Global’s Group Head of News and Managing Editor of LBC, James Rea, has been honoured with the IRN Gold Award for his outstanding contribution to commercial radio.
James has spent more than 20 years in the industry having started his career on Teesside at the age of 16. He was a news editor three years later and went on to lead the Guardian’s radio news operations, setting up newsrooms across the country. He’s been at Global for the last five years after being poached from GMG Radio where he ran the news operation.
Presenting the award, LBC presenter Nick Ferrari said: “Under his stewardship, the station doesn’t just follow the news agenda. Headline after headline is made in the LBC studios, dominating the press and news channels. It’s talked about in Parliament. James has even added to the scandal of MPs’ second jobs, putting politicians like Nick Clegg, Boris Johnson, Sadiq Khan, Alex Salmond and now Nigel Farage on the LBC presenter line-up.
“Backed up by Global’s newsrooms across the country, James has made LBC a force to be reckoned with.”
talkRADIO’s ‘US Election Special’ won the highly competitive Best News Special or Feature prize with judges describing it as a ‘fast-paced, informative and gripping’ take on the event which ‘captured the excitement and drama of the night.’
Radio City 2 and Radio City Talk were awarded ‘Best Interview’ for their ‘engaging and emotive’ broadcast about Steve Kelly, a Hillsborough survivor whose brother died in the 1989 disaster. The interview documented his daily struggle to come to terms with the tragedy and the monotony of travelling to and from the inquests in Warrington every day for two years.
The IRN Awards were held at the brand new Sky Cinema in the flagship Sky Central building at the company’s HQ in west London. The event was hosted by Sky News Sunrise presenter Sarah-Jane Mee in front of an audience of 200.
Global’s Newsroom Wales was named ‘News Team of the Year’ with a TSA of over 1 million for an impressive third time in four years. The judging panel said the team ‘showcased investigative journalism, responsible and well-scripted reporting, creativity and a large dose of fun.’ There was also a familiar winner in the News Team with a TSA of under 1 million category as Radio Aire made it three victories in four years too. The Leeds-based team was praised for its ‘superb handling of a breaking news story’ all backed up with ‘in-depth coverage online.’
There was double success for Radio Clyde in Glasgow. The station’s reporting of the Scottish Cup Final, and its unsavoury aftermath, earned it the prize for ‘Best Sports Coverage.’ According to the the judges the team brought ‘brilliant journalistic rigour to a fast developing story’ and the coverage was ‘packed with pace and drama.’ Linda Sinclair was named ‘Reporter of the Year’ in a hotly contested category. Sinclair was described as a ‘fine all-round reporter with an authoritative but accessible style’ and someone who was ‘serious when necessary but not afraid to be light-hearted.’
Patrick Hildred from the University of Sheffield won the Student Journalist of the Year award for producing what the judges called ‘a professional documentary’ about the tensions of the Brexit debate in Boston, the most Eurosceptic town in UK. They said it was a ‘stunning piece of work’ which was ‘arresting, informative and balanced.’
Virgin Radio and talkSPORT’s Robyn Schonhofer was the ‘Newsreader of the Year’ in the ‘over 1m TSA’ category. Her delivery is ‘natural, clear and very relatable,’ with the judges impressed by her ‘variation in tone and style.’ In the ‘under 1m TSA’ category, Chris Hubbard from BOB fm Hertfordshire was the winner and commended for delivering creative and ambitious bulletins and knowing how to connect with his listeners.
The winner of the ‘Newcomer of the Year’ trophy was Rosie Wright from Premier Christian Radio whose ‘clear-eyed reporting, creative presentation and mature handling of the most challenging situations’ made her stand out. She reported on immigration from the Calais Jungle and judges pinpointed her energy, enthusiasm and the ability to bring out the best in people.
Global Radio’s Entertainment Team reclaimed the showbiz award for its coverage of the death of George Michael. It was described as ‘sensitive and emotive’ with the reporter using ‘personal anecdotes and memories to give a unique perspective of a huge story which was dominating the headlines.’
Commenting on the awards, IRN and Sky News Radio Editor Dave Terris said: “It’s getting harder to win an award because the ambition and quality of the entries continues to excel. Although the winners are rightly commended for the exceptional standard of their work, it’s important to recognise the breadth of talent, the desire to be distinct and the journalistic rigour that exists in our industry. At a time when competition for audiences on all platforms is fierce, it is encouraging to hear that commercial radio news continues to deliver an outstanding, trusted service to its millions of listeners.”
IRN Managing Director, Tim Molloy said: “Congratulations to all the winners who stood out amongst an already high standard of entries this year. Recent research from Ofcom has shown how important local news is to listeners and the IRN Awards aims to encourage and recognise the very best of radio journalism.”