Sunderland podcast scoops prestigious New York Radio award

A Sunderland-based podcast has scooped an award for its culture content.

Tuesday, 2nd July 2019, 16:59 pm
Betty Ball and Stevie Burnikell at the New York Radio Awards

Speak Up Sunderland, which is produced in the city, has been awarded Best Podcast: Culture and the Arts at the prestigious New York Radio Awards, following on in the footsteps of previous winners BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio Wales.

Known in the radio world as “the Oscars of Radio2, the New York Awards celebrates the best of radio production from across the world.

Speak Up Sunderland began in July 2018, when local community radio presenters Betty Ball and Stevie Burnikell came together with producer Jay Sykes to share Sunderland stories which are close to their hearts.

“We aspire to be a community-driven mouthpiece for Sunderland; helping to strengthen the city’s reputation, discuss important and challenging issues, and carry the torch for a city,” says Jay, who teaches audio and radio production at the University of Sunderland.

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As well as covering events, the podcast also tackles issues such as mental health, foodbanks, addiction and alcohol harm prevention, human trafficking, and the inclusivity of the city.

“I’m deeply honoured and bursting with pride about it,” says half of the presenting duo Stevie, who was in New York with Betty to pick up the award.

“It’s been massively magnified being here in New York too as I’m representing my hometown on a world stage.”

Sunderland City Council helped support the Speak Up Sunderland duo financially in travelling to the Big Apple.

“It means so much to us to have this support from the council,” says Jay.

“We are indebted to the team and their invaluable help.”

Betty said: “This award is for everyone - who’s been involved in our podcast, who’s got in touch, who’s watched our videos - everyone. Thank you.”

Since January, the team have been hosting regular live recorded open mic style events at The Peacock, in the city centre, hosting discussions with Sunderland City Council members, mental health and wellbeing charities, poets, and notable people.