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Celebrating Purple Radio’s success

In November 2021, 23 Durham students and alumni made the trek down to London to become the most decorated station in the UK. Alongside huge hosts from the world of radio, including BBC Radio 1 DJs Vick Hope and Dean McCullough, Heart’s Dev Griffin and Capital’s Aimee Vivian, the O2, the setting for the Student Radio Awards, was packed full of industry talent and Durham’s not-so-little-anymore station proved our broadcasters are amongst the best in the country.

It has been an absolutely insane year for Purple Radio. Granted, it’s been a hugely abnormal year for everyone, but against the backdrop of Covid, the station became homeless and found new homes (multiple times), achieved our highest ever listenership and membership figures, and aired more drag queens, Durham lecturers (North Carolina) and Die-Hard skits than ever before. This crazy year culminated in an awards season that was not only the station’s best ever-performance, but also saw Purple pick up more trophies than any other student station.

Rebuilding because of Covid

With our slightly crusty-but-trusty station of 25 years deemed unsafe during Covid, we were forced to rebuild our studios within the space of 5 hours, relocating to two studios in meeting rooms in the SU building. Our broadcasters took it in their stride and began a jam-packed schedule ranging from KPop hours to murder mysteries and sports commentary, yet only one week into our temporary home, we were hit with a lockdown. In stepped Josh Davies, capeless hero of tech, who managed to adapt and build a remote broadcasting system and set up 70 remote broadcasting accounts, all for free, in just one weekend. For context, other stations pay thousands for such a service from professional suppliers. The man rightly deserved his SRA Bronze award for Best Newcomer and Silver for Best Technical Achievement.

Meanwhile Jo Wright rallied Purple’s first ever team of producers to support broadcasters as they transitioned to making radio from their bedrooms. She hugely deserves her Bronze award for Best Producer and has gone on to become a tour de force as Purple’s current Station Manager. 

Changing the culture at Purple

The producer team was a significant part of why we went on to win the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Award, but it would have been impossible without two key members of the exec. Molly Stazicker joined Purple in Summer 2020 as Head of Broadcasting and Welfare, and has been integral to transforming the culture at Purple. From changing our station contracts to push respect and accessibility, to leading debates around pivotal issues challenging the student community, Molly has steered that side of the Purple ship with compassion and care. As has Lim Jia Ying, the station’s first ever Head of Arts and Drama, who not only built the station’s biggest subteam of 40 students (!!), but also championed the voices and experiences of trans- and gender- diverse communities through her radio plays. Whilst there is still a long way to go as a station and as a student body, this award nod recognised the determination of the team to hold ourselves accountable and fight for positive change.

Purple Radio wins Gold at the SRAs

We also won Best Station Branding. For the second year in a row. I was hugely lucky to work on our socials and branding alongside the absolute powerhouses in the creative team, led by the legend that is Simon Lake, Millie Morton and Ariel Hollamby, alongside the video genius of James Tillotson. If you haven’t seen their artwork yet, check out our Instagram – I’m sure we will all be seeing their creative work on a professional level in years to come.

In another part of the station, the News Team were busy producing incredible coverage of events at the university and beyond. The report ‘Durham Through Covid’ by Abi Brierley, Bill Pain, Emma Ghanem and Ella Bicknell rightly won Bronze for Best Journalistic Programming at the SRAs. 

Podcasts have been critical to Purple’s success

Ella Bicknell deserves a paragraph of her own. She racked up a phenomenal 5 nominations alone! Alongside 2 silvers, her incredible podcast episode ‘Letters to a Stranger’, in which Ella writes to random addresses and reads out the stories they reveal, won not only Best Podcast, but the Kevin Greening Award for Creativity, a category recognising remarkable creative flair.

Shoutouts should also go to the following nominees: DUADS, best podcast nominees for their incredible retelling of ‘The Three Musketeers’; Molly Stazicker, Best Newcomer; the team who worked on Battle of the Broadcasters: Purple’s SRA Chart Show, Best Multiplatform Initiative; Will Hobbs, Best Interview; and last, but not least, the entire station, for being shortlisted in the top 6 of all stations in the UK for the second year running!

Inspiring leadership

It’s worth mentioning briefly Gabriel Radus, our Station Manager of 2020/21 – without his unrelenting optimism and huge passion for each and every member of Purple, the station would have undoubtedly closed over the course of the pandemic. It was a pleasure to work by his side, and is so inspiring to see how Jo Wright and Simon Lake are thriving as the new SM and Deputy, with a huge new exec team to boot. 

(Edit: Alex has also been an absolute hero. Without her, nothing would have been done and for all the unrelenting positivity, I’d have forgotten to do 95% of things. She’s the cement that glued the station together and allowed us to dream big. – Gabriel)

Purple Radio team celebrating success at the SRAs

If we could have brought all of our 14 exec members, 25 officers and the 300 other presenters, podcasters and members down from Durham we would have, because each and every person who has helped build the station into what it is today deserves to be celebrated. The abnormal nature of the past year meant that many of us who’d spent countless hours working together remotely actually met in person for the first time at the event, which made it all the more awesome. Purple was remarked by many to have cheered louder than any other station, and the open bar didn’t go to waste… 

Getting involved in Purple creates great opportunities

If you have the chance to be a part of Purple in any way, I couldn’t recommend it more highly. If the opportunity to gain national recognition or party at the O2 arena doesn’t sell it enough, then the incredible community of talented, passionate people should. Huge congrats again to this amazing team, all legends.

A few more honourable mentions from Purple’s award season – at the Amplify awards for behind the scenes work in student radio, Purple picked up 5 golds out of 10 categories: The Student Radio Amplify Award – Gold to Jia Ying Lim, Highly Commended to Gabriel Radus; Hero of the Moment – Gold to Josh Davies; Student Radio Moment of the Year – Gold to Purple’s Christmas Special; Best Station Culture – Gold; Best Promotional Initiative – Gold for Purple’s Freshers Events; Most Improved Station – Silver; Best Outreach Project – Silver to ‘Voices of Durham’ and IWM Coverage; Team of the Year – Bronze to our News Team; Media Collaboration of the Year – Bronze to Howay the North! 

Discover more

About Purple Radio here.

Download our latest prospectus and college guide here.

Follow our students on Instagram and YouTube.

Alex Orton

Alex is Deputy Station Manager at Purple Radio. She is a member of Trevelyan College.
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