Category Archives: SRA

The big winner at the Student Radio Awards 2011

This year was the 7th Student Radio Awards I’ve been to (and yes, that does mean that I saw Greg James win Best Male in 2005). It was also one of the most enjoyable I’ve been to.

It’s on of the very few years where one or two stations hasn’t dominated the proceedings, with no one station taking home more than two gold awards and nineteen taking a gold, silver of bronze award. It’s always nice to have a variety of winning stations on the night.

After URN won Best Station for the second time in a row (a first), I won’t be surprised if there’s mutterings about why the same stations win – I could go into that but Andy Vale has covered that brilliantly on a guest post at The Pips. It’s definitely worth reading.

I’d also suggest a judges 1st time perspective of the night by Peter Donaldson of Absolute, and James Stodd’s pre-awards post about how to take advantage of being on student radio. As James says, student radio provides the opportunity to “try and fail” – you won’t get that again.

Obviously, the plaudits will go to URN for taking Best Station two years running: and rightly so. But personally speaking, I believe they were massively upstaged.

I’m talking about KCL Radio winning Best Live Event. For me it was the highlight of the evening.

Ideally I’d hope it ends any suggestion of judges bias but I know better than to say that: if only because the ~100% turnover every three years of students makes it unlikely. But it certainly proves that new stations have a level playing field at which they can can compete.

I need to go back to my own twelve months on the SRA executive in 2008-9. I was the Development Officer – not the most glamorous of roles but arguably the position that has most interaction with the wider radio industry in terms of policy making and structural proceedings (the others mainly deal with running the Association and organising the awards and conference – Development is less involved in that side of the SRA). There’s also the responsibility of answering the many emails asking for help – regardless of their origin (which led to a strange request from a French-Canadian asking whether I know anything about student radio stations and support groups from around the world… but I digress).

One of the last I received was from Fran Allfrey at Kings College London. They had no radio station and she wanted to set one up.

This type of email was fairly typcial – the bread and butter of my time being spent answering such emails. Fran’s enthuasism was far more obvious though, which led to a meeting in June 2009.

I thought it would take around two hours. 4 and a half hours in the KCL SU cafe later and basically a dump of everything student radio and SRA based in my brain led to a second meeting with the SU staff. At times it felt like the Spanish Inquisition with some particularly trick questions to answer in a way that would help get a station up and running but naturally it was far too easy for me to explain why student radio is awesome and that every uni should have a station to call it’s own.

My involvement ended there but I left the SRA knowing that I had made a difference to many stations and having possibly had a hand in getting a new one started…

From there launched a podcasting society to what is now KCL Radio, thanks to a £19,000 grant according to last year’s awards programme (I never thought I would reference one…).

So to walk away with a Gold SRA award is nothing short of astounding brilliance – especially for a station that is not even three years old and for a first ever outside broadcast. (the whole broadcast, along with the demo is online here).

So congratulations to KCL Radio – a well deserving winner.

Developing Student Radio: it's my new job!

Once again, another long break from the blogosphere but it’s been a busy couple of months.

On top of having my dissertation to complete (now safely submitted), I’ve also been looking to the future: especially as the end of uni is looming.

I decided on standing for a position on the Student Radio Association Executive team at last year’s conference but had to decide which position…. well that was rather obvious for me.

So I went to Bath, having no choice but to miss all of the conference talks on both days thanks to an early Easter and uni being different and having the final week of term when most unis decided to have Easter.  Nevertheless, I was duly elected as the Development Officer.

To say I’m pleased is a masterpiece of understatement.  My role will be to support new stations to start and existing stations to maintain their quality of output.  At a basic level I have to keep an eye on the licenses for radio broadcasting: specifically OFCOM, PPL and the MCPS-PRS alliance, making sure I understand the latest versions of the licenses and which licenses student stations need to have.  Helping new stations start is also one of my main jobs.

It’s a voluntary position and is unpaid, so I will need to find paid work of some kind, hopefully in the radio industry if I get my way.

However the position has far more to it than the above.  The as yet unpublished Student Radio Survival Guide is nearly complete and I’ll be having a look at it before it’s sent out to student stations. 

I’ve also got a few ideas to play with, one of which I suggested over a year ago but discussion has really taken off in recent weeks… I’ll talk about it in more detail if the exec decides to trial the service.

I believe that student radio has more going for it than it has ever had: try finding a commercial station that has made better use of Web 2.0 than any in the student community.  Facebook is a good place to start, but even older Web 2.0 websites like Flickr have been more widely used than the commercial industry.

So if you do anything tomorrow, I suggest you try finding your local student station and give them a listen: chances are you might find something rather special.