Religious radio awards get new 'Jerusalem'

16 October 2015

Anthony Medley

In the movies: cast members from the award-winning production by Ashley Woods, Nativity on the Overground:left to right: Ruth Samuels, Adam Eju-Konem, Natalie Eju-Konem, Ioana Eju-Konem, and Bridget Cass, Jerusalem Trust

In the movies: cast members from the award-winning production by Ashley Woods, Nativity on the Overground:left to right: Ruth Samuels, Adam Eju-Konem,...

THE Jerusalem Awards celebrated their 20th anniversary on Tuesday by commissioning a new setting of the hymn “Jerusalem” for brass band. The music, by the composer and arranger Harvey Brough, was played at the close of the ceremony at the Princess Anne Theatre, in London.

The 2015 winners were announced by the actress and presenter Connie Fisher, and included BBC Radio 4 for its programme Good Friday Meditation — No Greater Love, and Premier Christian Radio for World War One Stories.

The Jerusalem Awards were founded in the summer of 1995, after a change in broadcasting legislation meant that religious content was no longer compulsory for independent radio stations.

The director of Jerusalem Productions and chair of the judging panels, Bridget Cass, said last Friday that the original purpose was “to make certain” that content about Good Friday was broadcast on commercial radio.

The first winner, Alison Burnett, who came back to judge this year, said: “The prize really impressed the radio-station management, who until then had looked on the ‘God stuff’ as a bit of a sideline to my weekday drive show.”

Since then, the BBC World Service, Premier Christian Radio, Christian websites, and county radio stations have won prizes for programmes covering a range of Christian content and festivals. Not all winners, however, are well established: the University of Chester’s Cat Radio station won best Easter programme last year, and had an average audience of just 15 listeners.

Today, there are ten categories, and the prizes, funded by the charity the Jerusalem Trust, total £21,000. Most winners choose to split the cash between their team, donate it to charity, or put it back into another project.

Categories include Under-25s, short- (under five minutes) and long-form radio, digital, video, and the original prize for content on Good Friday.

Ms Cass said that the awards did not include television broadcasts because they were “too complicated” to produce, and to judge. Online video entries cannot exceed ten minutes. The panel is composed of previous winners, Christian media professionals, and “informed listeners”. Last year, the panel received 157 entries.

The Under-25s prize of £1000 was won this year by Ashley Woods, from All Saints’, Peckham, for her programme Nativity on the Overground. The video is described on YouTube as a “timelapse flashmob”, and uses the view of east London from a moving train as the backdrop to the journey of Mary and Joseph. Actors were at various stations en route.

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