Radio is special. We watch TV but we live with the wireless. The programmes and voices we tune into are there with us in the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, car and bus – and now the best of them are to be honoured at the ARIAs, the BAFTAs of the radio world.
As we know too well, 2020 was no ordinary year, however radio has been there for us, throughout everything. But what do you consider to have been the year’s stand-out piece of broadcasting?
In conjunction with the Radio Academy and organisers of the ARIAs, we’re asking you to pick the RT radio moment of 2020. Vote in the poll below – be quick, voting is open until 11:59pm on 18 May 2021 – and don’t click until you’re really sure who you want to win as once you’ve clicked, your vote will be submitted!
The nominees are…
Absolute Radio 40s marks VE Day 75
We got used to startling news announcements in 2020, but Absolute Radio came up with a zinger: “The German Army has surrendered, the war in Europe is over”. That news flash was just one of many that turned the clock back to the Second World War as the station launched its own 24-hour pop-up station to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Absolute Radio 40s featured interviews with veterans, big band hits and Frank Skinner’s legendary George Formby impersonation.
Annie Nightingale marks 50 years of broadcasting on Radio 1
In 2020, Annie Nightingale celebrated half a century of broadcasting on Radio 1 where, as the lone female DJ for much of that time, she was at the forefront of breaking new music such as punk, rave and acid. The momentous anniversary was marked by five special programmes and, in November, a show co-hosted with Nick Grimshaw in which she reflected on becoming Radio 1’s first female presenter in 1970. “I thought women would join me,” she revealed, “but there wasn’t anyone else for 12 years until Janice Long came along. That surprised me. I thought, ‘Maybe I’m a freak and nobody else wants to do this.’”
Clara Amfo reacts to Black Lives Matter on Radio 1
On 2 June 2020, in the wake of George Floyd’s brutal death in the US, presenter Clara Amfo turned down the music to talk about racism on her Radio 1 show. Raw, emotional, angry, it’s a remarkable piece of broadcasting. Almost overcome by her emotion at one point, Amfo fights back her tears and continues her impassioned and measured speech about Floyd’s death and how it had impacted on her own mental health. One of those rare moments when radio is both a participant in and witness to history.
Crofty’s IVF Journey on Go Radio
Radio, such a personal idiom that speaks directly into our lives, is uniquely placed to engage with May’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and many stations addressed the subject in 2020. Go Radio Breakfast went further, as one of the presenters, Gary “Crofty” Muircroft, opened up about his own mental health struggles and the impact of the many miscarriages his wife had suffered while undergoing IVF. It was a heartfelt plea for men to take their emotions and mental health seriously — to talk. Exactly what radio is for.
Ian Wright remembers Mr Pigden on Desert Island Discs on Radio 4
Desert Island Discs deals in emotional memories. Even so, in February, when Ian Wright remembered Mr Pigden, the school teacher who had recognised his potential when he was a struggling schoolboy with an abusive stepfather, it was reach-for-the-tissues stuff. A few months later Wright said: “I was very open with Lauren Laverne on Desert Island Discs. Every day since I’ve received messages from people who had similar experiences growing up. Not speaking is what helps abuse continue.” A clip of the show went viral on Twitter, getting 2.9 million views, far beyond the show’s usual reach and demographic.
Jordan & Perri react to Diversity’s BLM performance on KISS FM
In September, when dance group Diversity performed their Black Lives Matter-supporting routine on Britain’s Got Talent,
it led to an outpouring of support. “We’re all about positivity and love and we got so much positivity and love back,” the group’s Jordan Banjo and Perri Kiely (above) told their Kiss FM show listeners. But the duo also revealed that they had been bombarded with negative messages that had left them “anxious and worried”. It made for a poignant moment of reflection in Kiss FM’s usually full-on schedule.
Laura Whitmore reacts to the death of Caroline Flack on Radio 5 Live
On 15 February 2020, the presenter Caroline Flack took her own life. The following day her friend Laura Whitmore overcame her grief to host her regular Sunday morning show on Radio 5 Live, and made an emotional statement about Flack. Whitmore described a vivacious talent who had taken to heart the attacks she received on social media. “The respect that she deserved she didn’t always get,” said Whitmore, before confronting trolls directly: “You don’t have to tear down someone to feel good about yourself.”
Professor Hugh Montgomery with Michael Rosen on The Reunion on Radio 4
Having made her debut as host of The Reunion in August 2020, on 30 December Kirsty Wark oversaw one of the most moving encounters in the show’s history. Struck down with COVID during the peak of the outbreak, children’s author and poet Michael Rosen spent weeks as a patient at London’s Whittington Hospital, where Professor Hugh Montgomery led the intensive care team that kept him alive. After Rosen recounted his own experience there was a moment of almost unbearable sadness, when Montgomery revealed that his 17-year-old son Oscar drowned last May.
Scotland qualify for Euro 2020 on The Big Scotland Football Show from Bauer Scotland
In what was a dark year for the UK, there were moments of unlikely joy on the radio. Few, however, were as unlikely as the Scotland national team qualifying for its first major football tournament since the 1998 World Cup when, in November, Scotland beat Serbia on penalties to reach Euro 2020 (to be played this year). At the final whistle, Ewen Cameron, Steven Mill and Cat Harvey, covering the game for Scotland’s Hits Radio network, went utterly, joyfully bonkers. Harvey’s cry of “open the bevvy” echoed around the nation.
Voting for the Radio Times Moment Of The Year at the 2021 Audio and Radio Industry Awards (ARIAs) is open until 11:59pm on 18 May 2021. If you’re looking for something to watch, head over to our TV Guide.