This years Student Radio Awards Evening will be the 16th time the Student Radio community has come together to celebrate its achievement with an awards ceremony and like most 16 year olds - it's grown a heck of a lot, and had a few tantrums along the way.
The awards story begins in 1995 when Nick Wallis, then chair of the student radio association decided that what the world of student radio needed was a "showpiece occasion" - and that BBC Radio 1 were the sponsors needed to make the event a prestigious occasion. Nick wrote to Matthew Bannister the controller of Radio 1 at the time presenting his idea for a national awards ceremony for student radio. Understandably Nick didn't expect to hear anything back, so was genuinely overwhelmed to see a reply land on the doormat from the controller himself saying that the ceremony sounded like "an excellent idea".
So, the story had begun, and with the help of Radio 1 the Student Radio Association launched the first student radio awards process - which has remained largely unchanged to this day. The awards featured entrants across a range of categories from Best Presenters, Best Innovation and Best Factual Programme - alongside the Best Station award (the only category which remains unchanged to this day). The first awards ceremony took place in the bar at the University of London Union - presented by Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley, and attended by (then) up and coming comedian Peter Kay and Jarvis Cocker (where are they now!). The Awards fast outgrew Union Bars - and has since been held at a variety of venues across London from Shepherds' Bush Pavilion to the indigO2.
The support of Radio 1 has continued to this day - with the station taking headline sponsorship of the awards for the full 14 year history - however the awards have also seen support from sponsors as diverse as Scream Bars, Dorothy Perkins and perhaps most oddly Iceland (the food store - not the country!). In recent years we've seen more support than ever from the commercial radio industry, with Global Radio, Bauer and 4Talent all providing support for the awards.
The list of awards winners over the years reads almost as a who's who of radio - with winners including Kevin Hughes (former presenter of Music Control on the one network), Marsha Shandur (Presenter, XFM), Matt Deegan (Creative Director, Folder Media), Greg James (Presenter, BBC Radio 1) and most recently Mark Crossley (Presenter BRMB and the Global West Midlands Network). Not to say the history of the awards hasn't had a few rough patches - from sticking up posters all over venues to hide adverts for the headline sponsor's main rival to being so short of hands on the day the Chair of the awards committee ended up running around putting out the programmes (Kevin Greening if you were interested!).
Possibly the darkest day for the awards came in 2004 when due to a 'slight' miscalculation regarding VAT - the awards ceremony nearly bankrupt the Student Radio Association. The Awards (and fortunately the association) recovered from this, and has continued to grow in size - with the 2008 awards seeing the highest level of entries ever (nearly 500) and possibly the most glamorous student radio awards ceremony ever in the best venue we've ever had (the indigO2).
We're expecting the awards to once again continue to grow - the entire of the awards judging process will be carried out online again (we're hoping it works just as much as you are!) - meaning it should be easier than ever before to ensure all judges have a chance to listen to the entries, and to get feedback out to all entrants. The indigo is once again booked for the ceremony - and we're hoping to see even more faces from both the world of student radio and the radio industry along for the night!