It’s awards season or the Spring/Summer season of award competitions and our radio work is earning its tag as award-winning with a Celtic Media Torc award for our series Winning Women on Irish women competing at London 2012 and we’ve just had the good news that our second series with Newstalk in 2012 ‘Grassroots‘ is a finalist in the prestigious New York Radio Festival. Last year we won Gold in New York for our RTE Radio 1 history series ‘Death of an Empire’ and this year ‘Grassroots’ a BAI Sound & Vision funded series for Newstalk is a finalist in the social issues category. Grassroots is a short form documentary series where reporters Robert Hope and Lisa Essuman travelled the country looking for stories at community level of change and positive engagement. We found some beautiful stories and three of them were entered into the festival from the overall series and these were stories of young people in Limerick, Dublin and Galway finding their voice, confidence and path through fantastic community action projects like Sing Out with Strings in Limerick or Headstrong in Galway.
We’re very honoured to have had the opportunity to have connected with these people and stories and proud that we’ve been able to bring them to an international stage at the global radio festival in New York where we are competing with the best radio in the world from BBC, ABC in Australia and CBS in Canada.
At the Celtic Media Festival Lisa Essuman represented Athena Media and picked up the very heavy and very beautiful Torc award for Winning Women which was a short form series on Newstalk across the Olympics Games London 2012 and the winning entry was our final documentary, a one hour piece, which told the story of the competitors - like Katie Taylor and Aileen Morrison along with their inspiring chef de mission Sonia O Sullivan.
Both our winning series in these two international competitions were funded and supported by the BAI Sound & Vision Scheme and without it we would not have been able to tell their stories or bring Irish voices and talent to this international stage. The Sound & Vision Fund takes 7% of the TV license fee and runs a content fund which both public and commercial broadcasters can use. Effectively much of our documentary-making for people like Newstalk and Setanta Ireland as well as RTE itself is funded, and made possible, by the Sound & Vision Fund. We’re currently producing The Media Show for RTE Radio 1 (which is directly funded by RTE as an independent production) and the Minister Pat Rabbitte recently told the programme that he sees the fund as a vehicle which could increase in funding given its impact in getting public service genre content into the public space.
In our current projects for both radio and television we’re lucky enough to have both radio and television funding for key works including Get Off the Couch - our six part TV series for Setanta Ireland and Citizens: Lockout 1913 for RTE Radio 1. Its extremely tough to make a living as an independent documentary-maker in a small country like Ireland and getting recognition at international awards like the Celtics and New York enables us to continue to work in this field and to tell the stories of change, transformation and positive engagement which inspires us and which we hope inspires you.