Honourable Pro-Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Jane Garvey for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.
Jane Garvey is an influential, award-winning and much admired figure in the world of British broadcasting. In 2017 she came in at number 7 on the Radio Times list of the 50 Best British Radio Broadcasters of all time: higher than many illustrious figures you would all recognise but I won’t name today.
She is also a daughter of the city of Liverpool. Although Jane initially wanted to be a bus conductress, her passion for radio was inspired by listening to Radio Merseyside as a teenager in her bedroom. As a professor in English myself, I like to think her degree in literature from the University of Birmingham advanced her career. I’m sure her determination and the years of hard work on local radio stations also helped. But I suspect it was these early days in her bedroom in Liverpool that really gave her the voice for which she is known today.
For Jane Garvey is, above all, a voice. She was the first voice on Radio Five Live when it was launched in 1994 and an anchor on its award-winning breakfast show for many years. As presenter of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour since 2007, the authenticity, wit and warmth of that voice make her an excellent guide through what is an extremely wide-ranging programme. (On Monday, for example, Cilla Black, Sex and Gender and Brexit were all covered in one hour!). More recently she has become one of the voices on the Fortunately podcast in conversation with Fi Glover: two women talking informally, frankly, irreverently about the big things but also the little things that matter, a programme that makes us laugh out loud. The podcast has been a runway success and was rightly awarded the Audio and Radio Industry accolade of 2018’s Funniest Show.
One of my favourite episodes is when Fi and Jane are in conversation with broadcaster and radio critic Gillian Reynolds, another Honorary Fellow of this University, another Liverpudlian. It’s hilarious to hear Jane and Gillian cackle more and more about their Scouse backgrounds, to the extent that poor Fi is completely excluded. But it’s also enthralling to listen to these women, passionate about radio as a form, debate its future with characteristic energy and intelligence. Jane is not just a fantastic radio presenter - she is a powerful advocate for the medium in which she excels: a voice for radio.
But Jane Garvey has become another kind of voice: a voice for women. She has been open about the challenges she faced meeting the demands of her career and those of a single mother. On Woman’s Hour she has been credited with bringing the programme ‘bang up to date’ in its frank, funny, sensitive, treatment of the concerns of women today. And over the past few years she has become a powerful – if perhaps less welcome in some quarters – voice for drawing attention to the gender pay gap and the inequalities which exist at the BBC but also much more broadly. It is a battle, not yet won: as Jane observed, it has been a consistent theme on Women’s House since 1946.
So Jane Garvey is a voice from Liverpool; she is a voice on and for radio; she is a voice for equality. But not just a voice; today it is a pleasure to have her here in person. In the highly successful career and through her passion, energy and commitment Jane Garvey is an inspirational role model for our students.
For her outstanding achievement in media and the spoken word, it is an honour to present her for admission as an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.