PodPod’s first annual Faces To Watch list is finally out, and you couldn’t wish for a more talented and impressive collection of audio trailblazers. Our initial cohort includes 30 of the most innovative and exciting podcast industry professionals, from producers and hosts to account managers and sales professionals. There’s no ranking within the list - everyone who made the cut is equally worthy, and all should be extremely proud of themselves and the work they’ve done to put themselves on the map.
We started working on PodPod’s first Faces To Watch list six months ago, and it’s been a real labour of love. Our expert judges sifted through a total of more than 100 entries from organisations big and small (including independents and freelancers), and whittling the candidates down to just 30 was a tricky job; almost all of the entries we received were enormously impressive, and it was a tough call to narrow them down.
The quality of the entries speaks to the outstanding level of talent and dedication that pervades all sectors of the podcast industry, but I was particularly glad to see a number of professionals in the final list representing the business side of podcasting. While strong creativity and compelling content are essential, it’s worth remembering that podcasting as a medium needs to make money in order to survive and grow - and talented advertising executives are a key part of this ecosystem.
It was also interesting to see how many people on the list came through grassroots initiatives like the Roundhouse’s Transmission programme. It underscores the importance of keeping opportunities like this open, accessible and properly funded so that young people have a viable route to start building careers in the audio industry. Many of our Faces To Watch 2023 winners also cut their teeth working for the BBC in various capacities, highlighting the key role the organisation plays as a pipeline for audio production and podcast industry talent.
Another element that struck me about this year’s list is the spirit of community it highlights, and the desire to lift others up which makes podcasting such a rewarding medium to work in. Entries to the scheme are based on third-party nominations; meaning that rather than submitting yourself, you have to be nominated by a colleague or industry contact. In addition to people being submitted by their managers in recognition of their hard work, we saw a significant number of submissions from people who didn’t work directly with their chosen nominee and were driven to put them forward based solely on respect and admiration.
This atmosphere of genuine collaboration and mutual support is something that I’ve noticed throughout the podcast industry: across the board, everyone who works in podcasting is eager to help others and share their knowledge and expertise. Part of the reason we’ve been able to produce so much engaging and insightful content on PodPod is that everyone from major industry figures to small independents has been extremely generous with their time, and it’s this generosity that creates such a strong culture of mentorship within the industry.
This mentorship has continually accelerated the development of new talent within podcasting, and has benefitted many of our Faces To Watch 2023 winners. It’s allowed them to reach new heights, expanding their own skills and delivering value to their organisations and clients. Podcasting has come a long way despite being a comparatively young medium, but looking at this incredible roster of future leaders, it’s clear that, thanks to the efforts of these impressive individuals, the industry has even greater things ahead of it.