Spark, a Sunderland-based community radio station, has picked up six accolades at the National Community Radio Awards. 

Spark – which has been on the air since 2009 and broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week – is mainly run by volunteers. The station uses cutting-edge facilities at the University of Sunderland’s Media Centre and many of its volunteers are University of Sunderland students.

The station, which broadcasts across Wearside on 107 FM, beat off competition from 350 different entries from 70 community radio stations from across the UK.

Spark won gold in the Community Development Project of the Year category for its Mackem Craic show.  

Mackem Craic – an audio drama with a supernatural edge – is presented as a radio phone-in programme. The show is made in collaboration with six community groups and three schools in Sunderland and South Tyneside.    

The station also clinched gold for Sports Show of the Year with its Sportsbyte programme as well as winning the Innovation Award for its work in building an audience using Facebook Live. 

The station won silver for its Week in Geek show (in the Entertainment Show of the Year category) and for its Dance Revolution programme (in the Specialist Music Show of the Year section). 

Spark also gained a bronze award for its Drivetime with Ryan and Beth show. Presenters Ryan and Beth Smith are cousins from Sunderland.

Speaking before the award ceremony, Ryan, 22, said, “Being from the city and as students at the university, we’re really proud that the effort we put in is recognised.”

Beth, 20, added, “We enjoy what we do on Spark so to be representing the station and the city at the awards is amazing.”

Martin Steers, the Community Radio Awards chair, said, “The 2017 Community Radio Awards has been a fantastic process. We have seen an amazing increase in engagement from the sector compared to our first year in 2016. It’s been great to have seen such a wide range of nominations.”

(Featured image courtesy of Ross Murray, from Flickr Creative Commons)

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