Radio Academy awards four fellowships at 2023 festival

Highest honour from the Academy recognises outstanding work and achievements

The Radio Academy has awarded four members of the audio industry with fellowships, recognising their outstanding work, achievements, and commitment to sharing their knowledge with the community. 

The fellowships were announced yesterday at the second-annual Radio Academy Festival at London’s Royal College of Physicians, which brings together radio and audio professionals to network and share ideas. This year’s theme was ‘Sound Connections’ and featured numerous sessions across three stages, with catch-up videos available to watch on the website. 

Members of the audio industry that were awarded with the fellowships include Matt Deegan, Folder Media director, and the co-founder of kids podcast network Fun Kids and the British Podcast Awards. The fellowship was awarded by The Radio Academy’s deputy chair Nick Pitts who said that Deegan is recognised “as one of the UK’s foremost commentators on audio and radio”. 

“There are a number of exceptionally talented creatives working in audio and there are also an equal number of gifted technical wizards - but very few excel at both - and our new fellow certainly does that,” said Pitts. 

“I'm very honoured to have been awarded a Radio Academy fellowship, especially when it's such an impressive group of people,” Deegan told PodPod. “When it was announced yesterday, I said that the thing I cared about a lot was listeners, and I've always been motivated by doing a good job for them, however they listen - radio or podcasts. We don't have a god-given right to their time, so it's up to all of us to focus on doing a great job for them.” 

Nina Robinson, chief executive officer of media production company Soundtruism, was also awarded a fellowship from the Academy by actor and broadcaster Sir Lenny Henry for her work in the podcasting community, focusing on narrative factual podcast production and organising the annual Birmingham Podcast Festival.

“Nina is a trailblazer. A multi-award winner… But at the heart of all this tremendous work… is using audio to tell incredibly powerful stories and empowering people to use audio to tell their own stories,” said Henry, “for the benefit of themselves and their communities.” 

Other fellows that were honoured during the event include Magic Radio deputy content director Sheena Mason, who has over 25 years of experience in the radio industry, with 15 specifically at Bauer helping shape its audio strategy. Ray Paul, founder of music and entertainment production and consultancy company The Playmaker Group, was also awarded a fellowship for his contribution to the radio industry, with a 20-year career at the BBC and co-founding digital radio station 1Xtra in 2001. 

This year’s Radio Academy Festival opening remarks featured a speech by the organisation’s managing director Aradhna Tayal Leach who was appointed to the role in June this year. Leach, who has nearly 20 years of experience in the radio industry and previously served as a trustee for the Academy from 2018 to 2020, is the first woman and person of colour to hold the role, and comes from an engineering background.

She spoke about the Radio Academy’s new strategy as it enters its 41st year, focusing on nourishing the community and prioritising the development of creators. This will be backed by offering training skills, sharing resources that open different career paths and jobs, and hosting more events that will allow creators to network across the UK as well as celebrate their achievements. 

“Without more diverse people, we won’t be able to reach diverse audiences,” said Leach. “It’s more important than ever before to invest in our people. We are here to support people and break down barriers to help them grow their career and make connections. 

“We believe in equity, we value people’s differences and diversity and we stand for an open and inclusive industry where every person’s voice is respected.”