Entertainment & Arts

BBC 6 Music wins top Sony radio award

Presenters and staff of 6 Music accept the Sony Award with presenter Tom Jones
Image caption 6 Music presenters and staff accepted the award from presenter Sir Tom Jones

Digital radio station BBC 6 Music has been named UK station of the year at the Sony Radio Academy Awards, two years after it was saved from closure.

6 Music was given a reprieve in 2010 after a campaign by its listeners.

Other winners included football pundits Andy Gray and Richard Keys, who won best sports programme 18 months after leaving Sky Sports amid a sexism row.

BBC Radio Humberside's Betty Smith, 90, and Beryl Renwick, 86, became the academy's oldest ever winners.

The pair won the entertainment award category for their regular appearances on David Reeves' show to discuss their week's activities. They were described by judges as "a joyous, entertaining double act".

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Media captionBeryl and Betty on the secret to their radio chemistry: ''We are different''

The BBC won 22 of 37 awards, and the prize for 6 Music is the first time a digital-only service has won the top trophy.

A BBC strategy review had marked it out for closure but this sparked a huge backlash from musicians, listeners and politicians. The BBC Trust later ruled out its closure.

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Media captionBeryl and Betty on the air, hours before the Sonys, with David Reeves

The increased exposure also led to a rise in listeners, doubling from 700,000 in early 2010 to 1.4 million at the end of 2011.

Speaking of 6 Music's win, the judges said the station showed "a confidence across its schedule that not only reflects a real passion for music but also a firm understanding of the audience".

Meanwhile, speaking of Gray and Keys, the Sony judges said: "Their knowledge and professionalism was second to none and in their debut year of broadcasting on British radio they have become a must-listen for serious sports fans."

The pair left Sky Sports after their off-air comments about assistant football referee Sian Massey in January 2011 Premier League game led to further incidents of off-colour remarks coming to light. Sky sacked Gray and Keys resigned shortly afterwards.

Collecting the award at the ceremony in London's Grosvenor House, Keys said: "Isn't life funny? Chuffed to bits. Many, many thanks."

The award for best breaking news coverage went to BBC Radio 4's PM show, while its host Eddie Mair won best interview for his broadcast with Julie Nicholson, whose daughter Jenny was killed in the London bombings of 7 July 2005.

Best news and current affairs programme went to the BBC's 5 live Drive and the station's Victoria Derbyshire and Stephen Nolan picked up individual speech awards. News journalist of the year was Radio 4's Mike Thomson.

Image caption Kiss FM's Rickie, Charlie and Melvin took the best breakfast show prize

Music awards went to BBC Radio 1's Fearne Cotton and Radio 2's Jools Holland and Chris Evans - who hosted the Sony ceremony.

But Evans lost out on the Breakfast Show of the Year award - which went went to Kiss FM's Breakfast with Rickie, Melvin and Charlie.

Meanwhile, Classic FM took the Special Award in recognition of "its significant and valuable contribution to commercial radio in this its 20th anniversary year".

And Nicholas Parsons was awarded the honorary Gold Award after 45 years as host of the BBC Radio 4 show Just A Minute.

John Myers, chief executive of the Radio Academy and chairman of awards committee, said: "All our award winners have shown that UK radio is crackling with talent and vitality."

After the ceremony, BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music DJ Huey Morgan vented his anger at losing out in the music radio personality of the year award category.

Writing on Twitter in the early hours of Tuesday morning, he accused some of his fellow nominees of not choosing the music for their own shows - and responded angrily to members of the public who challenged him.

He concluded: "I don't care about the awards y'all".

The tweets have since been deleted. Morgan later added : "I am sorry for my comments last night. If I offended anyone, I apologise.

"I will tweet no more. Goodbye and thank you for [the] reality check."

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