The Radio and Audio Funding Award (RAFA) is awarded annually to an emerging audio producer based anywhere in the world to produce an original radio or audio documentary which fulfils the core criteria detailed below. A main award of £7,000 is awarded to an audio documentary-maker to produce a feature-length programme. £3,000 goes to the runner-up.

Applications are now closed and will reopen in early 2019. 

Key dates:

  • Midnight CET, Tuesday 8 May 2018: Extended and final deadline for applications (original deadline: 1 May)
  • Mid-July 2018: Shortlisted applicants are notified
  • 7 September 2018: Finalists pitch their projects to the judging panel at Open City Documentary Festival.
  • 8 September 2018: Award-winners announced at the Open City award ceremony.

Previous Winners

See all the previous winners of this award.

Radio & Audio Funding Award Finalists 2018


Authored Story

  • A story-teller with demonstrably strong interviewing skills
  • Demonstrates passion for the subject whilst retaining fair-mindedness
  • Demonstrates a real sense of independence
  • Personal but not partisan
  • Wry humour welcome
  • Strictly no ‘Whicker impersonations’


  • Unique access to engaging characters in unusual or inaccessible locations
  • Contributors have agency, their story emerges in their own words
  • A demonstrable flair for coaxing the human spirit into revealing itself
  • The author demonstrates intimacy with but does not overshadow the subject


  • Spirit of inquisitiveness that leaves viewers wanting more
  • Tells us about something new and unexpected about the world
  • Excites wonder
  • Understands how wit can illuminate the toughest or most nuanced real life drama

Original use of technology

  • Playful with story-telling means – breaking new ground and/or using old ground to re-invent new style

Not partisan:

  • No campaigning, pre-set agendas or political theories


  • Open to audio producers from anywhere in the world, but the programme must be in the English language
  • Award money will either be paid into the award-winner’s registered production company, or to an individual (if they are applying as a sole producer)
  • Up to six minutes of original taster audio recording is required at the time of applying
  • Applicants must have an executive producer on board at the time of applying.
  • Should they be shortlisted, applicants must be available to travel to London in early September 2018 to pitch their project in front of the judging panel at Open City Documentary Festival

Application Checklist

We recommend that, well in advance of the deadline, you go through the full application questions in order to prepare your answers according to the requested word limits, and gather the necessary links and information. You can expect to answer questions on the following:

Section 1: The title of your project and a two-sentence ‘hook’.

Section 2: Your name, if your application is connected to a registered audio production company or if you are applying as a sole producer, details of the production company (if applicable), your role in connection to the application.

Section 3: A link to 6 minutes of preliminary sound recording for your project (for judging purposes), confirmation that you have the right to upload this, the likelihood that your programme will be finished before the Autumn 2018 deadline (date TBC).

Section 4: Up to 1500 word synopsis of your project, up to 300 words on how your project meets the criteria, an estimated budget (in GBP) of various elements in production and post-production of the programme, any existing funding or plans for future funding, details of your executive producer, confirmation that your project complies with our majority sponsor criteria (see section 4.6 in the RAFA Terms and Conditions).

Section 5: Your background in audio documentary making, 50 words on how you learnt your documentary making skills, 50 words on what inspires you to make documentaries, 50 words on how the funding will benefit your project, 50 words on why an audience would really love to hear your programme, if you or a member of your team will be able to attend a live pitching event in September 2018, your compliance with rules on transferring funds, your agreement with our terms and conditions.


Do I need to pay to enter?

No, all of our awards are free to enter.

Do I need to be a UK citizen to apply?

No, we accept applications worldwide.

Does my proposal have to be in English?

Yes, we will only consider proposals in English. The taster audio material and proposed programme should be in the English language, or in voiced over dubbing for audio originally recorded in languages other than English.

Is there a deadline for applying to the Radio and Audio Funding Award?

Yes. The Radio and Audio Funding Award is awarded annually, and is open for applications until the extended and final deadline of midnight CET on Tuesday 8 May 2018. (Original deadline: 1 May)

Can I submit more than one proposal per cycle?

