Discover the Winners of Adweek’s 2019 Podcast of the Year Awards

Honoring the best shows, hosts, execs, networks and more

If it feels like the world of podcasts has become bafflingly large, that’s probably because it has.

This year, an estimated 14 million more Americans—a 23% increase over 2018—became weekly podcast listeners, and the industry reached a milestone moment as 51% of Americans said they’ve listened to podcasts, according to Edison Research’s annual “Infinite Dial” survey.

As content creators scramble to claim their slices of this massively growing audience, it can be tough to sift through the shows to find the ones truly worth a listen. That’s why we launched the Adweek Podcast of the Year Awards, recognizing the best shows, companies and personalities across 20 categories.

Despite this being the first year of the awards program, we were flooded with entries from many of today’s top networks, media outlets, agencies and brands. Luckily, our jury of industry experts with hands-on podcasting experience was willing to review hundreds of hours of podcast content to determine the best.

Today, we unveil the inaugural winners of Adweek’s Podcast of the Year Awards, including the show selected from all honorees to be 2019’s definitive Podcast of the Year:


Podcast Hosts of the Year

Roxane Gay and Tressie McMillan Cottom
Hosts of Hear to Slay
Luminary Media

Gay and McMillan Cottom have brought a breath of fresh air to the crowded podcasting space through their perspectives on all things pop culture and politics. The self-described “black feminist podcast of your dreams” balances humor with insightful interviews on current events. Novelist and essayist Gay was previously honored in Adweek’s 2018 Creative 100.


Podcast Network of the Year

Two winners were honored in this category:

Radiotopia

The storytelling-driven podcast network, part of the nonprofit Public Radio Exchange, or PRX, has quickly grown to be a favorite of avid podcast listeners. Since the network was founded by Roman Mars in 2014, its portfolio of podcasts—including hits like Criminal, West Wing Weekly, The Allusionist and Mars’ 99% Invisible—has reached more than 19 million downloads per month and attracted big-time investments, including the Knight Foundation.

Critical Frequency

Founded in 2018 by journalist Amy Westervelt, Critical Frequency is focused on identifying and amplifying diverse voices that haven’t always been well represented in mainstream podcasting.  Describing itself as “a podcast network for everyone else,” Critical Frequency spans several coverage areas with popular podcasts like Hot Take, The Double Shift and Drilled.


Podcast Executive of the Year

Getty Images

Kerri Hoffman
CEO, PRX

A 20-year veteran of nonprofit leadership, Hoffman was an early adopter of podcasting and has remained a consistent advocate for innovation in the industry’s storytelling, technology and revenue streams. She has been with PRX for more than a decade, previously having served as its chief operating officer until being named CEO in 2016. She has played a key role in overseeing the evolution of PRX and the creation of its podcast network, Radiotopia, also honored as one of Adweek’s Podcast Networks of the Year.


Podcast Episode of the Year

Two winners were honored in this category:

The Big One: Your Survival Guide
“Episode 1: The Earthquake”
Southern California Public Radio

The Big One: Your Survival Guide imagines what it would be like if Los Angeles were completely changed by a massive earthquake at a magnitude of 7.8. The first episode perfectly sets the stage for a terrifying, in-depth look at what would happen next. In the episode, host Jacob Margolis walks listeners through the first two minutes of the disaster, which the show estimates would leave 10 million people without power, water or internet.

The Clearing
“Episode 1 – Hunting Season”
Pineapple Street Studios, a division of Radio.com

The Clearing, created in association with Gimlet, became part of parent company Entercom’s portfolio when it purchased Pineapple Street Media in August. The podcast details the story of April Balascio and how she discovered—and coped with—the fact that her father, Edward Wayne Edwards, was a murderer.


Podcast Producer of the Year

Two winners were honored in this category:

Misha Euceph
LAist Studios

Euceph produced The Big One: Your Survival Guide, a podcast that provided a guideline for listeners to prepare for a major earthquake. The work led many to prepare their own kits in the case of a natural disaster that has the potential to change the L.A. landscape. She is also the host of her own podcast, Tell Them, I Am.

