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Still a hit at 50: University radio celebrates half a century on the airwaves

Posted on 3 May 2018

Award-winning University Radio York (URY) is celebrating its 50th birthday. The station has been up and running since May 1968 and is believed to be one of the oldest student radio stations in the country.

The Current URY committee, Christmas 2017. Credit: URY.

The station has around 250 members in the University of York student community, with students working as presenters, producers, editors and engineering the technology that brings radio to life.

For the past half a century the station has been one of a handful in the UK run entirely by students. It has won a number of national awards from the Student Radio Association for its broadcasts.


URY has kick-started the careers of many in the media and entertainment industry including, Scott Bryan the TV editor of BuzzFeed; Will Chalk a BBC newsbeat reporter; Matt Gray, a YouTuber and broadcast engineer at Global Leicester Square, and Rachel Venables, a news reporter at LBC London nominated for IRN reporter of the year.

Amelie Rothwell, the Head of the URY 50th Committee, said: “URY wants to celebrate all the changes to radio broadcasting that we have witnessed over the 50 years we have been on the air.

“The station has a collection of 15,000 records as we played vinyls up until the 80s. Digitisation has occurred over the past 10 years, significantly increasing our audience – last year our annual Christmas video reached a record audience of 30,000 people through our social media. Like most other radio stations we have also had to become multiplatform. Presenters now have skills that allow them to speak, be on camera and write - there is no longer such a thing as a voice for radio!”


In 2017, URY won Gold Best Entertainment Programme for URY:PM – with presenter K Spence. Presenter Will Batchelor won the Gold Best Newcomer and Matthew Stratford won the Silver Best Newcomer and Bronze Best Technical Achievement.

The anniversary celebrations have already kicked off on campus with weekly DJ sets in campus bars such as Courtyard and a joint birthday party with Vanbrugh College, which also turns 50 this year. In addition the students are hosting karaoke nights and cocktail menus. Celebrations will continue into the autumn term when URY will host a student festival.

Alumni Celebrations will also start this term on 9 June with a weekend-long reunion event that will be featured on air in a 50-hour non-stop broadcast. Alumni will be able to participate in workshops and competitions against current and past students. There will also be a formal dinner to mark the accomplishments made during their time at URY.

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Shelley Hughes
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