URY: Still a hit at 50

University Radio York celebrates half a century on the airwaves

Award-winning University Radio York (URY) has been a defining feature  of the experiences of tens of thousands of York students. Since 1968, the UK’s oldest independent radio station has been making waves all over campus, the city of York and beyond – and its 50th anniversary celebrations look set to do that all over again.

With around 250 members in the current University of York student community, URY is one of York’s biggest student groups and for the past half a century the station has been one of a handful in the UK run entirely by students. Year after year it has won a number of national awards from the Student Radio Association for its broadcasts, and its members have gone on to form the great and the good of the media industry.

URY has kick-started the careers of many in the media and entertainment industry including BuzzFeed TV editor Scott Bryan, BBC Newsbeat reporter Will Chalk, YouTuber and Global broadcast engineer Matt Gray and LBC news reporter and IRN Reporter of the Year nominee.

Amelie Rothwell, the Head of the URY 50th Committee, said: “URY wants to celebrate all the changes to radio broadcasting that we have witnessed over the 50 years we have been on the air.

“The station has a collection of 15,000 records as we played vinyls up until the 80s. Digitisation has occurred over the past 10 years, significantly increasing our audience – last year our annual Christmas video reached a record audience of 30,000 people through our social media. Like most other radio stations we have also had to become multiplatform. Presenters now have skills that allow them to speak, be on camera and write – there is no longer such a thing as a voice for radio!”

URY open day 1989


In 2017, URY won Gold Best Entertainment Programme for URY:PM – with presenter K Spence. Presenter Will Batchelor won the Gold Best Newcomer and Matthew Stratford won the Silver Best Newcomer and Bronze Best Technical Achievement.

Anniversary celebrations have already kicked off on campus with weekly DJ sets in campus bars such as Courtyard and a joint birthday party with Vanbrugh College, which also turns 50 this year. In addition the students are hosting karaoke nights and cocktail menus, and URY are also celebrating their successful bid for a £40,000 grant to improve the station through the Big Alumni Project. Celebrations will continue into the autumn term when URY will host a student festival.

Alumni Celebrations will also start this term on 9 June with a weekend-long reunion event that will be featured on air in a 50-hour non-stop broadcast. Alumni will be able to participate in workshops and competitions against current and past students. There will also be a formal dinner to mark the accomplishments made during their time at URY.