Like just about every awards show in 2020, the Radio Mercury Awards have been forced to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic. Naturally, that means holding a virtual event instead of the traditional face-to-face ceremony in New York. But more importantly, the competition is “pivoting to recognize this moment in time,” says Robin Fitzgerald, Chief Creative Officer of agency BBDO Atlanta and Chief Judge of the 2020 awards. “The Radio Mercury Awards is wrapping their arms around this moment in time and celebrating the work that is rising to the challenge.

“I think it’s a very appropriate thing for radio to do because radio to me is a right-now medium, a right now platform,” Fitzgerald said in a video message with Erica Farber, President and CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau, who chairs the awards. “Radio is of the moment. I don’t think there is a better platform to create a time capsule of this moment from March to August of the work that’s being created now,” Fitzgerald added.

Originally scheduled for June 4, organizers in late March pushed back the awards competition to Oct. 6 at Sony Hall in New York City. The show will still take place on that date but as a livestream event at 7pm eastern.

There’s also a new mission statement for this year: “The 2020 Radio Mercury Awards will offer a capsule of the creative activity taking place now – the best ideas turned into radio and audio – authentic, honest, humorous and inspiring,” the statement reads. “It is work that is both a storyteller and a story-doer.”

In addition, no prize monies or trophies will be given out this year. Current Radio Mercury Awards entrants will have their work automatically moved into the 2021 competition. Additionally, 2020 winners will be automatically entered into the 2021 competition.

Submissions to the 2020 Radio Mercury Awards are free and open to agencies, advertisers, radio stations/groups, production companies and students.

There will be a total of 12 winners in nine categories: “Best Creative Radio Spot,” “Best Brand Action Spot,” “Best Spot for a Cause,” “Best Use of Humor in a Spot,” “Best DIY Radio Spot,” “Best Use of Audio,” “Best Use of Sound/Music,” “Best Radio Station/Group Promotional Spot” and “Best Student Radio Script.”

“The Radio Mercury Awards has a long-lasting heritage and reputation in recognizing outstanding radio creative,” Farber said in a press release “The advertising and radio industries have put a lot of heart and soul into serving their consumers during COVID-19, and we are looking forward to honoring the excellence of the creative community.”

Organizers have also announced a new slate of categories for the 2020, including:

  • Best Creative Radio Spot: A broadcast radio commercial that creatively communicates an advertiser’s services and values. There are three awards in this category.
  • Best Brand Action Spot: Broadcast radio spot created for a for-profit advertiser to promote their actions towards common good.
  • Best Spot for a Cause: A broadcast spot for a non-profit organization, cause related effort or PSA that engages an audience through education. There are two awards in this category.
  • Best Use of Humor in a Spot: A broadcast spot that utilizes humor.
  • Best DIY Radio Spot: A broadcast radio spot that was created or produced in an unconventional way.
  • Best Use of Audio: Non-broadcast audio work from radio stations, agencies and advertisers e.g. podcasts, radio pop-up stations etc.
  • Best Use of Sound/Music: Broadcast or non-broadcast work that uses original song(s) or musical compositions.
  • Best Radio Station/Group Promotional Spot: A broadcast radio spot that promotes the station/group’s cause-related or nonprofit efforts.
  • Best Student Radio Script: Student entrants will receive a creative brief and write a script based on the brief. The winning student script will be produced by a partner production company and will then be showcased on the Radio Mercury Awards site.