Podcasters want an awards show, so they’re trying to start one

The film industry has the Oscars, and the music industry has the Grammys, so the podcast industry wants its own awards show. A group of industry leaders spanning networks, including from Spotify, NPR, Wondery, and Sony Music, announced today that they plan to launch a new awards show: the Golden Mics. The group has also formed the Podcast Academy, a membership-driven not-for-profit organization whose members will vote on Golden Mics winners. The group says it’ll start accepting applications this spring, and the first show will be in Los Angeles next year.

As more companies invest in their own shows, particularly long-form narrative programming, creators want recognition for their work — understandably. A podcast awards show makes sense, although it might provide creators with a bragging point more than outsized attention. Technically, a podcast awards show already exists: iHeartRadio launched its own awards show in 2019 as a way to honor quality shows, but people in the industry found it fishy that the network nominated its own shows for awards and subsequently won them. These new awards are clearly a rejection of that idea, and no one from iHeart is a Podcast Academy founding member.

But a new awards show launch doesn’t mean people will automatically care or respect them. The Oscars, Grammys, and Golden Globes are well-known (and, in the Oscars’ case, nearly 100 years old). Audiences already revere them. Plus, they come with the spectacle of well-known celebrity hosts and musical acts.

The podcasting industry is different. There aren’t many well-known names that could draw a crowd, and unlike music, film, or TV, most publications don’t employ official podcast reviewers. The press machine isn’t well-oiled for podcast coverage. Discovering shows can be difficult, too, without many tastemakers in the space.

The Golden Mics could be an opportunity to call attention to the best of audio, or it might end up just giving shows a chance to send out a press release in the hopes that people pay attention. Starting an awards show is a first step to bringing more prestige and press to the industry, but the rest of the media machine has to work in tandem for the awards to grab more of people’s time and respect.