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IWD: Spark’s all-female broadcast and a message from Emeli Sandé

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Published on 08 March 2022

(L-R) Roisin Zerhouni, Grace McDonough and Lottie Steele
(L-R) Roisin Zerhouni, Grace McDonough and Lottie Steele

The University of Sunderland’s community radio station Spark is celebrating International Women’s Day with a special all-female broadcast.

Thirteen identifying female presenters are taking to the airwaves until midnight tonight.

As well as an all-female playlist, there’s a sports show takeover presented by female students and footage and documentaries from the Rebel Women of Sunderland Project.

There are also interviews with Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson and Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson about what it’s like being a woman in politics.

These three MA Radio, Audio and Podcasting students are among the presenters taking part:

Lottie Steele, 26, from Northumberland

"I'm really excited to be involved in organising International Women's Day on Spark.

“It’s been amazing to see so many people pull together and come up with ways to highlight the brilliant things women have done. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed speaking to women around Sunderland and finding out about the events going on".

Grace McDonough, 27, from Manchester

“It's really important to us to celebrate women's achievements and to speak about female-related issues more openly.

“We're so grateful that so many people have been so generous with their time to tell us about their experiences and stories and it's so exciting that so many people have come together to make it a great day of broadcasting.

“We hope that it's a memorable day and encourages women and girls to always uplift and support one another". 

Roisin Zerhouni, 20, from Fife

"I've had a lot of fun helping to organise International Women's Day in Spark.

“This has provided me with several opportunities, and I am grateful to be a part of such a wonderful team that is highlighting such an important day while also meeting new friends".

The students are also supporting Bristol station Fem FM’s 30th anniversary.

Fem FM, which launched in 1992, was the UK’s first all-women radio station.

Today, Spark is one of 19 stations broadcasting The Story of Fem FM, which is highlighting both the incredible archive of programmes from the station and the work of new generations of female broadcasters inspired by Fem FM.

Dr Caroline Mitchell, Associate Professor Radio and Participation at the University of Sunderland, is Co-founder of Fem FM and curator of the Fem FM Archive.

She said: “Thirty years on there are so many more women now working in all roles in radio, audio and podcasting. It is important to be vigilant, though – a recent survey of Irish radio found that 80% of radio news presenters were men.

“Spark sees International Women’s Day as a way to showcase what our female presenters, reporters and producers can do. For some, it will be the first time they have broadcast solo and working alongside supportive women can make a real difference to confidence and a feeling of achievement.

“Every year I’m excited to hear Spark’s International Women’s Day coverage and this year I know it is in excellent hands.”

Meanwhile, University of Sunderland Chancellor and singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé joined the University community today in celebrating International Women’s Day.

Emeli said: “I’m so proud to join the University’s female community in celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.”