Here, Rose Anderson, VP and executive director of New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards, discusses how the World's Best Radio Programs competition has transformed over the past few years, the return on investment for entering, and how technology has changed radio and its impact on content...
How has the International Radio Program Awards transformed since you’ve been at the helm?
Seven years ago, even the name was behind the times, and the categories were left over from the analog age. So, we canvassed industry leaders to join an advisory board and went to work. We had a new trophy designed; one that captures the magic of radio’s past while looking into its future. The net result has been more entries from more countries, and an ever-increasing year-by-year superior level of quality in our submissions.
How do you keep the Awards relevant and on trend with the evolving radio landscape?
First, we listen. We listen to our entrants. We ask them what keeps them up at night.
Talk us through the relevance of radio for the African continent.
The medium of radio is unsurpassed in transmitting fast-breaking news and bringing actuality across wide distances. Radio reporters can file reports and documentaries that have an immediacy. Community service messaging can reach those who need information, and talk radio/public affairs programs can provide a forum to exchange ideas. Live broadcasts from Tahrir Square won NYF World Medals for Radio Sawa. Radio is the universal language.
What is your future vision for the Awards?
So, more and better as we connect with everyone who is passionate about all aspects of audio.
What have been the greatest challenges throughout the competition and how have you overcome them?
The greatest challenge is fairness. Who decides what program is better than another one? It all comes down to who is on the jury, and their depth of experience. What we do is invite the winners to join the next year’s jury, and this year, so far, the 2017 grand jury is made up of 35% women – all award-winning radio achievers and every one with hands-on experience in creating what people are listing to today.
What are the most exciting categories you've added to the competition in the past few years and why?
Let me list just a few – and you’ll see why these categories made everyone sit up and take notice: Heroes, Music Documentary, Music Podcast, PSAs, Audiobooks, Best Live Sound, Sound Art, Best Innovation, Personal Lives Podcast, Best Music Program Host, Best Interview, Travel & Tourism, Social Issues, Biographies, Climate Change & Sustainability, and Best Live News Special.
What is the ROI for entering the Awards and why should someone consider entering this year?
It’s not for the glittering prizes – although our trophy is stunning. It’s not even for the international press coverage we give our winners or the cachet of being around for over thirty years. But when you stand at the podium at the awards gala, surrounded by your peers who know that radio is the universal language, well, if that isn’t return on investment, I don’t know what is.
Talk about the importance of the Grand Trophy Award and the qualities those programs earning this award possess.
Grands are the Best In Show, it’s as simple as that – the highest scoring entries in a very competitive field. Those programs have stood out in two rounds of judging: preliminary and medal rounds. They are often compelling in subject matter, ambitious in scope, and off the charts in degree of difficulty. In short, they flat out amaze.
How has technology changed radio entries and what is its impact on content?
The tools available today – in sound design, in layering, in transmission – have meant that today’s entries are made on a level of complexity that wasn’t possible in years past. What we have done in our judging platform (which is password protected by the way) is to upgrade the player so jury members all over the world hear programs at that quality, and they can enter that aural landscape easily.
How has technological change like podcasts and streaming changed the way consumers and advertisers understand radio?
Podcasts and streaming have meant a huge uptick in on-demand listening – giving new life to the medium of radio – and increased the amount of creative content available. It really is anywhere anytime audio!
What three characteristics would you say make for a successful radio award entry?
Storytelling. Passion. Innovation. After all, it is the theatre of the mind.
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