Judges approval for Radio Suffolk

By Katy EdwardsLOCAL radio does not get any better than in Suffolk – at least, that was the opinion of the judges at a prestigious national awards ceremony.

By Katy Edwards

LOCAL radio does not get any better than in Suffolk – at least, that was the opinion of the judges at a prestigious national awards ceremony.

BBC Radio Suffolk picked up the Station of the Year prize at the Frank Gillard awards, named after the late war correspondent who established BBC local radio.

The station also collected a gold award for Best Interactive programme for Rachel Sloane in the Afternoon and a silver award for the Suffolk Action team for their work with the Hollies project at St Clement's Hospital in Ipswich.

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The success follows that of BBC Radio Suffolk breakfast presenter Mark Murphy, who won a Gold Sony award earlier this year.

It would seem that the station, based in Ipswich, is doing something right.

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It recorded the biggest growth in audience figures over the past 12 months of any local radio station. Judges at the Gillard awards praised the way BBC Radio Suffolk had managed to fend off competition from larger stations with better resources.

BBC Radio Suffolk's managing editor, Gerald Main, who came to the station 13 months ago with a career history of more than 20 years in regional radio, said success was not just about audience figures.

"It's more about connecting with your audience, providing programmes that people want to listen to and being distinctive," he added.

"We aren't a local radio that plays wall-to-wall music. We are largely speech-based and we try to talk about things that are of interest to Suffolk, whether it is a local issue to do with Ipswich Town football club, for example, or a national issue from a local perspective.

"We try to have fun with it and not take ourselves too seriously."

Mr Main added local radio had an important role to play in maintaining a sense of community. "BBC local radio, in many ways, is the cement that pulls the community together, in the same way that local papers do," he said.

"There is a great sense of identity in Suffolk. People here are very proud of their county and rightly so – it is a beautiful, glorious place to live. We try to celebrate all those things."

Mr Main said he was naturally delighted with the result of the awards ceremony, especially given it was the first time BBC Radio Suffolk had won station of the year in any industry awards.

He added: "We have an immensely talented and creative team here. I've tried to give them permission to give their ideas a go.

"Our aim is to continue to be distinctive and innovative – some things will work and some won't. We should be giving them a few surprises over the coming months."


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