The Podcast Academy Golden Mics Controversy

The Podcast Academy was recently launched, and it included mention of an annual awards program called The Golden Mics. Personally, I think things could have been handled better than they were. The announcement led to some controversy.

On February 14, 2020, posted a press release on its website titled: “The Podcast Academy Launched; Annual Awards Program Announced”. Towards the top of the press release, it said: “Annual peer-based awards of merit called The Golden Mics planned for 2021.” Here is a portion of the press release:

Leaders across the podcasting community today jointly announced the formation of The Podcast Academy, a new membership-driven not-for-profit organization of independent podcasters and industry professionals dedicated to elevating awareness and excitement for podcasts as a major category and advancing knowledge and relationships in and around the business.

Supporters of the Podcast Academy’s launch include many of the world’s top producers and independents, led by founding members Donald Albright (Tenderfoot TV), Erik Diehn (Stitcher), Anya Grundman (NPR), Kerri Hoffman (PRX), Courtney Holt (Spotify), Hernan Lopez (Wondery), Christy Mirabal (Sony Music), Rekha Murthy (Independent), Lauren Spohrer (Criminal), and Alia Tavakolian (Spoke Media).

Why did this cause controversy? Here are a few reasons:

  •  Nick Quah, from Hot Pod, noted that The Podcast Academy has the same name as an Australian resource for podcasts. To me, it appears that The Podcast Academy didn’t do any research on the name they selected before announcing it.
  • Nick Quah also pointed to the Variety article about “The Oscars of Podcasting”, and pointed out that some major podcast publishers haven’t joined The Podcast Academy, including The New York Times, Entercom (which owns Cadence13 and Pineapple Street), Westwood One, Luminary, and iHeartMedia – which operates its own podcast awards.
  • Dave Jackson wrote “Did Wondery Kill The Podcaster Hall of Fame?” on Podcast Business Journal. In it, he points out that The Podcast Academy is a very similar name (and idea) to Academy of Podcasters, which began in 2015. The Academy of Podcasters would select people for the Academy of Podcasters Hall of Fame. In addition, Dave Jackson wrote: “The biggest outrage came from the announcement from Lopez via a tweet to Rob Usdin that the old Academy and Hall of Fame had been shut down.”
  • Jessica Kupferman, CEO of ShePodcasts tweeted: “I’d love to hear from @hernanlopez and @prx and @npr how they will acknowledge, if at all, the previous academy inductees. Does it just no longer exist and now we start fresh? Are they grandfathered in? All of them had over 10+ years in podcasting and achieved AMAZING things.”
  • Hernan Lopez responded with a tweet: “Hi Jessica! The new Podcast Academy has no connection with the former Academy Of Podcasters which was discontinued – just a similar name. I checked with them before moving forward with this initiative. At this point, we haven’t yet decided whether there will be a Hall of Fame /1”

Naturally, that led to some confusion about what happened to the Academy of Podcasters. Podcaster Business Journal posted an article with some explanation about that.

  •  Dan Franks, of Podcast Movement, said: “The other big question about the awards element of the new Academy. Hernan did come to use very early in the process to make sure these awards did not conflict with anything we did or were doing.” Dan Franks said “within the next 12 months we’ll have already had our next round of Hall of Famers inducted.” This makes it clear that the Hall of Fame will not be erased or ended.

Personally, I think the controversy could have been avoided if the Podcast Academy had done a few things differently. They should have spent more time making sure their choice of a name was not already being used. Someone in their group should have take a few seconds to use Google it.

I also think that Podcast Academy feels a bit rushed, but that perception could be due to what felt like a sudden announcement without any build up behind it.  I also think there is reason to be concerned that Podcast Academy didn’t understand how beloved the Hall of Fame is. What else are they going to miss the mark on?

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