North East Connected

Brush with Death Inspires Global Success

spark largeA student’s project recounting his own experience of dying has been recognised globally at a prestigious international radio festival alongside two other North East success stories.

Peter ‘Jordy’ Cernik claimed Bronze at the New York Festivals World’s Best Radio Programs awards for his work Both Sides of Dying – a look back at a time when he was on life support because of a rare brain condition.

The 40-year-old University of Sunderland graduate shared the success with final year Broadcast Media Production student Richard Lee, who also won Bronze for his documentary on ADHD, and the University’s radio station Spark FM, which claimed Silver in the Best Student Radio Station category.

Peter Cernik said: “I would like to say my piece was a creative work of art, but to be honest it was a way of bringing closure to a hard, anxious and scary part of our lives. The piece is a two way look at the time I died due to a rare condition which caused my brain sack to burst.

“After days on life support my body gave up and I died, but thanks to great doctors I was resuscitated. All the time my wife had to not only watch her husband on life support, but also try to keep the family together as we have two young girls.

“It was not until I started studying for my Masters that the idea came up. So I asked my wife to sit in the studio and talk about all her memories and feeling from that time. Once she was finished I did the same. That year it was awarded Silver in the Charles Parker Prize and then went on to win Gold at the Student Radio Awards.”

It is the second year running that the University of Sunderland has been recognised amongst the work of stations, networks, and independent producers from around the globe. Both Peter and Richard travelled to New York to collect their awards in person.

Richard Berry, Academic Manager for Spark FM, said: “We’re fortunate that the University has invested in radio and media and winning is an endorsement of that support. We have great connections with the industry and I know they are impressed with the station’s output.”

Peter, from Jarrow, added: “The New York international radio awards are recognised across the world and respected by the top names in media and radio broadcasting, with companies including the BBC and Bauer entering. To win an award is not only a great honour, but it can also open up a great deal of doors.

“The University of Sunderland shaped the way I look at telling a story. Over my year there I was able to produce, record, and present a show from the middle of the Arctic Circle, and start an outreach program to go into local schools and help them create their own broadcasts.”

To find out more about the New York Festivals visit

For more information on the University of Sunderland’s student media channels visit

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