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The Podcast Academy launches: the speech, the Q and A, the reaction

February 17, 2020 · 5.9 minutes to read

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Christy: “I want everyone in this room to participate. I want everyone in this room to go out and talk to people that they are connected with every single day in this community and get them to participate. We were very careful to ensure that independents have a voice … the entire community of everybody in this room has a voice on this board.”

Hernan: “In addition to the board being a majority of women from the beginning, we wanted the board to be equally representative of people who work at companies like Wondery or PRX, and independent voices. We are very mindful of geographical representation - we still don’t have the entire board complete, and we are looking for more independent voices. We haven’t decided yet whether it’s open for non-US (we have to be mindful for the legalities) but that is one of the first things we’ll decide.”

Alia: “Anyone who is rooted in this industry and who has worked in it for a certain amount of time, will be able to join The Podcast Academy”

Hernan: “You need to have credits - a similar model to the television industry - whether you’re a writer, or a director, or a host … it’s going to be a simple application process. We’ll ask what you have worked on in the last two years, and we’ll ask for two references to make sure you’re professional and not a bot. Anyone can register their interest on the website now: there will be a cost to be confirmed later on, but we’re thinking around US$100 - that’s one quarter of other academies.”

Christy: “We want to make something that everyone can join”.

Kerri: “The openness of podcasting is something that will hopefully continue throughout this process. One of the great things about podcasting is that excellence is not centrally sourced - it comes from many, many places - and the more open it is, it really strengthens the whole ecosystem.”


Reaction to The Podcast Academy’s launch has been extremely divisive: particularly fuelled by an assumption that this was related to the Hall of Fame; but also from sloppy reporting by the entertainment industry trades, and a feeling that independents are being ignored.

In a well-written thread, podcaster Elsie Escobar (Libsyn, She Podcasts) posted a long thread in response, highlighting her initial confusion and identifying that she spoke at first without having the facts, but noting that long-term podcasters “are systematically overlooked and erased by legacy coastal media and the reporting,” criticising Bloomberg’s coverage which claims that podcasting was “born in the halls of public radio”.

(Podnews would like to take time out to mention that podcasting was not “born in the halls of public radio”. #notallreporters)

Daniel J Lewis (My Podcast Reviews) says: “I was too hasty to judge the new The Podcast Academy based on one journalist’s coverage. The more I read, the more I like it and I think indies should jump in.”

While we’re talking corrections, Hernan Lopez tells Podnews: In the speech I mistakenly said that there hasn’t been any award ceremony that’s peer-based. Some people pointed to the People’s Choice Podcast Awards. I’m sorry for that oversight. (Podnews is a sponsor).

Edison Research’s Tom Webster, writing personally, notes that he “spent some time chatting with podcasters at Podcast Movement Evolutions this week” and “came back not energized, but a little disturbed”. He notes that independents feel powerless and ignored; and that he was part of a previous attempt at an association, the Association for Downloadable Media. “It just petered out,” he said. “In retrospect, I think that was a big mistake … I hope [The Podcast Academy] becomes the big tent that the ADM failed to be.”

Chris Curran says: “I’m happy to give it a chance.”

Jack Rhysider (Darknet Diaries) tells Podnews: “It’s going to be a lot of work to judge all the submissions. But I’m looking forward to seeing this in 2021.”

Blubrry CEO Todd Cochrane writes: “My initial thoughts on ‘The Podcast Academy’ is that they have significant work ahead to not disenfranchise Indie podcasters! The initial impression has caused a lot of raised eyebrows. For now I’ll watch and see!”

Rob Greenlee from Libsyn writes: “How about all the medium’s founding/influential podcasters, production, hosting companies that are missing … just so many missing on being asked to join initially. We need to build this in an open way and not in secret.” He adds, apparently after a conversation: “I appreciate Hernan Lopez for his willingness [to] step up and take a leadership role and to work on a goal of making the Podcast Academy and the new awards truly representative on board of governance of the whole podcasting community.”

Podcast host Teri Finneman wrote at the event: “How exciting to be here for the Podcast Academy and Golden Mic announcements.”

Rick Savoia adds: “I’m all for a podcaster’s association, but IMHO this isn’t it. No, this is not a good thing for the podcast community. Beware. The elites are taking over. Do you see any indie podcasters on [the board]? I don’t. All I see are big media moguls. Don’t let the ”Independent" fool you. She came from Public Radio, and not as an intern, either."

Brett Johnson (Circle270Media) tells Podnews: “It’s amazing the backlash this announcement has created, especially from the podcasting Old Guard. But I don’t see those who feel their awards were “erased” suggesting or offering support to current alternatives to this. Easy to complain, harder to create a solution.”

In an ugly side to the debate, we understand a number of podcasters were registering a set of related domain names during the announcement, and were heard bragging to others about how many they’d bought by the end of the Q&A. (This behaviour is illegal.)

And finally, Dave Jackson (Libsyn, School of PodCasting) publicly links to The Podcast Academy website with the words This is BS.

We’ve opened comments on this page, if you’d like to add to the discussion.


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