Announcing the Whickers Podcast Pitch Award Finalists for 2024

A collection of headshots of all the Podcast Pitch Finalists

We are delighted to announce the finalists for the second edition of our joint initiative with The Whickers, the Podcast Pitch Award. 

The award is designed to celebrate the global trend towards solo and episodic listening to factual audio, and together we have deliberated over the many original, educational, fascinating and, sometimes pretty whacky, entries.

The six finalists will present their projects to an esteemed panel of judges and a live audience on Saturday, June 15th during Sheffield DocFest 2024. A grand first prize of £5,000 will be awarded, with £2,000 going to the runner up. 

Jane Ray, Artistic Director at The Whickers shared her thoughts on this year’s entries: “We were thrilled and moved by the quality and variety of the projects submitted to this year’s podcasting pitch awards. It was a joy to tune in to such wondrous new stories from around the world. From the heart-breaking to the hilarious, incisively investigative to the fabulously whimsical. We encountered a dictator’s underpants and alien tin foil and loved the way complex ideas were being expressed through the everyday, such as the history of the world told through pickling vegetables and the tragedy of modern slavery through a punnet of strawberries. Themes did emerge. I think we expected several projects around the environment, queer politics, healing and mental health but were surprised that boxing popped up so much. We would like to thank everyone all who applied and congratulate those shortlisted. I cannot wait to meet the finalists on stage at the Sheffield Crucible and am so grateful that I don’t have to decide on the winners.  

Raul Nino Zambrano (Creative Director at SheffDocFest) and Lieven Heeremans (Podcast Programme producer at SheffDocFest) commented: “As a festival we are committed to making space for emerging non-fiction storytellers across multiple media  to present their work to our international audience. This year’s selection shows a wide range of topics and creative forms, indicating a rich and diverse future for the audio section of the documentary art form. We are delighted to continue our partnership with The Whickers, expanding support for audio makers and strengthening our commitment to the podcast strand that was introduced last year in our 30th edition. 

And now, without further ado, we are thrilled to unveil our six finalists.  


Balloon Warriors | Mateo Schimpf | Elize Manoukian / US

Balloon Warriors investigates the world of North Korean defectors fighting for their beliefs—using balloons. It's a wild ride through the politics of propaganda that includes assassination attempts, Interpol investigations, CIA operations, and a Christian rock festival — and explores just how far people will go to change hearts and minds.


Degenerate | Matthew Durai | Malaysia / Singapore / UK / US

What happens when one has a genetic predisposition to forget? This series tells the multifaceted story of Alzheimer's disease told through the lens of someone running towards a solution- because he has to.


Fight Fair | Libby Liburd | UK

The personal story of how a single mother, Libby Liburd, and her child find strength, belonging and joy in the most unlikely of places: the world of boxing. The series explores the legacy of the female boxers who fought for their right to fight and asks why women who box still struggle to receive parity in the sport.


Keening: The Song Before The Stranding | Aoife Glass | UK

Combining science, music, art and community, environmental artist Sam Gare and science communicator Aoife Glass explore the story of a mass stranding of long finned pilot whales on the Isle of Lewis in July 2023, the impact it had on the communities involved, and what happened next. 


Rewriting the Narrative | Christina Hardinge | UK

What if you could rewrite the story of your own life?


Rules Apply | Hedda Stølen | Clementine Briand |  Norway / Denmark / Germany / India

From alien contact protocols to bans on fancy hats, Rules Apply scours the globe for unusual laws to figure out what our rules say about us.

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