At last night’s Sony (soon to be called Nintendo – joke) Awards, BBC Radio 5Live won five Gold awards, including one for Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode’s film programme.
BBC Radio 1, on the other hand, won nothing, being usurped by Electric Radio Brixton – a prison radio station:
Run by the Prison Radio Association (PRA), whose patrons include Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, most of the station’s music and speech output is produced and presented by prisoners. With a tagline of “making waves behind bars”, it broadcasts 24 hours a day, but only inside the prison walls.
There’s a story here about how the lowering cost of technology is making broadcasting possible for a wider range of producers than ever before.
The Sony Awards now includes an internet radio category, which was won not by an old media news organisation but by the Bristol Catholic Diocese. The Guardian got the silver award in that category: they’re an old media organisation that has adopted both video and audio formats to produce additional content for their popular web site. But the point here is that with the low cost of entry and the low cost of hosting, you too could win a Sony award.
Radio is in many ways the most interesting medium. It’s one that can be a secondary activity, and it’s one that maintains an audience in the face of fragmentation. Radio is all about the captive audience: whether they’re in prison, in cars, or in the workplace, people often listen to the radio when they can’t do anything else.
Internet radio/podcasting, on the other hand, is not quite like this because people tend to seek it out on an individual interest basis. To win in this category, therefore, you have to identify a clear need in the audience for your content. It’s not about self-indulgence!