When the Broadcasting Press Guild's radio committee reconvened at the end of last year to talk about who we might honour in 2015 many of the old voices came up. But there were also some new ones as well. Alongside the obligatory documentaries and comedies from Radio 4 we had suggestions of shows and presenters from Absolute Radio, BBC Radio 5 Live and LBC.
One of the new names was Serial, the hugely popular podcast examining the murder of Hae Min Lee in Baltimore in 1999. Serial, which was produced by the people behind the US public radio show This American Life, has got listeners all over the world talking about a 16-year-old murder that was mostly ignored at the time. Serial is today the most popular podcast in the world and was the first to reach five million downloads, according to Apple. Earlier this month a Maryland court even granted Adnan Syed, Lee's boyfriend who was convicted of her murder, a rare appeal hearing.
Unfortunately for Serial's producers they are not going to get a BPG Award to add to their many accolades. The BPG Awards, which are sponsored by Discovery Channel, are there to honour and reward great programming commissioned in the UK. Hopefully some of our British programme makers will be inspired by Serial's success and the BPG will be able to shortlist some podcast producers in the awards next year.
Back to this year and luckily for the BPG there was lots of great UK-produced content to choose from. The BPG radio committee consists of journalists who write about radio for national newspapers, magazines and the leading trade titles. Our panel really enjoyed Neil MacGregor's BBC Radio 4 series, Germany: Memories of a Nation. The British Museum director's documentary, which marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, told hundreds of years of German history through a range of objects.
Also nominated for Radio Programme of the Year was Kermode and Mayo's Film Review, presented by Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo. The show was praised for both the presenters' style as well as their informative opinions on everything from Boyhood to Paddington. The final programme in the shortlist is from Global Radio's LBC, which has a place among the nominations for the second year in a row. Duncan Barkes' late-night phone-in show on the national station is recognised for his "informed comment and firm but fair handling of callers".
In our Radio Broadcaster of the Year category, Jane Garvey, who presents BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, is shortlisted for Radio Broadcaster of the Year. Garvey made the switch to Woman's Hour from BBC Radio 5 Live seven years ago and has not looked back. She was cited as one of the reasons Woman's Hour was shortlisted for Radio Programme of the Year in 2014. Also shortlisted is Geoff Lloyd, the presenter of Absolute Radio's popular drive time (or as they would have it "home time") show, who the judges praised for his professionalism and easy-to-listen-to style.
The final shortlisted broadcaster is Sean Rafferty. Many of our judges are long-time listeners of his In Tune show for BBC Radio 3 but commend Rafferty for avoiding the temptation to get lazy and instead continuing to improve the format.
There were many brilliant things to listen to in 2014. If the last month and a half is anything to go by there will be lots more this year too. As ever, we'll be listening.
Radio Programme of the Year
Germany: Memories of a Nation (BBC Radio 4)
Duncan Barkes (LBC)
Kermode and Mayo's Film Review (BBC Radio 5 Live)
Radio Broadcaster of the Year
Jane Garvey, Woman's Hour (BBC Radio 4)
Sean Rafferty, In Tune (BBC Radio 3)
Geoff Lloyd, Geoff Lloyd's Hometime Show (Absolute Radio)
The winners of the 2015 BPG Awards will be announced on 13 March, ahead of the awards lunch at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
Maisie McCabe, Deputy Editor, Campaign and BPG Radio Awards Chairman