At a time when radio is being disrupted by digital technology, one thing that has remained consistent is the importance of the personalities that produce the content on a daily basis. The executives across both commercial networks have on numerous occasions posited the local voices behind the microphones as key point of difference that traditional radio still has over its digital counterparts. And at last night's New Zealand Radio Awards, the industry commended those who have over the last year kept the airwaves alive with their voices, quirky promos and, increasingly, video clips.
Hosted by Andrew Mulligan and Bryce Casey at the Auckland Museum Atrium, the event was one of the few industry awards shows where the audience actually listened to the presenters on stage. And the pair took full advantage of the opportunity, making a constant stream of satirical jabs at virtually everyone in attendance (including themselves).
Early on in the presentation, the pair shared a faux Tweet from Flava presenter David Fane, saying that two white guys were again presenting the awards show. Another fake Tweet came from John Key, who said that he wished he could've been in attendance because of the abundance of ponytails at the event. And, rather than moderating over time, the humour only became more controversial as the evening progressed, and a few of the jokes were greeted with a mixed responses—and some awkward groans—from the audience. But despite these few hiccups, the pair managed to entertain the crowd and kept a general buzz around the room going for the entire presentation.
Comedy often touches on the truth, and nowhere was this more evident than when Mulligan described a car park fight between MediaWorks and NZME employees. Because while the the NZ Radio Awards brings the industry together, it also results in a bit of competitive banter between the two major commercial players.
As was the case over the previous three years, MediaWorks again collected the most gongs, winning a total of 28, which was six more than the 22 won by NZME.
The coveted Station of the Year award went to The Edge for the second year in a row, and the station also won Best Network Station promotion for 'Love You Man', Best Station Digital Execution for #JMD Break the Internet, and Best Station Imaging, and Best Promotional Trailer.
The other major gong, the Sir Paul Holmes Broadcaster of the Year award, went to Mike Hosking, who won for his work on Newstalk ZB (Hosking also picked up the Talk Presenter award).
Upon taking to stage to collect the Broadcaster of the Year award, Hosking said that when he joined the industry as a 16-year-old it was filled with "retards" and that it had changed significantly since then. For obvious reasons, the response to this statement wasn't positive, but the audience warmed up to Hosking when he went on to advise young Kiwis to work hard if they want to succeed.
Other award highlights for NZME included Newstalk ZB’s Leighton Smith being awarded Best Talkback Presenter and honoured for his Outstanding Contribution to Radio.
And while Newstalk ZB certainly enjoyed a successful night, the station's MediaWorks-owned competitor RadioLive also put in a strong showing by winning all the gongs in the news categories, with Hilary Barry named Best Newsreader, Jessica Williams named Best Journalist, and Best Team Coverage of a News Story awarded to the RadioLive Team for their coverage of the Sydney siege.
MediaWorks' other big winner on the night was Rock. In their first year on air, Jono Pryor and Ben Boyce were named Best Music Non-Breakfast Hosts, and took home Best Video (for Wind Up – Jono), and Best Single Station Client Campaign went to Jono and Ben for the V Vanilla Ice Bucket Challenge.
MediaWorks Radio chief executive Wendy Palmer applauded all the winners from the network, and also made special mention of Simon Barnett and Gary McCormick at MoreFM who finally won Best Breakfast after being among the finalists for the last ten years.
Palmer also singled out Leon Wratt, who was named Best Content Director for his work on The Edge across TV, radio and digital.
The branching out of the Edge beyond radio is by no means unique to the station. As explained by NZME Radio managing director Dean Buchanan: "Radio is the fastest changing medium, making it dynamic, fun, exciting, challenging and multi-faceted – in fact we’re not just in the radio business, where on the business of engaging listeners, consumers and clients through multiple platforms and devices. This gives us great flexibility to continue to grow our content and commercial offerings."
The Best Client Digital Execution category stands as testament of how important this aspect has become to the industry. This year, all finalists in the category were NZME promotions, with iHeartRadio’s The Alternative Commentary Collective (ACC) beating the 'Noel Leeming Massive Sellout' promotion for the Radio Bureau/NZME and ZM’sTappy D Moonshine Bootlegger, and 2degrees4G "The Drop" promotions.
Last year, the Blackie Award, which annually goes to the year's golden moment in radio, went to The Edge for its sensational Miley Cyrus video clip featuring Jay-Jay, Mike and Dom. And the station was again a recipient in this category, sharing the award with The Rock’s Morning Rumble (Rog, Bruce and Doully) for the 'Station Swap' stunt on April Fools' Day.
Of course, radio would not be possible without sales teams, and this was a category dominated by MediaWorks, with MediaWorks Canterbury being named Metropolitan Sales Team of the Year, and MediaWorks Tauranga winning Regional Sales Team of the Year.
And while the awards ceremony was typified by a sense of competition throughout the night, it was also nice to see the audience come together to salute the recipients of the Services to Broadcasting awards (Tom Davidson, Phil Yule and Bill Hayes) and the winners of the Outstanding Contribution to Radio Awards (Leighton Smith, Sussan Turner and Gill Stewart).
Here is the full list of the winners: