A community radio station has been named the best in London at this year's Radio Academy Nations and Regions Awards. The news means that the group will be automatically entered into the Station of the Year award at the 2009 Sonys.
Life FM, based in Harlesden in the north west of the capital, was described by judges as "a community radio station which seems entirely at ease with itself because, first and foremost, it knows and understands its target audience".
The judges felt that the output they heard demonstrated that it is possible to achieve high level of local awareness without sounding parochial – citing, as the best example of this, a feature called 'Battle of the Brands', which pitted local businesses against each other for a chance to win some free advertising: the judges felt that this was an excellent mechanic for building listener loyalty, and very well executed.
The judges were also impressed by "the standard of the on air presentation, the station sound, and by the written submission that accompanied the Life FM entry".
Life FM Station Manager Gabriella Incalza Kaplanova, collecting the award on Wednesday, says of the achievement: "This is the culmination of a very special year and this award is a testament to the commitment of everybody who has worked so hard and volunteered their time and efforts.
"This award means so much to us who strive every day to put community radio on the map".
Jennifer Ogole, CEO of the station's parent company BANG Edutainment, said: "We are proud to get this award and the recognition for the hard work of everyone involved in the station.
"This award shows that there is so much talent at a community level but a lack of opportunities in the radio industries. It also highlights the positive role community radio stations can play in local communities.
"Community radio needs recognition by the government, local councils and the public as tool in promoting cohesion, supporting local services and a viable route for those who want to become professional broadcasters".
Life FM is soon to be relaunched under the name [i]BANG Radio[/i].