Published on 29 September 2021
The University of Sunderland’s student station Spark has been shortlisted in the annual national Community Radio Awards.
The shortlist has been whittled down from more than 430 entries from stations from every corner of the UK.
Spark has picked up nominations in the Specialist Music and Speech and Journalism of the year categories for their work on ‘Dance Revolution’ with Scott McGerty and ‘Down on the Farm’ by Megan Hayward.
Megan, who has just completed a Radio Audio and Podcasting MA, said: “Exploring the topic of mental health within the agricultural industry has long been a programme I've wanted to produce.
“As a farmer’s daughter, the statistic that more than one farmer a week in the UK takes their own life, is quite frankly terrifying.
“I'm incredibly proud to have been shortlisted for this category and that the documentary has been a success, hopefully raising more awareness of the subject and getting more farmers talking.”
Scott, Presenter and Executive Producer with Spark, said: "I'm over the moon to be nominated for this award as it's a great nod to my hardworking Dance Revolution team.
“Covid made everything more challenging for us and forced us to make difficult decisions about what we did with the show during lockdown. Our options were to go hard or go home. We went hard.
“Our audience has been so loyal to the show by listening and engaging during their changing lockdown routines, so we wanted to give back by remaining ambitious and consistent in our output."
Spark – run largely by volunteers, many of which study at the University – broadcasts across Sunderland on 107FM and around the world online. It is on air 24 hours a day, seven days a week after launching back in 2009.
Last week, BBC Radio 1 presenter and Sunderland graduate Jordan North cut the ribbon to the new Spark Studio 5 at the David Puttnam Media Centre on Sir Tom Cowie Campus, St Peter’s.
Opening the redesigned studio, Jordan, a former Spark presenter, said: “If this studio was here when I was a student, I would never have left.”
Richard Berry, Senior Lecturer in Radio at the University of Sunderland, recently shortlisted as University of the Year, in this year’s THE – Times Higher Education – annual awards, said: “It’s always wonderful news when programmes or presenters are nominated for an award as it’s recognition for all the hard work they put in.
“I’m really pleased to see Megan’s programme nominated here as it deals with such an important topic but in a sensitive way and is a great example of the skills students can develop on our MA Radio, Audio and Podcasting course.
“Scott is now our longest standing presenter and works hard at making his show as good as it can be, so to have another award nomination is evidence that it all pays off.”
Community Radio Awards chair Martin Steers said: “The breadth and depth of entries never ceases to amaze, and yet again our judging panel from across the industry has had some tough choices to make.
“After a difficult year, our sector has been ever more important in its communities and giving teams a well-deserved opportunity to celebrate is key.”
The winners will be revealed at an in-person ceremony next month at the Coventry Transport Museum. Tickets are available now.