Starting Monday, The Podcast Academy will begin its mission to sign up podcasters to the newly created, not-for-profit industry group, whose mission is to foster education and idea sharing, as well as celebrate the best of what the medium has to offer during an annual awards show. Seventeen companies, including most of the biggest players in podcasting, have formed The Podcast Academy’s initial board of governors, with many contributing seed funding to help the organization get off the ground.
“I’m very excited that we can bring some unity to the podcasting medium that’s long overdue,” board chair Rob Greenlee said during a webinar on Thursday. The startup funding has allowed The Podcast Academy to hire two part-time employees — Executive Director Michele Cobb and Account Manager JoAnna Laskas, who previously worked with the audiobook industry.
“There are two main focuses,” said Greenlee, who is also VP of Content and Partnerships at Libsyn. “That is education — sharing of ideas, doing webinars, getting involved in conferences and events — and then the awards to reward excellence in podcasting,” he said. Greenlee also explained that the group isn’t initially focused on advocating for the industry. “We’re in too much of a community-building phase to get much involved in advocacy,” he said. “That’s not really the core purpose of the organization.”
While there are certainly other awards for podcasters, including the iHeartRadio Podcast Awards, the Academy of Podcasters’ Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the Webbys, organizers hope The Podcast Academy’s still-unnamed awards show will be something the industry can rally around. “The focus of the awards is to reward excellence in all aspects of podcasting,” said Greenlee. “Whether it’s hosting a podcast, producing a podcast, editing a podcast — all levels of excellence in the podcast space.” Greenlee said the forthcoming awards will be open to both professional podcasters and indie producers. “We’ll find a way to reward those communities,” he said. Members will have discounted entry fees and will be able to vote for winners.
Unlike many industry groups that work to enlist memberships from companies, The Podcast Academy aims to bring individual podcasters onboard. It will do that by offering a discounted $50 annual membership fee through September 30, when the annual rate will be increased to $100. The catch is that members must apply to get in by providing proof they work in the industry. Organizers say that requirement will typically be satisfied with two references and work samples related to the member’s chosen peer group. Members will be required to abide by a code of conduct.
The board of governors currently includes Greenlee (chair), TenderfootTV President Donald Albright (vice chair), PRX President Kerri Hoffman (Secretary), Sony Music Entertainment VP of Marketing Christy Mirabal (treasurer) and 13 members, including iHeartPodcast Network President Conal Byrne, Apple Global Head of Podcasts Ben Cave, Stitcher CEO Erik Diehn, NPR SVP of Programming and Audience Development Anya Grundmann, Spotify Head of Studios Courtney Holt, Wondery CEO Hernan Lopez, Don’t Skip Media founder Christina Moore, podcast strategist Rekha Murthy, On Being Studios Executive Producer Liliana Maria Percy Ruiz, United Talent Agency podcast agent Oren Rosenbaum, Criminal and This is Love Podcasts co-creator Lauren Spohrer, Spoke Media EVP of Content Alia Tavakolian, and Pineapple Street Media co-founder Jenna Weiss-Berman.