NYF’s Open Mic: Radio on Radio with Helen Shaw

Radio on Radio features insights and observations on the wonderful world of Radio by New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards Grand Jury members. NYF’s Grand Jury is comprised of award-winning directors, producers, journalists, writers, actors, creative directors, composers, on-air talent, and programming executives who are actively involved in creating the innovative radio programs heard on radio today. Who better to share their insider information on the wonderful world of radio than this respected group of prominent industry thought leaders?

This week NYF’s Radio on Radio will explore the evolution taking place in the world of radio with 2017 Grand Jury member, Helen Shaw.

Helen Shaw accepting the 2016 Grand Trophy

Helen Shaw is founder and CEO of Athena Media, an award-winning transmedia company based in Dublin and Manchester. Ms Shaw, a multi-award winning broadcaster, earned the prestigious 2016 Grand Award in the History category for the documentary “The Kinder Letters” that captures a rare glimpse of post-war Europe through the microcosm of a children’s book. She is a former editor with the BBC and was previously MD Radio, RTÉ, Ireland’s public broadcaster.

Helen had this to say about Athena Media earning the Grand Award.

“To win the Grand Award for The Kinder Letters is quite incredible for us. We’re a small production house and it took us nearly two years to get the documentary made and to reach an audience. It is, at heart, a beautiful, human story – ultimately a love story – which allowed us to tell a much bigger story about post war Europe and the strange relationship between Ireland and Germany. The documentary is very much a team effort, but all credit has to go to the researcher and recordist Robert Hope who first met Tony O’Herlihy, the presenter and source of The Kinder Letters, in his German class, and

Helen Shaw and Tony O'Herlihy at the 2016 NYF Radio Awards

unraveled the story of the ‘danke’ book.”

In the interview below Helen shares her thoughts on the ever-evolving world of radio, the importance of freedom of the press, and what radio dream show she’d like to create.

New York Festivals: How will radio transform in the coming years? What is the biggest shift you’ve noticed this past year?

Helen Shaw: Radio will continue to break free of its constraints of time, platform and location. Online radio and audio through podcasts is rapidly becoming how we find and share audio stories and we’re also now very used to the idea that great audio stories and shows also come from non radio businesses like the New York Times,the New Yorker and Audible. Journalism is back in vogue, (thankfully), and strong audio journalism is on the up given the ease of use in mobile phones. So my advice? Embrace podcasting more.

New York Festivals: Will you talk about the importance of freedom of press?

Helen Shaw: My big new listens this year are from the New York Times (The Daily) podcast and the New Yorker Radio Show. As someone based in Ireland trying to stay on top of events in the U.S. is critical and these two shows have been ‘must listen’ additions. I think both remind us of the need to support journalism and a free press. In many this the growth of audio storytelling and audio journalism has meant most great newspapers now have audio channels (as well as obviously some video output). In Ireland The Irish Times now produces magazine shows on a weekly business in both news and features and that level of competition between the traditional radio players and the new digital audio players is good for audiences. We’re definitely getting more choice but the critical factor in maintaining quality journalism and a free press is a strong business model for content. Podcasts are still free and that is challenging. Some, like Serial, have found strong sponsorship support, but that is still quite fragile in other countries and the concept of how we fund media is a vital debate and discussion for policy makers in any democracy. Increasingly public broadcasting models have to conform or face digital realities. In Uk and Ireland there is a TV license fee which covers public broadcasting but which bears little relationship with how audiences now use content, which is often non-linear and on smart phones. There’s a real need to re-open a global public discussion about not just the value of a free press in democracy but how we fund or pay for that social and political value.

New York Festivals: What would be your dream show to create, budget no object?

Helen Shaw:  An online independent, trusted global podcast, coming out daily, with the strength and support of top quality journalists and editors, tackling one key story a day.

The deadline to enter the 2017 World’s Best Radio Programs competition is March 17, 2017. To enter go to: Log In and for additional information go to: Rules and Regulations.

Join New York Festivals Monday, June 19, 2017 as we honor the World’s Best Radio Programs at an awards ceremony at in New York City. To view the 2016 World’s Best Radio Program Ceremony Gala, please visit: http://www.newyorkfestivals.com


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