The Podcast Pitch is a joint initiative with Sheffield DocFest. After a successful pilot at DocFest in June 2023 the competition moves to its second year. The Whickers are giving a £5,000 production award to the winner and £2,000 to a runner up. Five finalists will also receive a free pass to Sheffield Documentary Festival in June 2024, 1 nights accommodation, a contribution of up to £400 per project towards their travel expenses and access to top industry professionals and commissioners of the audio world.
The Podcast Pitch follows the growing global trend towards solo, episodic listening to factual audio on the move and replaces the Radio and Audio Funding Award (RAFA). Single episode proposals will also be considered. The application is open to all independent podcast makers who fulfil the core criteria detailed below.
Applications are now open!
Key dates for 2024 round:
- 25th February 2024 (23:59 GMT): Deadline for applications
- Late April 2024: Shortlisted projects announced
- June 2024: Finalists pitch their projects at Sheffield DocFest
- June 2024: Winner of the Film & TV Funding Award announced at Sheffield DocFest Awards Ceremony
- 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
- Flair for structure; for example: knows how to create a cliffhanger to ensure the listener tunes in to the next episode
- An instinct for knowing what their audience cares about, or will care about in 6 months time
- We welcome applications from across the globe but projects must be accessible to an English language audience
- A basic understanding of the podcasting process is welcome
- 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
- A story-teller with demonstrably strong interviewing skills
- Demonstrates passion for the subject whilst retaining fair-mindedness
- Demonstrates a real sense of independence
- Wit is welcome
- Strictly no ‘Whicker impersonations’
Original use of technology
- Playful with story-telling means – breaking new ground and/or using old ground to re-invent new style
- An understanding that sound, as well as speech, can enrich the audience experience.
- Creative use of the stereo or binaural audio landscape.
Personal not partisan
- Investigative journalism is welcome
- 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 four 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
- If applicants reach the finals they will be invited to pitch at Sheffield DocFest in the UK in June 2024
- Applicants must be able to attend the final in person
- The judges’ decision is final.
- For further information, see the FAQs at the bottom of this page
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. To apply, you will need: up to 4 minutes of teaser audio, a still image to illustrate your project, an executive producer or named mentor, and you will need to agree to our full Podcast Pitch Terms and Conditions.
You can download a PDF template of the application form to help you to prepare your answers in advance by clicking the button link at the end of this section. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have further queries.
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 Podcast Pitch?
Yes. The Podcast Pitch is open for applications until 11:59pm GMT on Sunday 25th February 2024.
Can I submit more than one proposal per cycle?
Yes. We will accept up to 2 proposals per applicant.
Do I need to be an emerging podcast producer to apply?
No. Unlike the Film and TV Funding Award, this is open to producers at any stage of their career.
When will I find out if I have been successful?
We aim to publish the long list in early April and the finalist list by the beginning of May.
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?
We welcome applications from all those over the age of 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?
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.
Instead of ‘authored’, Alan Whicker tended to use the phrase ‘signed documentary’ to describe his work. It meant the same thing. Whicker’s World programmes showed the world from Alan’s point of view as he interacted with it. 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?
Apply via the online form above. Alternatively, you may download the form above and send it to email@example.com. If you have concerns, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can only accept completed application forms. 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.
How long is a podcast series?
There are no rules on this, but a guideline would be a minimum of 6 episodes. There are no rules on episode length either, but a guideline would be 10, 28 minutes or just under an hour for each. We will accept single programme proposals as well. You have to decide ‘what is my story worth’ and ‘what is the best way to let it unfold?’
If I am selected as a finalist, who pays for me to get to Sheffield and what happens if I cannot make it?
We welcome applications from across the globe but can currently only afford up to £400 per finalist team for their travel. In extreme circumstances exceptions may be considered. We do not have the option of live online pitching.
Who decides on the long list?
The Whickers are pre-selectors. In other words we decide which proposals best fit the criteria and pass them to the programming gurus at Sheffield Doc Fest. They choose the finalists. On the day of the pitch three judges representing different aspects of the podcast industry will decide who gets a funding award.
What happened to the Radio and Audio Funding Award, the RAFA?
We have moved away from supporting single documentaries exclusively to podcast series. We feel this more fairly reflects the needs and opportunities of today’s audio industry, and supports a format that is more likely to be funded in today’s world. As ever, our ultimate aim is to give emerging audio talent a voice and a career.
What Happened to the Documentary Audio Recognition Award, the DARA?
We loved judging the Documentary Audio Recognition Award very much. However, funding fresh talent at the development stage is closer to Alan Whicker’s founding vision. The DARA celebrated the ‘best’ finished work by those already in the public eye. By closing the DARA, we were able to offer more funding to emerging talent.
Have a question that hasn’t been answered above? Contact us at email@example.com