2021 at The Radio Academy – what we’ve delivered this year


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At the Radio Academy AGM on 9 December, Helen Thomas (Chair of The Radio Academy) and Sam Bailey (Managing Director) took a look back at the Academy's activities in 2021. Here's a summary of what they outlined in that meeting. Members of the Radio Academy can watch the AGM back now.

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Regular online events

During 2021, The Radio Academy has held 16 online events, which have received more than 1000 views.  These have included 12 events exclusively for Radio Academy Members (under the Radio Academy Presents… banner or March’s Women in Radio & Audio season), plus three events in the Diversity & Inclusion Series, which is available to members and non-members alike.

  • 2 Feb 2021 - Disability in Audio and Radio
  • 24 Feb 2021 - Women in Leadership
  • 3 Mar 2021 - The Presenter-Producer Relationship
  • 10 Mar 2021 - Women in Podcasting
  • 17 Mar 2021 - New Audio Platforms
  • 24 Mar 2021 - International Women
  • 31 Mar 2021 - Women in News & Sport
  • 26 Apr 2021 - Meet The Boomers
  • 11 May 2021 - LGBT+ in Radio and Audio
  • 30 Jun 2021 - One Year of Times Radio
  • 3 Aug 2021 - Remembering Jono
  • 13 Sep 2021 - Bringing Sport to Life
  • 22 Sep 2021 - Magic Radio: How to be Station of the Year
  • 11 Oct 2021 - Supporting Mental Health in Radio & Audio
  • 1 Dec 2021 - Meet The Agents
  • 15 Dec 2021 - The 2021 Wrap Up

The Audio & Radio Industry Awards

The 2021 ARIAS received more than 1000 entries for the first time.  The ceremony on 25 May was presented as a hybrid event, with 100 guests in attendance at an intimate (but socially-distanced) event in Central London.  The show invited nominees for all categories to join live via Zoom, and was streamed to all Radio Academy Members for free. The live stream had 750 viewers, with a further 450 watching on-demand. The nominees for the awards were also presented as a live video premiere, which has been watched 1,900 times. The Awards enjoyed the support of a family of 11 sponsors.

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The Radio Academy Festival

Our 2021 Festival was staged as a hybrid event, with speakers meeting together at the Wireless studios in London Bridge, and more than 300 Festival Delegates joining remotely via events platform AirMeet. Speakers included the Chief Content Officers of the BBC, Bauer and Wireless, the heads of Radio 1, KISS, 1Xtra, and Radio 4, and presenters Nadia Jae, Sophie K, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Claudia Winkleman and Clara Amfo. The theme was Redefining Talent – opening up a year-long focus on developing and nurturing talent in radio/audio.  The Festival enjoyed the support of a family of seven sponsors.

the Radio Academy Festival 2021 in News UK Building on Wednesday 3 Nov. 2021 
Photos by Mark Allan

Radio Academy Socials – Summer and Autumn

As the UK started to open up after a year of lockdowns, we took the opportunity to organise networking drinks events through Radio Academy branches across the country. On 19 July, we met in three cities (London, Cardiff, Manchester) and on 3 November – after The Festival – we met in ten cities simultaneously (adding Belfast, Bristol, Nottingham, Southampton, Leeds, Newcastle and Birmingham) with Glasgow meeting a week later. These have kick-started conversations about revitalising the Radio Academy Branches from 2022.

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The ReelWorld Radio Academy 30 Under 30

There were more than 200 applicants for our scheme that recognises young talent in the industry, which entered its 11th year in 2021.  We took the opportunity to uplift the profile we give the 30 Under 30 recipients, interviewing them all ahead of the announcement, and giving them the platform to tell the world about themselves and what they’ve achieved. These were shared on Twitter, making 736k impressions.

