Open Mic Spotlight: Simon Hollis

New York Festivals International Radio Awards jury of award-winning directors, producers, journalists, writers, actors, creative directors, composers, on-air talent, and programming executives are actively involved in creating the innovative content on radio today. Each week Open Mic Spotlight taps into the minds of content creators from the wonderful world of radio. Who better to share their insiders view of radio then the Radio Awards Grand Jury?

Simon Hollis, Head of Brook Lapping Radio, Brook Lapping has made a number of programs for BBC  Simon started working as a producer and writer on 5 Live’s weekly political programme Sunday Service.  In 2006, his Lennon: The Wenner Tapes won a Sony Gold.  A number of other programmes have also received awards, including Falklands: War at the White House, Not No-One: The Story of the Unknown Soldier, The Politics of Dancing: How Disco Changed the World and The Day Before 9/11, all for Radio 4. His two part series on soul music and civil rights I Should be Proud was the overall Grand winner of 2008’s International Radio Broadcasting Awards held in New York, as was The New York 77 Blackout the following year. In 2010 his profile of Margaret Thatcher, The New York 77 Blackout, won a Sony Gold. The 2012 series Black is a Country – which chronicled the music and politics of the Black Power movement – took a Sony Silver for Best Music Documentary.

How did you get your start in the radio industry?

Simon Hollis: I was interviewed at a small, independent production company called Planet 24 Radio that had just won a great commission to make a weekly news and politics show for BBC radio. It was in at the deep end.

What was the turning point in your career?

Simon Hollis: Moving from live news and current affairs, where I made short packages, to long-form feature making which is really what I wanted to do.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Simon Hollis: It’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission! Or: assume listeners are highly intelligent and know nothing.

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry?

ISimon Hollis: Think the overall standards of feature making are much higher now than ever before.

What is the responsibility of journalists in today’s world?

Simon Hollis: The same as always – to tell the truth, be critical, challenge consensus and not be cowed, especially by the toxic term ‘fake news’ which is aimed at discrediting any journalism that certain regimes don’t like

What program do you wish you created?

Simon Hollis: There’s a BBC Radio 4 format called ‘The Reunion’ which is a genius idea and the brilliant ‘99% Invisible’, which shows what audio can do in terms of ‘visual’ fields like architecture and design.

What do you think are the hallmarks of award-winning work?

Simon Hollis: Elegance, form and focus.

What would be your dream job?

Simon Hollis: This one, pretty much.

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