'Getting out' is secret to Century Radio success

A winning streak at Century Radio in the north-west of England is down to a year of original, campaigning journalism, according to its head of news.

James Rea, who was previously a duty editor on Radio 1’s Newsbeat, said the Guardian Media Group station’s hat trick of prizes at the Independent Radio News awards was due to its focus on getting out in its region.

‘The north-west is a mouth watering patch for any journalist,’he said. ‘But in the last 10 years, Century’s had very little news success.’

Rea said that changes made over the past year were having an effect.

‘We’re on location, we’re living our patch,’he said. ‘We’re not just reacting to the daily diet of police check calls and press releases. I just wanted to move away from the news beat handed to reporters.”

Century Radio won IRN scoop of the year for its interview with a witness who saw the gunman open fire on murdered schoolboy Rhys Jones.

Sean Woods picked up the news reporter of the year accolade, and the station also picked up best news programme for its gun crime special in the aftermath of the Rhys Jones murder.

Rea praised the 14-strong news team at GMG Radio in Manchester, which produces almost 100 news bulletins a day for Century Radio, Smooth Radio and Rock Radio plus four longer news bulletins.

Rea, who previously worked at GMG’s Real Radio in Yorkshire, returned to commercial radio last year after an eight-month stint with the BBC, to build the group’s news teams across its five UK bases in London, the east and west Midlands, the north-west and Glasgow.

Century is nominated in the news categories of the Sony Radio Awards, due to be announced on 12 May.

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