Radio boss to turn up volume on diversity ahead of industry awards in Leeds

Britain's first black self-made woman millionaire and radio expert Dr Yvonne Thompson is coming to Leeds to turn up the volume on diversity and gender equality in the work place.

Promoted by LeedsBID
Sunday, 14th October 2018, 8:03 pm
Dr Yvonne Thompson
Dr Yvonne Thompson

She says future talent is being lost because senior management in all industries are generally not embracing diversity fast enough and it could put businesses at risk.

When she speaks the radio industry listens.

The inspirational 63-year-old grandma and mum of one is the first black women to chair the Radio Academy - acknowledged as the industry's most powerful body, dedicated to encouraging, recognising and promoting excellence in UK broadcasting and audio production.

She is also a director and founding member of the UK’s only legal black-owned radio station, Choice FM, now Capital Extra, as well as a former music editor and contributor on several music industry magazines.

Dr Thompson said: "Diversify or die. That's what I will be saying.

"Slowly but surely things are beginning to change but not really fast enough. We have to start thinking about the future and the talent that is being lost by not embracing diversity more."

And she hopes not only radio bosses will tune in to her every word, saying her headline message will apply to every boardroom when she talks at the LeedsBID two day Segue radio and audio expo - October 17 and 18 - where workshops and talks for industry experts and the public will also include radio legend Janice Long in conversation.

"Diversify or die. That's what I will be saying," says Dr Yvonne Thompson, Britain's first black self-made woman millionaire and Radio Academy chair coming to talk in Leeds

As it's grand finale, Segue will feature the prestigious Audio and Radio Industry Awards (ARIAS), at Leeds First Direct Arena on Thursday night.

TICKETS: For tickets and full details about the expo and the awards see below and visit

Dr Thompson will speak at the Cloth Hall Court at Leeds Beckett University on Thursday, October 18, at 1pm. For tickets, subject to availability - CLICK HERE.

She will offer her thoughts and insights into the diversity challenges facing the audio and radio sector.

In an exclusive chat she told us: "The race equality act came in more than 50 years ago and not a lot has changed during that time.

"A women on boards report was launched about five or six years ago and now the government is kind of moving to push for more diversity from not only gender but from a race perspective."

She added: "It's not about giving up power. Who in their right mind would want to give up power? It's about realising the loss of talent that is happening - the drainage of talent that is happening if these people are not able to compete. If they are not given the opportunity to compete in the right way.

" What I'm saying applies across Industries in the UK. But, when you think about radio and audio, it attracts the young - they love their music and the chat. We need to think about how we can bring the young talent along with us.

"Radio has a lot of competition with all the online things going on like YouTube and Facebook - you can find audio on all of those different platforms. So if we are really looking to keep radio alive, we have to think about how we can be creative, how we can be more accepting to a wider audience and more inclusive.

"There's a lot of different statistics done by some of the leading consultancy firms that shows the changing global trends, The world is becoming so global. Some people are trying to hold back bit like King Canute trying to hold back the waves. It's just not going to happen."

She says her message applies to all board rooms but believes the radio and audio industry could be a beacon to lead the way to positive changes.

Dr Thompson said: "Why shouldn't we be one of the leading the way. We are a communications industry,

"I hope to kind of shake up the audience. I don't know what they're expecting. I think just out of curiosity a lot of them will turn up and and I hope that works because we need them in the room to get that message across. I'm not going to hold back. I am going to tell it as it is and it will be interesting to see what Q&A comes out of it.

"But I think for me success will be how many people are actually in the room. And the second part of it will be what happens when they leave the room - will they just walk out and forget about it?

" I hope to give them something that they can go back and put into action straight away."

Dr Thompson is also president and founder of WinTrade Week - a global women in business network - as well as having chaired many governmental committees and the Women’s Diplomatic Service Network,

She speaks at conferences around the world including recent trips to Atlanta, Las Vegas and this week is addressing 1,000 women at a legal conference in New York.

She said she is impressed to see a global change in attitudes including forward-thinking views in the Middle East - saying of a recent trip to speak at a women's conference in Oman: "It's just totally changed my perception of the Muslim religion, women and men,.

"I can't tell you how much how much I was impressed. They are absolutely amazing people."



3pm to 4.30pm: How to Write a Radio Hit - Martin Sutton, Founder of the Songwriting Academy will offer a guide to budding songwriters on how to create hit songs for the radio, from the spark of creation to producing a record ready for the charts. Venue: Rooftop Bar. Book your ticket - CLICK HERE.

