A brush with death leads to a national award

Peter 'Jordy' Cernik with his award in New York.
Peter 'Jordy' Cernik with his award in New York.

A dad’s brush with death has led him to clinch an international award.

Peter ‘Jordy’ Cernik’s project, which recounted his own experience of dying, has been recognised globally at a prestigious international radio festival.

To win an award is not only a great honour, but it can also open up a great deal of doors

Peter Cernik

He 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, who lives in Jarrow with his family, 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 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.”

The dad-of-two, who has Cushing’s syndrome, said: “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.

“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.”

It is the second year running that the University of Sunderland has been recognised among 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.