By Anita Walsh
The Empire State building shone brightly over the 2014 New York Festival awards honouring the World’s Best Radio Programmes. Strong and encouraging themes emerged as radio professionals from all around the world gathered to celebrate their craft. Gold and Silver recipients from Sweden, Canada, Australia, USA, India and, of course, Ireland spoke about not just their winning productions, but a love for radio, the spoken word and soundscapes that couldn’t fail to inspire. Ben Manilla, a New York Festival winner every year since 1987, summed up the audio passion nicely observing that “when you see something it goes to your brain, but when you hear it, it goes to your heart.”
Many awards on the night were delivered to hard hitting documentaries with topics including domestic violence, rape, war, terrorism and more. Several award recipients, humble in acceptance, noted that their counterparts in Syria, Egypt and beyond are jailed and worse for doing a job that many take for granted. The call to celebrate free speech and the quality of journalism on display was a joy to see, along with the heartwarming speeches illustrating that radio can, and has, made a difference in people’s lives, at home and abroad.
A final common ground among winners on the night was a call to action to keep radio strong and to keep independent radio flowing. Sentiments echoed by independent production company, Athena Media, it is wonderful to see such powerful radio produced worldwide, and encouraging to see a passion to continue.
Congratulations to all at Athena Media on winning four awards on the night: Gold for Herosongs, the history meets song series in the best educational programming category; Gold for Citizens: Lockout 1913-2013, the landmark history series in best history programming; Silver for science series Science is Everywhere in best science and technology programming, and Finalist award for James Joyce: The Dead, an illustrated reading by Barry McGovern, in the best narration craft category.. Well done to Helen, Lisa, Amy and the Athena Media team, Herosongs presenter Therese McIntyre, Science is Everywhere presenter Dr Lara Dungan, and music composers Michael Gallen and Rob Hope for all of the excellent work on these projects.