5pm to 6.30pm: PPL in Session: An Introduction to PPL - a free PPL tutorial coverng a variety of topics plus a Q&A session with members of the team, with the opportunity to speak on a one-to-one basis with one of the PPL Member Services team after the session, as well as network with other attendees. Early booking is advised as spaces are limited. Venue: The Auditorium. Book your ticket - CLICK HERE.7.15pm to 9pm: Does Radio Have Passion For Music? - Stephanie Hirst (BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Radio Manchester) hosts a panel discussion with Wyatt Wendels (Planet Rock), Ant Arthur (Radio Aire) and others to be announced, to tackles a wide range of subjects from getting your music played on the radio to finding passion when the playlist offers little flexibility as well as finding out what drives a specialist presenters' music choices. Local band Citrus Heights and the Overtones will perform live. Venue: The Auditorium. Book your ticket - CLICK HERE.


9am to 4.30pm: Radio and Audio Fair - Hosted by David 'Dixie' Dixon (Heart Yorkshire, Communicorp UK) with industry panels, keynote speakers, masterclasses, networking sessions and a careers guide at Segue. First come, first served in the rooms so be prompt and get your seat in good time. Tickets free. Venue: Cloth Hall Court.

9am: Radiocentre's Tuning In Conference - Tuning In will provide Yorkshire and North East audiences with the chance to hear about the latest trends and opportunities in the rapidly evolving world of radio and audio. Speakers will include Bauer's Managing Director of Radio Dee Ford, Global's Regional Creative Director Simon Forster and Founder and MD of Radioplayer, Michael Hill. The event will provide delegates with insights into the latest in creativity and binaural sound and an update on Radiocentre's latest research and how advertisers can capitalise on the audio revolution. Venue: Tweed Suite. Book your ticket - CLICK HERE.

1pm: Diversity and Equal Opportunities - Chair of the Radio Academy, Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE who will offer her thoughts and insights into the diversity challenges facing the audio and radio sector. There will also be an open Q&A session. Venue: Tweed Suite. Book your ticket - CLICK HERE.

12.30pm: Arqiva’s Radio Innovation Forum (by invitation only) - Arqiva hosts it’s commercial radio customers for the latest Innovation Forum which will cover a range of topics, including: an update on wireless connectivity to the hilltop, MPX over IP, service following as well as an overview of our research looking at a comparison of 4G and DAB performance. This event is by invitation only. Venue: Denim Room.

2pm: Beyond Genius - A Rare Glimpse of Larry and Paul - Join David 'Dixie' Dixon (Heart Yorkshire, Communicorp UK) with radio Gods Larry & Paul. A frank 45 minute discussion about their stratospherically successful careers in Saturday lunch time BBC Local Radio, and their move into unbridled comic and satirical platinum with their unbelievably successful online comedy sketches - which have reached upwards of 230 views on Facebook and Youtube combined. This event will likely be over-subscribed, so you must book in advance. Venue: Wool Room. Book your ticket - CLICK HERE.

2.45pm: Everything You Need To Know About Sports Broadcasting - Have you ever wondered what it takes to cover one of the biggest sporting events in world? Or how commentators bring a game to life? Join Pete Farries (William Hill, UEFA, DAZN) as he talks to Jonny Buchan (Editor, BBC Radio Leeds Sport), Rosanna Prada (Broadcast Engineer, DAZN, Perform Group) and Tanya Arnold (Sports Reporter and Presenter, BBC Sport and BBC Look North) as they take you through day to day life in the industry as well as dishing out advice to help you get your foot in the door. Venue: Wool Room. Book your ticket - CLICK HERE.

3.30pm: David Lloyd in conversation with Janice Long - Graduating quickly from her days in BBC local radio in Liverpool in the late seventies through to becoming the first woman to have her own daily Radio 1 show and host Top of the Pops, Janice Long has stories to tell. In commercial radio, she was involved in the foundations for Xfm and Crash FM; and her passion for promoting new music has been heard across the BBC on Radio 2, 6 Music, 5 Live, and local radio in London and Birmingham – and now on BBC Wales. In this live edition of #Radiomoments ‘Conversations’, she opens up to David Lloyd about life, music – and radio. Venue: Tweed Suite. Book your ticket - CLICK HERE.


6pm till late: The ARIAS 2018 - The biggest celebration of sound around returns to Leeds' first direct arena. The ARIAS, The Audio & Radio Industry Awards, will recognise the UK's finest radio and audio talent by revealing the winners of 2018's 20+ categories recognising, whilst delivering an incredible line-up of entertainment. Venue: Leeds First Direct Arena. Book your ticket - CLICK HERE.