Charles Parker Radio Days

The Centre for Broadcasting History Research at Bournemouth University established Charles Parker Day to celebrate not only Charles Parker and his work, but the radio feature itself, its past, present and future. The first Charles Parker Day was held in 2004 in Bournemouth (his birthplace) on his birthday, 5 April, and included the launch of the first Charles Parker prize.

The 2021 Charles Parker Day has been cancelled, but there will be a short online ceremony on Friday 23 April when the winners of the Charles Parker Prize will be announced.

In 2020 the Charles Parker Day was also cancelled.  Instead, there was a special online event on Tuesday 8 December 2020 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Charles Parker’s death.  The event focussed on the launch of the 2021 Charles Parker Prize for the Best Student Radio Feature, and celebrated his legacy through interviews with previous prizewinners and others whose lives he changed.  A video of the event is available here.

See below for information about earlier Parker Days:
2019 | 2018 | 20172016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 |
20112010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004

The Centenary Charles Parker Day returned to Bournemouth, the town where he was born exactly 100 years ago on 5 April 1919.  Here are links to some photos, to read an account of the Day or listen to a radio version.

The 2018 Charles Parker Day took place on Friday 23 March at the British Library, and celebrated the Radio Ballads and beyond.  Here’s an account of the day, and a link to some photos.

The 2017 Charles Parker Day took place on Friday 7 April at Sheffield Hallam University Students Union, and celebrated 50 years of Local Radio – BBC Radio Sheffield was the second station to come on air.  Here’s an account of the day, and a link to some photos.

The 2016 Charles Parker Day was held on Friday 18 March at the University of the West of England in Bristol, and took “stories” as its theme.  Here’s an account of the Day, and a link to photos taken by Mike Hale.

The twelfth Charles Parker Day was held on Friday 27 March 2015 in the centenary year of Ewan MacColl’s birth at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts.  Here is an account of the Day’s events.

The eleventh Charles Parker Day took place on Friday 4 April 2014 in the Studio Theatre at the new Library of Birmingham, with a concert the same evening at the CBSO Centre.  Here is a brief report of the Day, an account of the concert, and some photographs of the event.

The tenth Parker Day was held on 22 March 2013 at Salford University, Salford Quays.  As it was the 50th anniversary of both On The Edge (about teenagers) and The Fight Game (about boxing) the event celebrated young people and sport on radio.  Here is a brief report of the Day and a link to some photos.

The ninth Parker Day was held on 30 March 2012 at the University of Westminster and celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Body Blow – see full report by Andy Cartwright

The eighth Charles Parker Day celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Big Hewer, the Radio Ballad about the mining industry, and was held in Newcastle-upon-Tyne – a city partly built on the profits of coal.  Click here for a full report and here for an audio report from the Radio Academy.

The seventh Charles Parker Day was hosted by the University of Sunderland and organised by Andy Cartwright at the National Glass Centre. See full report from Sean Street.

The sixth Parker Day was held on 3 April 2009 at the National Media Museum, Bradford – see full report from Sean Street.

The fifth Parker Day was held on 4 April 2008 at the Miramar Hotel in Bournemouth, organised by the Centre for Broadcasting History Research. It celebrated the fiftieth anniversary – in July 2008 – of the first Radio Ballad – The Ballad of John Axon.  Click here for Sean Street’s report, including two audio clips.

The fourth Parker Day was held on 30 March 2007 at the University of Central England. Speakers included Ben Harker (the official biographer of Ewan MacColl), folk culture archivist Doc Rowe and documentary specialist Prof Bert Hogenkamp.  See report from Sean Street.

The third Parker Day was held in Bournemouth on 7 April 2006. Speakers included both academics and practitioners. Gillian Reynolds opened proceedings with an over-view of the Charles Parker Archive Trust and its work, followed by Sian Roberts, who gave an exciting presentation about the development of the Connecting Histories project. BBC producer Kate MCall talked about Norman Corwin, the veteran American producer, whose programme, The Lonesome Train had influenced Parker in terms of style, and Graeme Miles brought the spirit of Charles himself to life in a moving and amusing talk in which he painted a vivid picture of working on some of the programmes which followed The Radio Ballads. Ken Hall, from the University of Teeside provided valuable discussion relating to Parker’s work beyond the Radio Ballads, while Seán Street discussed vernacular radio and community, with special reference to CBC Radio’s Newfoundland-based Fisheries Broadcast.

A central part of the afternoon – and a highlight of the day – was a two-handed presentation by Sara Parker and John Tams, in which they talked through the making of the six new Radio Ballads, recently broadcast on Radio 2. The sense of reflection by practitioners on a process on which – in John Tams’ words “the ink was barely dry”, made for fascinating insights. Andy Cartwright of Soundscape Productions took delegates through the process of his innovative radio feature, Then – Now, broadcast in January; this carried the spirit of Charles Parker’s “gathering” into a new age – the recording of a single agreed minute by more than 100 recordists all over Britain, to create a sound poem made up of a murmur of voices – “people greeting people who they’ll never, ever know.”

The second Charles Parker Day was celebrated in Birmingham, where much of his work was carried out, in conjunction with the University of Central England Department of Media and Communication and as part of Banner Theatre’s 30th anniversary celebrations from 8-9 April.  See programme for the joint Parker/Banner event

The first Charles Parker Day was organised by Bournemouth University’s Centre for Broadcasting History Research. The conference was held in Bournemouth (Parker’s birthplace) on his birthday, 5 April, and included the launch of the first Charles Parker prize.

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