No. We will accept one proposal, per applicant, per award, per year.

When will I find out if I have been successful?

Shortlisted applicants – five projects each year – will be contacted at the end of July 2018. These five finalists will be invited to pitch their projects to a judging panel at Open City Documentary Festival in the UK in early September 2018 (reasonable travel & accommodation costs covered by The Whickers). The main award-winner and runner-up will be announced at the Open City Documentary Festival award ceremony a few days later.

Can I request feedback if my project is not accepted?

Our resources for giving feedback are very limited. If your application is unsuccessful and you are prepared to wait, we can arrange for a 7 minute feedback slot by phone.

Is there an age limit for applying?

No, all of our awards are open to applicants of all ages (18+).

Whicker’s World was all about travel, so are these awards for travel programmes?

No. Whicker’s World was always more about the people rather than the places – and this legacy exists to support documentary-makers who can introduce us to wondrous ‘new worlds’, whether or not they are across the globe or across the room.

What do you mean when you say you are looking for “authored” work?

In its most literal interpretation, this would mean that the programme is narrated. However, the meaning of ‘authored’ can be stretched and expanded in this context. Above all we are looking for a story that could only be told by the applicant who is proposing the project. They will have ownership of the story, outstanding access, and a demonstrable passion for the subject at hand.

The phrase that Alan Whicker used in this regard was a ‘signed’ documentary. It meant that he stood by whatever was said or done in the programme, as such Whicker’s World programmes showed the world from Alan’s point of view as he interacted with it. This was true even when it appeared that those he met were doing all the talking and when he hardly appeared on screen. In the same spirit we are looking for your take on another world that remains truthful, professional and acknowledges other points of view. We are also looking for wit and flair in the way you script, edit, select and juxtapose your contributors and perhaps reinvent, or stretch, the grammar of the form to new heights. In other words, we are looking for a story well told. In this way a documentary with no presenter or narrator may still be considered ‘authored’.

How do I apply?

Click on ‘Apply now’ below. Please note that we can only accept applications via our comprehensive online form. Ensure that you are eligible to apply according to our criteria and terms and conditions before starting your application.

How long will the application form take me?

WE cannot put a timeframe on this, but you should set aside ample time to complete the form. We recommend that you read through the application form in advance in order to fully prepare your answers and materials ahead of time. Visit our application checklist for more information.

Have a question that hasn’t been answered above? Contact us at info@whickerawards.com


Nina Garthwaite

Nina Garthwaite

Sarah Geis

Sarah Geis

Steve Titherington

Steve Titherington
Nina Garthwaite

Nina Garthwaite began her career working in television but has always harboured a love of radio. In 2010 she created In The Dark to open up a space where radio from around the world could be heard, enjoyed and discussed. She hopes that, in time, In The Dark will raise the profile of the radio in the UK, so that it can claim its rightful place amongst the arts. She also works part time at a rest house for sea-farers.

Sarah Geis

Sarah Geis is an independent audio producer, editor, and a former artistic director of the Third Coast International Audio Festival. She began her career traveling the country with the StoryCorps oral history project, and has spent the past decade evangelizing on behalf of narrative audio around the globe. Her work has aired on WBEZ, BBC Radio 4, and the podcast Love + Radio. She is based in Chicago, where she teaches radio and podcasting at multiple universities. 

Steve Titherington

Steve Titherington is Sr. Commissioning Editor at the BBC World Service for the last seven years with a special brief to lead bold editorial projects and create new program formats. New shows include The Why Factor; Trending, the Food Chain and The Inquiry – and BBC MINUTE, a new 24/7 global news service for young people listening via pop music stations or music streaming sites. Before that Steve has been Executive Editor of Global News, Deputy Head of WS News Programmes and Editor of the World Service Newsroom where he led award winning coverage during 9-ll and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was Launch Editor of the WS 24 hour News stream and has also led major news coverage for the World Service in the USA, Russia, and China. He has also been a reporter for File on 4 and for World TV and has reported from around the world from Haiti to Hong Kong.