Andrew Parsons
Luminary Media / Prologue Projects

Parsons has made a name for himself for producing newsworthy, investigative podcasts. Co-creator of Slate’s hit podcast Slow Burn, Parsons has, since leaving Slate in 2018 to pursue other projects, been producing Luminary podcasts Fiasco and On Second Thought With Trevor Noah.


Podcast Innovator of the Year

Neil Mody
Co-founder and CEO, Headliner

Podcasts are many things, but “easily shareable” has traditionally not been a phrase many would use when it comes to audio content. Mody has helped advance podcast marketing through the social video creation company, Headliner. Thousands of podcast marketers and producers internationally have used the company’s tools to promote their shows by turning audio clips into shareable video.


Tech Podcast of the Year

Recode Decode, Vox Media New York

Recode editor-at-large and co-founder Kara Swisher’s three-times-a-week podcast offers candid, unique interviews with the biggest names in tech, politics and Hollywood. The Silicon Valley-based podcast host has made headlines with interviews from guests like whistleblower Edward Snowden, journalist Ronan Farrow and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina.


Thought Leadership Podcast of the Year

Pivot
Vox Media

The weekly podcast from Recode’s Kara Swisher and NYU professor Scott Galloway offers sharp analysis and deep insight on media, politics and technology. 


Branded Podcast of the Year

Two winners were honored in this category:

Trailblazers with Walter Isaacson
Dell Technologies

Historian and veteran media executive Isaacson, former CEO and chairman of CNN, examines the evolution of technology in this branded podcast from Dell Technologies. Topics have ranged from skyscrapers to celebrities to searching for jobs online. 

Fixed That For You
Segment

Fixed That For You, also known as FTFY, is hosted by science journalist Cara Santa Maria for data and analytics company Segment. The addictive show takes a look at some of the world’s most common problems and how they can be solved through data and algorithms. Episodes have examined dating, wildlife poachers and hamburgers.


Innovation Podcast of the Year

Sleepwalkers
iHeartRadio

The original podcast from iHeart Radio examines how artificial intelligence has the ability to affect human life in multiple ways, including creatively, in health and even in love. The podcast is hosted by Emmy and Peabody Award winner Oz Woloshyn and features interviews that range from medical professionals to lab researchers at Google.


Publisher-Hosted Podcast of the Year

Two winners were honored in this category:

How To! With Charles Duhigg
Slate

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charles Duhigg, author of bestseller The Power of Habit, tackles listeners’ questions, connecting with experts to find the right answers. Duhigg, who writes for the New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine, brings the same investigative insights to the podcast, where he’s researched how to perform under pressure and how to win at online dating.

30 for 30 Podcasts: The Sterling Affairs
ESPN Films New York

The Sterling Affairs, a five-part series from ESPN’s celebrated 30 for 30 Podcasts, examined the buildup to secretly taped recordings of Donald Sterling, then owner of the Clippers, and his mistress, V. Stiviano. The podcast, hosted by Ramona Shelburne, visits the fallout both for the NBA and Sterling’s marriage after the recording revealed Sterling’s racist remarks.


Interview Podcast of the Year

How To! With Charles Duhigg
Slate

Duhigg’s podcast, also honored in the Publisher-Hosted Podcast of the Year category, puts a listener-friendly spin on the classic podcast interview format by bringing in experts to tackle listener-submitted questions that often evade easy answers.


Marketing Podcast of the Year

Face 2 Face
Facebook

Hosts Jules Lund and Tom Hern talk with leading creatives in New Zealand and Australia to learn how they best connect with consumers. Episodes have discussed everything from operating in a digital world to how marketers preserve their mental health. 


Agency-Hosted Podcast of the Year

Two winners were honored in this category:

IOFA with Aaron Starkman
Rethink Toronto

Created by agency Rethink’s managing partner Aaron Starkman and Ted Rosnick of Vapor Music, IOFA—It’s Only Fucking Advertising—chats with leading creatives in the field. Guests have included Jeff Goodby and Gerry Graf. 

The Disruptor Series
TBWA\Chiat\Day New York

Rob Schwartz, CEO of TBWA\Chiat\Day New York, chats with thought leaders throughout the creative world, profiling leading content creators who are disrupting their industries, culture and society. Guests have ranged from veteran creative director Rich Siegel to composer Jonathan Elias.


