Fri 12 Dec, 2023

The Prison Radio Association’s highlights of 2023

We were honoured to win a silver award in the Audio Production Awards coveted Production Company of the Year last month. To celebrate, we’ve put together an Advent Calendar featuring some of our audio highlights from 2023.

During 2023 we’ve produced thousands of programmes with scores of partners, including a flagship series for BBC Radio 4, a gold award-winning podcast, a home for talented vocalists and rappers in prison, documentaries, interviews, music shows and drama.

We’ve spotted talented presenters and producers inside the walls of His Majesty’s prisons and helped them to reach their potential. We’ve provided employment to people who’ve been released from prison, provided training and helped get them noticed by the wider creative industries.

We’ve provided financial advice and legal education to people behind bars, we’ve made series designed to support people who’ve spent time in the armed forces before coming to prison, we’ve developed programming for people who’ve been in care and people whose offending is related to gambling.

We’ve covered literature – working with partners to broadcast audiobooks and offering free copies of our broadcast titles to listeners in prison. We’ve provided feedback and encouragement to vocalists and lyricists who record their performances down prison phones to our voicemail service.

We’ve supported people with healthcare information and advice, and with programming designed to help people kick their substance misuse. And we’ve provided emotional support through the night at moments when our listeners in prison are often at their most vulnerable.

And we’ve provided entertainment and laughter in an environment where both are in short supply, because we know that starting the day in a positive frame of mind can help our listeners tackle the important work they need to do on themselves while they’re in prison.

So here are 24 highlights from 2023 for you to enjoy as we approach Christmas.

December 124 Hours of National Prison Radio in Two Minutes.

We broadcast programmes into prison cells across England and Wales designed to support and inspire people in prison to change, and to reduce harm.

December 2Baroness Benjamin

We were honoured to welcome Floella Benjamin to the National Prison Radio studios in HMP Brixton for this year’s Black History Month.

Listen to her explain why she didn’t used to approve of Black History Month … but now she does.

December 3 National Prison Radio’s Rock Show

Host James Phillips weaves surreal dramas, making a music show unlike any other, anywhere. He won a Radio Academy Gold award last year for his work.

Listen to hear why the Rock Show Family loves him.

December 4 Behind the Crime on BBC Radio 4

Sally Tilt and Dr Kerensa Hocken are forensic psychologists who interview people who’ve been to prison…

Listen to the story of Sinem, a prison officer, who was caught smuggling drugs into jail.

December 5Free Flow with Lady Unchained

We play the beats. Listeners write the words. Poet and presenter Lady Unchained gives her feedback. A simple format, delivered to perfection in partnership with the Shannon Trust.

Chequez – a Free Flow graduate!

December 6Books Unlocked with National Literacy Trust and Booker Prize Foundation

Every night at 11pm we broadcast audiobooks into prison cells across England and Wales. Listeners can write to us for a free copy of the title.

Promo for Oh William by Elizabeth Strout – the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge, My Name Is Lucy Barton, Anything is Possible, and other novels.

December 7 Hold or Fold, funded by Gamble Aware

We support people whose offending is linked to gambling with a radio show hosted by two brilliant presenters who were previously in prison – Steve and Ben.

Listen to the impact of gambling on Ben’s family.

December 8Professor Benjamin Zephaniah on National Prison Radio, 2010

“Poetry is to prose what dancing is to walking.”

December 9 Edith with Crowded Room

Edith Thompson was executed in HMP Holloway in January 1923. 100 years later to the night, we broadcast this drama, with reflections on how the case might be seen today.

How safe does the guilty verdict look today?

December 10A Proposal For Resisting Darkness in collaboration with Clean Break

A drama scripted in HMP Downview by the brilliant Clean Break Theatre Company, which we produced in audio format.

Here is a sneak peek…

December 11 Life After Prison

Life After Prison talks to Zak’s old padmate.

Our podcast for people who’ve left prison has seen some intense conversations.

Gasconi talks about the birth of his son … the day before his hearing.

December 12Down, Not Out with The Orwell Prize/Centre For Homelessness Impact

To launch the Orwell Prize for Reporting Homelessness, we hosted this brilliant series on our Secret Life of Prisons podcast feed.

Paddy O’Connell interviews Kadeem days after release from prison.

December 13Behind Bars – Live from Libreria London

To mark the publication of Lady Unchained’s book Behind Bars, we produced a special show featuring music and lyrics inside and outside jail.

A powerful performance from the brilliant Aliyah Ali.

December 14 At Ease with the Armed Convenant Trust

Hosted by Rich Jones this is a unique series for people in prison who have previously been in the armed forces. Thank you to the guys at HMP Holme House.

Gary talks movingly about survivors guilt.

December 15Zak and Jules from Life After Prison win GOLD at the Radio Academy ARIAS

Demonstrating that there is truly Life After Prison, our brilliant podcast hosts win Best New Presenter.

Listen to how National Prison Radio reported the news…

December 16Porridge: National Prison Radio’s breakfast show with Ali

Ali’s job is to help listeners start their day in a positive frame of mind. He won Silver at the Audio Production Awards this year.

This daily feature is a favourite among his listeners.

December 17International Women’s Day with Power Play Productions and Daddyless Daughters

We asked women in HMP Styal to write letters to their younger selves for broadcast on National Prison Radio.

Lady Unchained soothes her younger soul and gives some good advice.

December 18 Money Mondays podcast and radio show

Our weekly show hosted by Zak from Life After Prison and Emma from Clean Slate answers listeners’ questions about money, debt and banking.

Listen to Emma telling us the eye-watering amount of benefits that go unclaimed each year!

December 19The Longford Lecture

We broadcast the annual Longford Lecture into prison cells across England and Wales via National Prison Radio. This year’s was a barnstormer from Rory Stewart.

Listen to the show’s opening and a clip from Rory’s lecture.

December 20Jerelle’s journey

From producing radio behind bars, to assistant producer at BBC 1xtra.

Listen to Jerelle talk about his journey from prison to the BBC.

“Everything I learnt about radio was through prison radio.”

December 21Love Bug

Love Bug is our radio show dedicated to playing love songs and ballads that encourage people in prison to think of and reach out to loved ones.

Listen to a snippet from Kadeem’s recent show…

December 22Takeover Tuesdays

Tuesdays are Takeover Days on National Prison Radio. We visit a different prison every week and record a whole days worth of programming with the people housed there.

Jules and Lady Unchained discuss visiting their old prisons…

December 23Thought of the Day with Kurupt FM

Kurupt FM bring you some inspirational words on our daily breakfast show Porridge.

December 24Soch on National Prison Radio

Ali entertains fellow NPR colleagues with his hilarious honey story.

Listen and enjoy the many laughs…

Merry Christmas from everyone here at National Prison Radio.