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The Radio Academy Mentoring Programme, supported by Broadcast Bionics

A brand-new initiative that launched in 2021, to support mid-career radio/audio professionals who need support to take a significant step in their careers. The programme attracted 69 applications, from which a cohort of 20 people will be inducted in January 2022. The scheme will match each person with a mentor from a different part of the industry, as well as form an ‘action learning set’ for support within the cohort. RAMP is facilitated by Mentoring Director Hannah Corneck, and will run again in 2022-23.

Careers Advice Website, supported by Radiocentre and BBC Academy

The Radio Academy launched a new resource after the Festival, which aims to support people to get into and get on in the radio/audio industry.  These webpages profile 33 different roles in the sector, and illustrate the skills you need to do them, as well as provide advice for CVs and interviews. These have launched as a ‘phase 1’ of the project, and will be constantly reviewed and improved over the coming years.


Radio Academy Bursaries

On a number of occasions in 2021, we offered bursaries so that people on lower incomes could attend valuable industry events.  We funded five UK bursary places to PodcastDay 24 (a one-day international podcasting conference) and a further five to Radio TechCon (the conference for broadcast engineering).  We offered 100 free delegate places to our own Radio Academy Festival, which were distributed through the Student Radio Association, Community Media Association, Community Radio Awards and our 2020 30 Under 30 list.

The Future Talent Fund

Self-organised by the Fellows of The Radio Academy, a generous provision has been made through individual donations for a fund to support people wishing to attend industry events.  This has been reserved for distribution from 2022 onwards, as more in-person events start to take place, and the cost of travel, accommodation and tickets risk reducing access.

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Radio Academy Membership

Through a consistent focus on requiring Radio Academy Membership to participate in most initiatives, we have driven membership uptake up by 73% year-on-year.  Income from Membership (from either patron organisations or individual membership) is our most important source of revenue, so we’re delighted to have increased membership by more than 1000 people this year.

The Radio Academy Team

The Radio Academy now has a regular part-time team of three staff – the Managing Director (0.6), the Events and Programming Producer (0.3), the Social Media Producer (0.2) – and is in the process of hiring an Audio Producer (0.3).

Our priorities for 2022

It is our intention to repeat all major initiatives from 2021, including RAMP, 30 Under 30, regular online events, and bursaries funded by the Future Talent Fund.  In addition, we aim to explore the following exciting new areas.

The Radio Academy Podcast

In early 2022, we will launch our new weekly podcast, sharing exciting radio and audio projects around the UK, and hearing from the people at the coal-face that make them.  The podcast will provide a platform for on-the-ground producers to share their skills and knowledge with the wider membership, and a chance for listeners to hear audio projects they might not have otherwise heard.

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Regional Training Days

We want to hold at least four training days at locations across the UK, working with the Radio Academy Branches, the Student Radio Association, the Community Media Association and other partners to share knowledge and insight from leading industry figures in underserved areas.

Transition to in-person events

With the hope that the Covid-19 pandemic will recede in 2022, we would like to hold a number of our Radio Academy Presents… events in-person, filmed for publication on our website.

We’d like to bring the energy of a live audience back to our programming, and provide more opportunities for pan-industry networking. We'll keep an eye on government guidelines and do this as soon as it feels right.

The ARIAS and Festival in-person

Similarly, we aim to hold The ARIAS 2022 as a fully in-person event at a major London theatre, and The Radio Academy Festival 2022 in-person at a London conference centre.

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Celebrate and Capture Heritage

With 2022 marking 100 years of the BBC, and 50 years of the Sound Broadcasting Act, we want to establish the role The Radio Academy can play in preserving the heritage of UK radio for future generations.  This will include engagement across the UK, and a focus on what audio practitioners today can learn from the radio greats of the past.

Thank you!

We want to end the year with a thank you - to all our members, all our sponsors, and everyone that's given their time to The Radio Academy this year, including speakers, judges, mentors and organisers.  The Radio Academy is your charity, and we exist to bring people together around our love of radio and audio.  Thank you for making it what it is.