How to win a radio award

Here are eight ways to win a radio award, and have something for your trophy cabinet - and your CV

By James Cridland
Posted 3 January 2015, 10.37pm gmt

I've judged a pile of radio awards - the ABC Local Radio awards, the Radio Academy Awards, the Student Radio Awards, the Gillards, and many, many more.

Judging awards is hard work, and takes a lot of concentration. But sometimes, award entries just don't help themselves. Frustrating, often amateur mistakes put great broadcasters at a disadvantage.

So, based on my experience, here's eight ways you can make your entries better:

  1. Don't leave it to the last minute. The categories rarely change each year, so archive audio every week and keep it for the Arqivas, the Gillards, and the New York Internationals; as well as your compilation shows at the end of the year, the Radio Academy Awards or whatever replaces them, and your CV.
  2. Please don't use the horrible scratchy output from your logger system. Tinny and bitrate-starved audio puts you at an automatic disadvantage to everyone else. Judges are supposed to overlook that, but its hard not to. (And anyway, you can't use that for on-air use later, can you?)
  3. Don't fill your time if you don't need to. Yes, you have up to half an hour in many categories; but if you can convince the judges in twenty minutes, you get no extra points for padding.
  4. Make the audio really count. The judges' aim is to judge the audio in front of them. We can't base our award on stuff we heard once but isn't in your entry, because that wouldn't be fair to stations we don't listen to.
  5. Make your audio back up the award you are entering. It should be really clear what this compilation is a compilation of, and how it answers the rubric of the category you're entering. If it isn't, you're doing it wrong. (And trust me, many stations, big and small, have done it wrong).
  6. Take care of your additional information. Poor photocopies or handwritten notes don't help your entry.
  7. But remember it's a radio award, not a typesetting award, nor a "best use of the departmental laminator" award. The audio is what matters, over and above anything else. So take the time to mix it well, edit it nicely, and watch those levels. Lessen repetition in a compilation, if you can, particularly if there's a signature tune or a voiced jingle for the feature you're entering.
  8. But the most important rule is left to last. Enter. Because if you don't enter, you're guaranteed not to win.

Any other hints and tips? Tell us all, in the comments below.

James Cridland — James runs, and is a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. He also publishes a free daily newsletter about podcasting, Podnews, and a weekly radio trends newsletter.