Oxford MailGray and Keys net top radio award (From Oxford Mail)

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Gray and Keys net top radio award

Oxford Mail: Andy Gray and Richard Keys with their Best Sports Programme award Andy Gray and Richard Keys with their Best Sports Programme award

Football pundits Andy Gray and Richard Keys have scored a top radio award, little over a year after they disappeared from TV screens in disgrace after a sexism furore.

The pair collected the best sports programme prize for their Talksport show at the Sony Radio Academy Awards tonight, beating presenters such as Radio 5 Live's Colin Murray, for their "knowledge and professionalism".

The ceremony saw another remarkable comeback as BBC Radio 6 Music, which had been earmarked for oblivion by corporation bosses, was named UK station of the year. It is the first time a digital-only service has been given the prized accolade, beating sister station Radio 2 to the award.

Another duo was also the toast of the awards as pensioners Beryl Renwick and Betty Smith took the best entertainment programme prize at the event, often viewed as the radio industry's equivalent of the Oscars. The pair - who came to radio late in life to host a show on BBC Radio Humberside - beat stars such as Absolute Radio's Frank Skinner and 6 Music's Adam & Joe to land their gong. Beryl, 86, and Betty, 90, were described by judges as "a joyous, entertaining double act".

"They give a voice to a sector of society unrepresented on radio, and do it with a joy that puts many of their fellow broadcasters to shame," awards bosses said.

The duo were given a standing ovation by guests at the ceremony staged at London's Grosvenor House. The duo had to be helped to the stage by award presenter Robbie Savage and ceremony host Chris Evans to collect their prize.

Other major winners included commercial station Classic FM which took the "special award". The prize was in recognition of "its significant and valuable contribution to commercial radio in this its 20th anniversary year".

The triumph of 6 Music comes two years after the station's future was in the balance. A BBC strategy review had picked it out for closure but a huge backlash led to musicians, listeners and politicians rallying round the station, whose presenters include Jarvis Cocker and Mark Radcliffe.

The increased exposure as a result of the axe threat also led to a huge boost in listeners, with 700,000 in early 2010 to 1.5 million according to latest figures. The BBC Trust eventually ruled out the closure.

Award bosses said the station showed "a confidence across its schedule that not only reflects a real passion for music but also a firm understanding of the audience".

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