The University of Sunderland’s community radio station Spark has won Gold in the Best Station category at this year’s Student Radio Awards in London.
Held annually since 1995, the awards serve both to celebrate the diversity of the content and talent in student radio and audio community, and to help launch the next generation of radio talent into the radio industry.
Judged by nearly 200 industry appointed judges, hundreds of student entries, spanning over a dozen categories, are whittled down to Bronze, Silver and Gold winners.
The win comes as Spark celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Richard Berry, Senior Lecturer in Radio at the University of Sunderland and manager of Spark, said: “The station win comes 25 years since my colleague Caroline Mitchell launched a station called Radio Utopia.
“We changed the name up in 1998 and became Utopia FM, which was our name until Spark launched in 2009.
“The station award is culmination of all the hard working, creative, and ambitious students that have worked on the station – many of whom were at the ceremony with their industry employers.
“This celebrates their contribution but also that of the University, colleagues, and former colleagues who are sadly no longer with us.”
The winning didn’t stop there, as eight talented Sparkies also picked up awards at the ceremony held at Indigo, The O2, on Wednesday evening (November 16):
- Chrissy Cameron (Media Production) – Gold, Best Presenter (prize includes presenting on BBC Radio 1 over Christmas) and a Bronze Equality, Diversity and Inclusion award for his documentary It’s Okay to Be Ace, which explores what it means to be asexual
- Grace Daily (Screen Performance) – Gold, Best Newcomer
- Bobbi Bunker (Media Production) – Silver, Best Newcomer
- Grace McDonough, Roisin Zerhouni and Lottie Steele (GRL) (MA Radio graduates) – Silver, Best Speech Programming
- Tyler Smith (Journalism graduate, now graduate intern at the University’s mediaHUB) – Bronze, Best Specialist Music Programming
- Lewis Smith (Community Volunteer) – Bronze, Best Presenter
- Spark’s coverage of the Sunderland City Runs in May – Silver, Best Event Programming
Dr Caroline Mitchell, Professor of Radio and Participation at the University of Sunderland, said “I’m thrilled for everyone involved in Spark – the awards are a testament to years of developing the station as a space for training, learning and creativity.
“Radio’s enduring popularity is down to how it is able to connect with people and communities and Spark volunteers do this in spades, on a daily basis.
“The industry has changed enormously since Utopia’s early days; Spark is effective because it remains true to the participatory spirit of community and student radio and it is always at the cutting edge of using innovative music and speech programming, visualization and podcasting to keep its young audience involved in radio.”
Spark has also received four nominations at this year’s Community Radio Awards, which will take place tomorrow (November 19) at Kings House in Bedford.