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The Oscars of Podcasting? First ‘Golden Mics’ Awards to Debut in 2021

The burgeoning podcast biz is looking for its own version of the Oscars, Emmys and Grammys.

On Friday, a group of podcast publishers and producers including Spotify, NPR, PRX, Sony Music Entertainment and Wondery announced the formation of the Podcast Academy, a membership-based organization dedicated to promoting the medium.

As part of its charter, the Podcast Academy plans to bestow annual awards of merit – dubbed the Golden Mics – for outstanding achievements in podcasting. The first Golden Mics ceremony is targeted for early 2021 in Los Angeles.

The companies didn’t say how much membership in the Podcast Academy would cost. A spokesman for the new organization said the board of governors has yet to determine fees but said their aim is to keep costs low and accessible for all industry participants.

Podcast Academy members will be eligible to vote in different categories, including one for general excellence, for Golden Mics contenders. The org said it would begin accepting nominations for the awards in the fall of 2020.

Some notable podcast publishers and distributors are not among the organization’s founding members. Those absent from the roster include iHeartRadio, the New York Times Co., Luminary, Entercom Communications and Cumulus Media’s Westwood One.

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It’s worth noting that iHeartRadio, the second-biggest podcast network in the U.S. after NPR, has its own podcast awards program and held the second annual iHeartRadio Podcast Awards in January.

Conal Byrne, president of the iHeartPodcast Network, said his company was asked to participate in the formation of the Podcast Academy. While iHeartMedia will evaluate joining the org, Byrne said, “the iHeartRadio Podcast Awards was built as an industry show with industry participation and has already had two successful seasons, so we want to make sure this is something additive. We will of course listen to the pitch.”

Initial supporters of the Podcast Academy include Courtney Holt (Spotify), Anya Grundman (NPR), Kerri Hoffman (PRX), Donald Albright (Tenderfoot TV), Erik Diehn (Stitcher),  Hernan Lopez (Wondery), Christy Mirabal (Sony Music), Rekha Murthy (independent), Lauren Spohrer (Criminal), Alia Tavakolian (Spoke Media) and Oren Rosenbaum (UTA’s head of emerging platforms).

“Film, television, music – all other major forms of art have long-ago established a member-based academy with the goal of fostering and celebrating creative excellence. It’s time for Podcasts to establish their own,” Wondery CEO Hernan Lopez, one of the founding members of the organization, said in a statement.”

Kerri Hoffman, CEO of PRX, the non-profit that manages digital distribution of public media, added, “I welcome the opportunity to celebrate the excellence throughout podcasting — at the mic and the amazing talent behind the scenes.”

In addition to the awards program, the Podcast Academy expects to host monthly webinars on industry topics and networking events in L.A. and New York City, as well as publish whitepapers on best practices. It also expects to compile a searchable directory of members.

The org provides more info at thepodcastacademy.com. The Podcast Academy expects to start accepting membership applications later this spring.

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