podcast awards

A trio of the award winners at the upcoming iHeartRadio Podcast Awards won’t have to wait until next month’s ceremonies to find out they’re taking home a trophy. The winners of the three Icon Awards have been announced. They pay tribute to the creators, organizations and podcasts that have made groundbreaking contributions to podcasting’s expanding role in today’s popular culture.

The Social Impact Award was given to the New York Times-produced podcast “1619.” It is a five-episode series that observes the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. The podcast series is hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones, an award-winning journalist who serves as a domestic correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, focusing on racial injustice. The “1619” podcast has also been nominated as Best History Podcast.


The Innovator Award has been given to NPR’s “Life Kit” podcast. The how-to series gives listeners tips on a wide variety of subjects, from personal finance, health and wellness, to parenting by talking to the subject matter’s experts to get the best advice. “Life Kit” is also nominated in the Best Wellness & Fitness Podcast category. The podcast episodes are aggregated in topical playlists for deep dives. NPR received the first-ever iHeartRadio Podcast Pioneer Award in 2019. The Innovator Award is presented by Zoom.

The Audio Pioneer Award has been presented to powerhouse producers Payne Lindsey and Donald Albright of Tenderfoot TV. Linsey, a director and independent filmmaker, and Albright, a music industry veteran, launched Tenderfoot TV in 2016 with their first podcast, “Up and Vanished,” which has received over 330 million downloads to date. It also created the blueprint for Tenderfoot TV’s other No. 1 critically acclaimed podcasts, “Atlanta Monster,” “To Live and Die in LA,” “Culpable” and “Sworn.” Since its launch in 2016, Tenderfoot TV has surpassed 500 million downloads as a company, including 185 million downloads in 2019 alone. The Audio Pioneer Award is presented by Audible.


“We’re thrilled to honor ‘1619,’ ‘Life Kit’ and Tenderfoot TV as this year’s iHeartRadio Podcast Icon winners,” said Conal Byrne, President of the iHeartPodcast Network. “From history to true crime to everyday guidance, their work is as diverse as it is trailblazing, and they make it easy to understand why podcasts have become a must-listen for millions of people each and every day.”

The event will honor the most entertaining and innovative podcasts of 2019 and will span 30 categories. Nominees were announced in November and include podcasts from all creators, distributors and platforms. A panel of blue-ribbon podcast industry leaders, creatives and visionaries are determining most of the winners. Podcast fans themselves will once again decide the winner of the Best Podcast of the Year award through social voting on Twitter through Jan. 10.

The 2020 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards will be held Friday, Jan. 17 at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. The ceremonies will be live-streamed via LiveXLive and will air on several iHeartMedia-owned radio stations around the country. Executive producers for the iHeartRadio Podcast Awards are John Sykes, Tom Poleman and Byrne for iHeartMedia and Augie Max Vargas.