Are there any good programmes on commercial radio? I know from my experience covering commercial radio over the last four years that the answer is, undoubtedly, yes. However, the BBC's generous licence-payer funding and freedom from - dare I say it - the pressure of advertisers means the commercial sector often falls up just short.
When I was appointed chair of the radio nominations committee of the Broadcasting Press Guild I was given a brief to try and find commercial programmes and presenters worthy of recognition. But although Absolute Radio's Frank Skinner and LBC 97.3's Nick Ferrari made it into our longlists, they were pipped to places on the shortlist by BBC offerings.
The BPG is made up from journalists who write about TV and radio. As it is their job to have an opinion, my colleagues on the committee only decided on winners after a spirited debate. We settled on three nominees for radio broadcaster of the year and four for best radio programme. The commercial radio's 20-year dry spell is not going to end in 2013.
Jarvis Cocker, the Pulp frontman, has been shortlisted for radio broadcaster of the year in recognition of his 'Sunday Service' show on 6Music and 'Wireless Nights' on Radio 4. Charlotte Green, the brilliant newsreader who left Radio 4 last month, is in the running for 25 years at the BBC (and that laugh). Finally, Martha Kearney, another amazing broadcaster, is the third nominee for being consistently strong as presenter of 'World at One'.
Robin Brooks' Radio 4 dramatisation of James Joyce's 'Ulysses' was shortlisted for best radio programme for being "very well done" and for Andrew Scott's compelling performance as Stephen Dedalus. In other good news for Radio 4, its airline-based sitcom 'Cabin Pressure' was nominated for being a real "gem" and consistently funny.
Although no classic songs-and-chat shows were shortlisted, 'Soul Music', the Radio 4 documentary about the emotional impact of music, got a nod for telling the stories of everything from the Hallelujah Chorus to Dire Straits' 'Brothers in Arms'. Meanwhile, Radio 3's 'Words and Music' also made the cut for being an "overlooked jewel in the BBC's crown".
My fellow judges included Broadband TV News editor (and Cambridge 105 FM drivetime presenter) Julian Clover; the Oldie Magazine wireless critic and The Times contributor Valerie Gove; Jane Anderson, radio editor of the Radio Times; freelance journalist Sue Gaisford; Susan Jefferies and Nigel Andrew of the Daily Mail; and John Plunkett of The Guardian.
After what probably seemed like endless rounds of votes to my fellow judges the winners will be announced at the BPG Awards on Thursday 14 March. We'll be tweeting the results in real time, and they will be available on the BPG website. Good luck to everyone. And good luck to the commercial sector over the next 12 months. I want to see some of you shortlisted in 2014.
BPG Awards 2013 Radio Nominations
Best Radio Programme:
Bloomsday Ulysses, BBC Radio 4
Cabin Pressure, BBC Radio 4
Soul Music, BBC Radio 4
Words and Music, BBC Radio 3
Radio Presenter of the Year:
Jarvis Cocker, Sunday Service, BBC Radio 4 & Wireless Nights, BBC Radio 4
Charlotte Green, Newsreader, BBC Radio 4
Martha Kearney, The World at One, BBC Radio 4
The BPG awards take place on Thursday 14th March 2013 and are sponsored by Discovery Channel which champions intelligent entertainment. Discovery Networks UK has 12 channel brands in the UK covering factual, lifestyle and entertainment programming.
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