News of significant changes at the Radio Academy, revealed Friday afternoon via RadioToday and the Academy’s own newsletter, has sparked a debate big enough to start trending on Twitter.
Hundreds of people, from ex-employees of the organisation to former Trustees, have made reference to the end of the Radio Academy Awards and Radio Festival. The two events will be merged into a new single event in London, but with all four staff of the Academy being made redundant, people are asking who will organise it. See a number of tweets at the end of this article.
Things have been changing for a while at the Academy. For the last few years they’ve struggled to find a long-term CEO, Sony has pulled out as Sponsor of the Awards, the weekly podcast has all-but been forgotton about with just David Lloyd’s Radio Memories as content, and Chris Evans stepped down as host of the Awards ceremony.
The Academy is made up of 13 Trustees, who all made the unanimous decision to cut the two landmark events and sack the staff. The Trustees include Global’s Ashley Tabor, Bauer’s Tony Moorey, UTV’s Jimmy Buckland, Ben Cooper from Radio 1 and other established radio professionals.
Just a few weeks ago new interim CEO Gloria Abramoff spoke to RadioToday about her exciting plans for the Radio Festival and the future of the Academy. “There are some amazing things that the Academy does and I find it irritating that people think it’s an old boys network. I really don’t believe that to be the case,” Gloria says. It has not been revealed about Gloria’s position in the Academy, and how long she will continue as CEO.
The main question asked on Twitter is Why? People noting the lack of information being made available to members and patrons. The Academy offer the answer “following a strategic review” which generally means something isn’t quite right and needs to be fixed. Looking at the public accounts of the Academy for the last few years suggests the answer is money.
The Awards cost £427k to produce in 2012 – but with Sony as headline sponsor most of that would have been covered, along with income from submissions and entry fees. It generated an income of £517k so a healthy profit of £90,000. The Radio Festival cost £189k and generated £244k. Membership fees brought in £208k. The accounts for 2014 are not public yet, so we can only assume without Sony, the Awards wouldn’t have been as lucrative.
A financial report from 2012 reads “At the year end, the charity was able to increase its reserves significantly, based on strong profits covenanted from the trading company and overheads maintained at or below budgeted figures. The Radio Academy finished 2012 with a very strong financial position”.
Lots of people are assuming this is the end of the Academy – but it is quite the opposite. Without this drastic action maybe the end would have been in sight, but with a new focus, and hopefully one which includes openness, things can start to change.
Let’s hope the outcome of this isn’t a Festival and Awards just mixed into one event. There has been a good amount of evolution at the Academy, but we now need a revolution. I tweeted a couple of years ago whilst at one of Global’s Jingle Bell Balls, suggesting it would work great as a cross-industry event. Look at the National Television Awards – the Brits – and more. The television and music industry have a national televised event each year with big names and big awards creating massive amounts of publicity. In other countries they have massive public events celebrating radio. Let’s do the same here. Let’s celebrate radio, and let the new look Radio Academy be at the heart of it.
Catching up on @radioacademy developments, so disappointing to see a lack of transparency about what's going on. Even trustees are unsure.
— Andy Buckingham (@andybee) November 7, 2014
Heartbroken to hear about the closing of the @radioacademy office. I learnt so much in the 2.5 years I worked there.. A great loss to radio
— Heather Davies (@heatherrhian) November 7, 2014
The @radioacademy has shaped the lives/careers of so many via events/awards. As an industry we must unite to ensure the legacy isn't lost
— Paul Sylvester (@paulsylvester75) November 7, 2014
I loved working for both @radioacademy & the Sony awards. Think both are important for UK radio. So hope there's a good plan…
— Helen Grimes (@helengrimes) November 7, 2014
Profoundly saddened by the news from the @radioacademy (of which I was once a trustee) today. Terrible for its staff and the whole industry.
— Daniel Owen (@danieljowen) November 8, 2014
Re the scrapping of the Radio Academy Awards.. anyone in radio know more on the story that it's because a certain bigwig rejected a sponsor?
— Jon Holmes (@jonholmes1) November 7, 2014
So, bad day to have not updated my email address with the Radio Academy. Thoughts with the staff who’ve been made redundant.
— Lee Macaulay (@lmcly) November 7, 2014
— Jim Hawkins (@jimallthetime) November 7, 2014