The last few weeks have been something of a whirlwind for me, as we geared up for the British Podcast Awards - the culmination of a year's worth of effort and no small amount of stress. Now that the event itself is behind me and the hangover has subsided, I've had a chance to reflect and take stock of my first British Podcast Awards.
In many ways, this event was PodPod's first real test as a brand; we launched in October last year (and hasn't that just flown by) but this was the first chance we've had to stand in front of the industry, at our own event, and see whether or not we've been successful in supporting the industry's needs.
I'm delighted to say that, from where I'm sitting, I think last week's event, held at a shiny new venue - The Outernet in the heart of London’s West End - shows we've done that. I was pleased to note that many of the winners selected by our independent judging panel had previously been guests on PodPod, which indicates to me that we're doing well in terms of identifying the movers and shakers within the industry, and our editorial focus on the craft and business of podcasting.
Overall, while there's definitely a lot of learnings we can take from our first proper year running the British Podcast Awards since Haymarket took it over, I'm satisfied that it was a great success. I certainly had a fantastic night, and I'd be remiss if I didn't say a huge thank you to the many people who made it possible. That starts with our events team, who worked themselves ragged pulling off an outstanding production and spinning more plates than an Argos on a merry-go-round.
I should also thank all of the podcasters and industry figures who presented awards for making the night feel special, the event partners for helping fund it, our hilarious hosts Zoe Lyons and Stephen Bailey, our judges for all their hard work, Matt Hill and Matt Deegan for starting the awards in the first place, all our winners and nominees for creating the outstanding content that makes it all possible in the first place, and to all the attendees on the night for coming out, celebrating, and making it such a fantastic evening.
Everyone I spoke to seemed to be enjoying themselves, and the common thread was the opportunity to meet old friends and network with potential new ones. I saw dozens of people reconnecting with previous colleagues, and many plans were made to catch up about new projects after the awards. When next year's awards roll around, there's a reasonable chance that at least a few of the shows walking away with a trophy will have been born of seeds planted that night.
It was particularly moving to hear from Richard Angell and Martyn Butler OBE of The Terrence Higgins Trust, who presented this year’s award for Podcast Of The Year to A Positive Life. Their impassioned speech highlighted the difference that podcasts continue to make in highlighting important and often under-recognised issues.
On a personal level, I was also gratified to see the number of independent podcasts winning in categories against larger competitors, including Wooden Overcoats and The Tennis Podcast. It shows the breadth and vibrancy of the medium, and that it's still a meritocracy where dedicated, passionate creators can still stand out from the crowd with the help of a good idea. It's vital that we recognise these shows, and continue to highlight that podcasting isn't just a celebrity playground.
With that said, the awards did see their fair share of famous faces, including Jamie Laing and Sophie Hubboo, Miquita Oliver, Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel and Lewis Goodall, Spencer Matthews and Vogue Williams. Williams was given the Podcast Champion award for her work in bringing podcasting to young female audiences, and hearing her genuine passion and enthusiasm for podcasting was inspiring.
When we started planning this year's awards, we wanted it to feel like something really special. We felt the British podcasting community deserved a proper party - because podcasting isn’t some scrappy upstart medium any more. It’s a proper, fully-fledged media sector, and it has been for years. It deserves an awards ceremony that reflects its maturity and status.
During the ceremony, I was sat next to Josh Baker, who picked up multiple Silver awards for season two of I’m Not A Monster. Baker compared the event to the Emmys of podcasting, and it's a comparison that I was humbled to hear in different flavours from a number of different guests on the night. Podcasting is all grown up, and I'm glad that the biggest party in podcasting can embody this sophistication with an event that stands alongside the likes of the BAFTAs and the National Television Awards while still celebrating and continuing its rebellious independent spirit.
Now to start planning for the British Podcast Awards 2024…