Stephen Nolan has been recognised for an interview he conducted with a survivor of the Paris terror attacks.
Stephen won the Nick Clarke Award for the best broadcast interview of the year for his interview with a British man caught up in the attacks on the Bataclan music venue. It is the second time Stephen Nolan has won the Nick Clarke Award, having previously been awarded the prestigious accolade in 2014 for a BBC Northern Ireland interview with Pastor James McConnell.
Stephen spoke to Michael O’Connor on his BBC Radio 5 live show hours after the terrorist atrocity had taken place in November 2015.
Michael described the horror of what had just happened, recalling how he lay on top of his girlfriend to protect her from the gunmen.
The interview was unanimously chosen by judges as the winner of the industry honour, which was announced at the Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival.
The award is open to the whole UK broadcasting industry and was created in honour of the late BBC Radio 4 broadcaster Nick Clarke, who presented The World At One among other programmes on the station.
The judges said that Stephen’s interview with Michael O’Connor was “one of those rare interviews that draws the listener completely into the world the words are creating – in this case, a world of almost unimaginable fear and bravery. Stephen showed great skill as well as empathy and humanity in drawing out Michael O’Connor’s chilling story. A compelling listen.”
Stephen’s producer on the night was Philo Holland and Phil Wells is series Editor.
Stephen was not in Cheltenham to receive the award but heard the news as he was en route to America to cover the US Election for BBC Radio 5 live. He sent the following message: “I cannot tell you how much this award means to me. Actually I can – it is such wonderful news that I’ve literally just hugged the air hostess on the plane which I’m on now. You see, it has always been my dream to work in the BBC. As a young man, I cried so hard it hurt when the BBC turned me down for a traffic and travel job, it hurt so much because I wanted to be in the same organisation as broadcasting giants like Nick. I have vivid memories of listening to Nick Clarke and being in awe of his effortless command of broadcasting . I want to tell Nick’s family … [that] I am deeply humbled to be associated with this award.”
BBC Radio 5 live Controller Jonathan Wall congratulated Stephen, commenting: “It was a skilful and empathetic interview. Stephen is a master of his trade, and the interviewee Michael was remarkably brave and open. I’m also proud at the way such a sensitive interview was handled off-air by Stephen’s production team.”
Stephen was on a shortlist of seven broadcasters, including Andrew Marr, Shelagh Fogarty, Kirsty Wark, Victoria Derbyshire, Lyse Doucet and William Crawley.
Stephen Nolan broadcasts on BBC Radio 5 live from 10pm to 1am Fri, Sat and Sun. He also hosts the daily The Nolan show on BBC Radio Ulster from 9am-10.30am Mon- Fri and The BBC One Northern Ireland series Nolan Live.