve had an inside view of the whole process.  I’d love to tell you everything that goes on.  But then I’d have to kill you.  So I’ll cut to the chase and say there is no quick fix.  Bribery won’t wash.  To win a Sony you really do have to have produced some awe-inspiring audio.

But there are a few things that might help turn this year’s Silver into Gold.  For starters, read the small print.  Yes I know it’s boring, and you’re busy getting that night’s programme together, and anyway your show is so brilliant it doesn’t need any explanation.  But you know what, if you’re asked to submit at least 4 clips, and you only submit 3, then your entry won’t – can’t – count.  However good it is.

Put some great audio at the top.  Most judges will be extremely conscientious and listen to everything in full.  But there might just be a rogue one who’s in a hurry, and if they’re in your category, you need to grab them within the first five minutes, or their ears might be caught by another, flirtier entry.  Don’t judge the judges.  Just give them what they want.  Quickly.

And there is one other thing.  It’s blindingly obvious, but you’d be surprised how many entries ignore it.  And us an industry of storytellers too…   It’s this.  Whisper it.  A narrative.  If your presenter has recently come back from public humiliation/serious injury/being sacked by another network – say so.   If your radio station has faced closure/been run on sellotape and string – mention it.  One year, in the category I was judging, one entry seemed to assume that everyone knew the background to their story.  So they barely alluded to it.  Their entry was much weaker than it should have been, and I had to physically stop myself from phoning to berate them.

All the hardships we as programme-makers overcome make our shows, documentaries, and radio stations, stories in their own right.  And if the judges can see what production teams or presenters have taken on and beaten to get where they are now, that’s what – along with the amazing audio and RAJARS – might just get you that Sony Gold.