Charles Parker Day 2018

Named after the innovative radio producer, the Charles Parker Day is held each year in a different city, and on Friday 23 March 2018 it came to the British Library.  You will find some images of the event, courtesy of Michael Stevens of Pharos Photography, also some photos from Graham Langley.

60 years ago Charles Parker worked alongside the musicians Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger to produce the first of a series of ground-breaking and highly influential radio features, the Radio Ballads.  The 2018 Charles Parker Day examined the influence of these ballads on radio feature-making and the power of personal oral testimony.  

Participants were welcomed by Mary Kalemkerian, chair of the Charles Parker Trust, Andy Cartwright, producer of the conference, and Mary Stewart, curator of Oral History at the British Library.

The Ballads Begin: Peggy Seeger, one of the original creators of the Radio Ballads, joined Peter Cox to tell the story of the making of The Ballad of John Axon, the first Radio Ballad, 60 years ago. 

Beyond the Ballads: The Authentic Voice: In the spirit of Charles Parker’s chronicling of the lived experiences of ordinary men and women, speakers reflected on two major BBC projects capturing such voices in the years since his death. The Century Speaks was a millennial enterprise to record the history of the 20th century by those who lived it; The Listening Project continues to bend an ear to ordinary pairs of people with something unique to communicate. And in each case, those unique pieces of personal oral history have ended up for posterity in the British Library.  With contributions from    producers Marya Burgess, Helen Lloyd and Matthew Linfoot. 

The Charles Parker Prize Nominations: Chair of this year’s judging panel, Simon Elmesintroduced the five shortlisted nominees for this year’s Charles Parker Prize for the Best Student Audio Feature. 

Beyond the Ballads: Sampling Audio: In the late 2000s music producer Broadcaster (aka Lewis Atkinson) sampled the original radio ballads to create dance track versions. Ewan and Peggy’s son Calum MacColl joined Lewis to show how they did it. 

Beyond the Ballads: Composing Audio: Multi-award winning radio producer Alan Hall explored and demonstrated the influence of the Radio Ballads on his own ‘composed’ radio features. 

The Charles Parker Prize Winners: Simon Elmes announced the winners of the 2018 Bronze, Silver and Gold awards and they were presented with a Roberts Radio and other prizes.  

Beyond the Ballads: New Production Talent:  Former Charles Parker Prize Winner Hana Walker Brown explained her own take on the radio ballad, The Ballad of Hessle Road. 

Beyond the Ballads: New Audio Talent: Somethin’ Else’s Executive Producer Ami Bennett described new ways of making audio features for Radio 1. 

Searching for The Travelling People: For the past few years Rural Media have been working with travellers using the original voices recorded by Charles, Ewan and Peggy for their final Radio Ballad The Travelling People, and making new recordings.  A new film documenting part of this project was introduced by Damian Le Bas. 

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.  More information here

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