GMG Radio's Group Programme Director John Simons was last night recognised for his huge contribution to the radio industry with a prestigious Sony Radio Academy Gold Award for Programmer of the Year.
The award, a new category at this year's ceremony, is recognition for his incredible success in building GMG Radio's portfolio of Real Radio, JAZZFM and Smooth FM stations across the country.
John Simons said: 'I feel very honoured to have received this award but owe a huge thanks to the fantastic team of programmers at our stations and to GMG and its chief exec John Myers for allowing us the creative freedom to make great programming.'
GMG Radio Chief Executive John Myers said: 'I have always said we have the best people in radio within GMG and this is a wonderful award that recognises his immense talent. We are all very proud of what he has achieved.'
Before presenting John with his award, the Radio Academy's John Bradford told the 1300 guests at last night's ceremony: "The judges were particularly impressed by John Simon's creation of a truly distinctive style of commercial radio, his ability to attract personality led broadcasters, to inspire them and to direct their work in an innovative and imaginative way. In other words to build demonstrable success within an unconventional format."
John Simons began his career in radio as a presenter 25 years ago and is now recognised as one of the leading experts in regional programming having previously launched the hugely successful Century brand of stations onto the airwaves. In 1997 he became Programme Director of national station Talk Radio, delivering a record 2.8 million listeners, which still has not been topped. He then moved onto London's LBC and BBC Radio 2 before joining GMG Radio in 2000.
The Real Radio brand of stations, which now broadcast in Wales, Scotland and Yorkshire, has seen incredible success. Real Radio in Wales became the most successful regional radio station launch in history, while the brand has become the most listened to radio station in Scotland in just two years. In London JAZZFM is enjoying new growth and listener loyalty under his guidance. The group's Real Radio station in Yorkshire was recognised for with a Sony Bronze Award for its coverage of the Huddersfield House fire, which killed eight members of the same family.
A record 1,400 entries were submitted for this year's awards, widely dubbed as the Oscars of the radio industry.