Ben Cooper, Chairman of the Radio Academy has written to members explaining last week’s announcement and called an Annual General Meeting.
The event, open to all members, will take place on Wednesday 10th December on the 7th Floor, BBC New Broadcasting House in London at 6pm. Registration is required.
In the letter to members, Ben says there were two reasons for recent radical changes – financial and creative. He says both the Awards and the Festival lost money this year, partly because it was difficult to find a new sponsor for an event which still carries the “Sonys” historic title. “finding an equivalent replacement who was able to live with that fact, even in the short term, was never going to be easy,” Ben says.
The Radio 1 Controller also commented on the redundancies: “I know that many of you were sad to hear of the staff redundancies, and I hope you will offer your support to Mandy, Riza, Caroline and Nella. The Trustees did not take this decision lightly and it is no reflection on the hard work that the staff have carried out.”
Ben is hoping its members can “decide together the future of The Radio Academy” at the upcoming AGM. See the full letter here or read it in full below.
I just wanted to give you some more information and background to last week’s announcement regarding the strategic review of The Radio Academy.
There are two reasons for the announcement on Friday – financial and creative.
This week people have asked me ‘so, what’s happening with the Sonys then?‘, and therein lies a real problem for the Academy. After 30 years of the same headline sponsor, radio practitioners, the press and listeners all refer to our awards as the ‘Sonys’. So when their financial support finished, finding an equivalent replacement who was able to live with that fact, even in the short term, was never going to be easy. Certainly we were able to find sponsors attracted to our star-studded event, but not at the same level of investment. That meant this year the Academy had to find the shortfall.
Add into that the situation following the Radio Festival – I believe it was the best line-up of speakers and sessions we have ever put on, but not enough people attended. The feedback was that when you take into account the train ticket and hotel room, it was just too much money for people in what are still difficult economic circumstances. In an industry with less staff and less money in pretty much every station in the land, the Trustees feel that a new model is now needed.
Which leads to the second motivation, that of creativity. The Trustees have been keen to make sure that we review how and why we do things the way we do. Have we got the right structure of organisation for today’s industry. Do we need central London office space, or indeed, office space at all? Can we implement new ways of working in order to reduce costs?
Do we need to wear black tie and have a sit down meal in a ballroom, or could we look at the Baftas and Television Awards where there is theatre style seating with the public in attendance?
And could we organise a Festival where car manufacturers, advertising agencies, music industry execs and new digital media partners can buy day tickets to hear about what fantastic opportunities there are when working with us?
We should also consider what ambitions people have for the Radio Production Awards and the Arqiva Hall of Fame Lunch. I would hope you will attend these events in the next few weeks to show your support and then let us know your thoughts and ideas.
Finally, I know that many of you were sad to hear of the staff redundancies, and I hope you will offer your support to Mandy, Riza, Caroline and Nella. The Trustees did not take this decision lightly and it is no reflection on the hard work that the staff have carried out. The Trustees are also very aware of their duty of care for the team, making sure they have the best HR advice and we help as much as possible to assist in what they do next. I want to thank them for all their hard work, energy and passion over the years – it is greatly admired and appreciated. I wish them all the very best in their future endeavours.
The Radio Academy exists for all of us and we are keen to hear your thoughts and questions about the future of the Academy and the industry.
There will be an AGM at 6pm on Wednesday 10th December on the 7th Floor, BBC New Broadcasting House in London. To attend, please register here.
I hope to see you there so we can decide together the future of The Radio Academy, because what we now have is an opportunity to shape how we best reflect and celebrate our industry in the digital age next year and into the future.
Chairman, The Radio Academy