TV/Streaming Podcast of the Year

The Chernobyl Podcast
Pineapple Street Studios, a division of Radio.com

The five-part podcast was released this year as a supplementary series to the HBO show powerfully chronicling the Chernobyl disaster. In the podcast, creator of the HBO series, Craig Mazin, and NPR’s Peter Sagal, of Wait Wait…. Don’t Tell Me!, discuss the backstory of each episode.

Obsessed With
Chalk & Blade

Obsessed With is a podcast that takes a deeper look at some of BBC’s biggest hit TV shows, offering a behind-the-scenes look at topics as specific as the costumes on Killing Eve.


Diversity and Inclusion Podcast of the Year

The Pay Check
Bloomberg

This in-depth podcast series, released over two seasons, takes a look at the gender wage gap, offering an up-close view at what it’s like to be a woman in the workplace. Episodes analyzed the issue by tackling topics like whether companies can be shamed into closing the pay gap and how it all started to begin with. 


Entrepreneurship Podcast of the Year

Three and a Half Degrees: The Power of Connection
Facebook

Thanks to technology, today’s is even closer together than six degrees of separation. By interviewing entrepreneurial leaders, this podcast from Facebook digs into what this new closeness to one another actually means, including the opportunities and challenges associated with the new normal.


Creativity Podcast of the Year

Blockbuster
Epicleff Media

This six-part podcast series, set in the 1970s, details the friendship between a young Steven Spielberg and George Lucas and how the bond helped shape their cinematic creations. The podcast was created by Matt Schrader, a former investigative journalist and filmmaker.


Podcast Event of the Year

Stuff You Should Know: Live
iHeartRadio

This event series brings the podcast, hosted by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant in collaboration with iHeartRadio’s HowStuffWorks, to life in cities across the country. With more than 1,000 episodes, the podcast’s enduring popularity has resulted in more than 1 billion downloads.


Podcast Site or App of the Year

Two winners were honored in this category:

Headliner

More than 60,000 podcasters have used Headliner to seamlessly promote their shows by converting audio snippets from shows into short and shareable video clips. The app has continued to evolve, recently adding AI-powered automation tools.

iHeartRadio app
iHeartRadio

The easy-to-use app offers users thousands of live local radio stations as well as curated playlists based on the user’s favorite artists. The tool has also integrated iHeartRadio’s rapidly growing podcast network.


Podcast Editor of the Year

No winners were honored in this category.


Podcast of the Year

Recode Decode
Vox Media New York

Swisher’s singular style has pushed Recode Decode’s reach far beyond the tech world to establish the show as one of the all-around leading interview venues in podcasting. Swisher has hosted a roster of big names across politics, entertainment and culture with the same candid, sometimes-combative charm that made her a force in Silicon Valley. The wide-ranging guest list, which has included everyone from Megan Rapinoe to Marianne Williamson, orbits around Swisher’s own genuine interests. Swisher remains consistently hands-on with the show’s production, often doing the work of calling and booking guests herself. “Kara Swisher is the organizing principle,” says her executive producer, Erica Anderson.

Because of the show’s rise as a journalistic institution that has transcended tech and even podcasting to become an informative centerpiece of modern culture, Adweek’s jurors and editors have selected it as the inaugural winner of the magazine’s Podcast of the Year Awards.


Shameless plug: Adweek’s podcasts

Adweek’s own podcasts were obviously ineligible for entry in the Adweek Podcast of the Year awards, but if you like the shows above, you’ll also probably like these:

Yeah, That’s Probably an Ad: The Adweek news team’s weekly podcast rounding up the best, worst and weirdest moments of marketing, cohosted by David Griner and Ko Im. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or Spotify.
CMO Moves: Hosted by Adweek Chief Community Officer Nadine Dietz, this interview podcast features some of the most iconic leaders in marketing. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Soundcloud.
Gen ZEOs Podcast: Adweek’s Nick Gardner hosts this discussion with leaders from the newest generation of entrepreneurs. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Soundcloud.


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