Radio & Audio Funding Award Winner 2022

Unlike in previous years, our RAFA finalists did not pitch their projects in public in order to decide on a winner. Instead, each won £1,000 and were invited to join our RAFA Development Workshop. The additional prize bundle for our winning project consists of £4,000, plus mentorship from a top industry professional.

Meet the winner of our 2022 Radio & Audio Funding Award (RAFA) below. Click on the image for further details.

Through It All | Stepfanie Aguilar

The War Less Traveled | Lauren Anders Brown

Tran, who was born in the USA to Vietnamese refugee parents, returns to her father’s country to explore the mental legacy two generations on from the devastation of war. Through her story, we learn the revisionist history of the ‘Resistance War Against America’ that the current generation is left fighting to this day.

Producer: Lauren Anders Brown is a documentary director and photographer who has worked in over 40 countries and focuses on global health and humanitarian issues. 

Judge Pam Fraser Soloman said: “This project is really important, really urgent, and it is an untold story about the Vietnamese boat people and intergenerational issues that the protagonist is facing.”

When Lauren heard she was a finalist, she responded: “Being a finalist with The Whickers means the world to me and this project, and I can’t wait to share the news with the rest of the team.”

Back and North | Mads Mordigan - WINNER

Two sex workers return to their small hometown in the north of England to produce a controversial comedy event, striving to deal with traumas, transphobia and stigma through humour and a host of parody characters.

Producer: Mads Mordigan is a London based audio producer working in Community and Independent radio.

Judge Steve Titherington said: “Back and North is a rich listen with a strong sense of place and an unfolding story. It was also an involved and clever listen that will work very well on radio.”

When Mads heard that she had won the top prize, she responded: “It’s been inspiring, if a little intimidating to be amongst the RAFA finalists. The quality of sounds and stories this year is amazing and we’re so excited to share the prize with Priyanka Gaikwad. The Whickers really scoop out some beautiful talent. We feel humbled and honoured that our story has been backed. We are elated that The Whickers team supports bold projects and seems unaffected by a moralism that we have previously encountered when speaking about the experience of Sex Workers without a context of rehabilitation. We look forward to continuing our project, which celebrates the ability to laugh in the face of prejudice.”


Unmatched Lives | Priyanka Gaikwad - RUNNER-UP

Unmatched Lives delves into the stories of women who have decided, against all the tenants of their societal norms and familial expectations that they are not going to marry. It is an exploration of how single women in India from different castes, classes and religions are striving to find a balance between achieving independence and gaining the respect of those around them.

Producer: Priyanka Gaikwad has worked as a sound recordist and a musician for over six years and recently found herself drawn to writing and producing audio stories that are reflective of the society she lives in.

Judge Pam Fraser Solomon was thrilled to hear such refreshing, unfiltered voices who are “tentatively formulating questions about role and identity. Unmatched Lives has a delightful realism and would resonate with women and girls all over the world who are challenging the ‘Happily Ever After’.”

Unaware, we phoned Priyanka in the middle of a Diwali firework display to tell her she was our runner-up. It seemed appropriate somehow. Above the noise she said “Oh wow, this is SO GOOD, I am really excited. I am very keen to learn from the best of the best and to make this happen. I am really thankful for The Whickers’ loving support. Something so good is building here.”

Digilante | Poppy Damon & Alice Fiennes

Dilgilante investigates the global trend for amateur sleuthing on the internet and explores the ethics of the online communities taking justice into their own keyboards. The story starts with Todd Matthews, whose work on the Tent Girl murder sparked the beginning of a phenomenon. The producers delve into the psychology of the craze and ask whether it’s doing more harm than good.

Producers: Poppy Damon and Alice Fiennes are the creators of the Murderabilia podcast (Audible, 2019) and the Pseudocide podcast (Spring 2021). Digilante is their documentary about online armchair detectives.

Judge Steve Titherington said: “Current and immersive, Digilante is a very clever proposal. It is well produced and offers a refreshing juxtaposition to the true crime genre.”

When Poppy and Alice heard they were finalists, they responded: “We are so delighted to be shortlisted – Alan Whicker is one of our journalism heroes. We can’t wait to hear about the other projects and to e-meet the other finalists.”

Diluvian Dreams | Jack Monaghan

A homage to the magic of the falling water droplet. Mixing original music with interviews from around the world to explore the myths and the science of precipitation – from the story of the first rain drop on Earth, to how changing weather patterns will shape all of our futures.

Producer: Jack Monaghan is a science-inspired audio producer from the rain-soaked hills near Manchester, and is creative director of the music and storytelling collaboration Pronk Productions.

Judge Pam Fraser Soloman said: “An ambitious proposal, a confident layering of ideas that promise an assured yet mesmerising audio experience.”

When Jack heard he was a finalist, he responded: “This is such exciting news. I’m up above the rain clouds and over the moon. I can’t wait to share this with the team.“

The Last Word | Talia Augustidis - Honourable Mention

‘Cries for help were heard from the bottom of the cliff and police and firemen searched for her in the darkness for three hours in the early hours of Saturday.’ This is how the BBC described the last moments before my Mother’s death; this piece tells a different story.

Producer: Talia Augustidis is a London based audio producer, interested in a creative blend of fact and fiction. 

When Talia heard she was a finalist, she responded: “I am incredibly honoured to be selected. I can’t wait to meet the other finalists and learn from such renowned industry professionals.”

Judge, Pam Fraser Solomon said of Talia’s project: “It will be a sophisticated and beautifully crafted piece that will be made with the one ingredient that is usually missing, which is love.”

Time, Paper, Bone | Catherine Boulle & Bongani Kona - Winner

South Africa’s Missing Persons Task Team (MPTT) traces the remains of political activists “disappeared” between 1960–1994. Told through the case of Robben Island prisoner James Booi, whose grave was discovered just two months ago, this documentary follows the MPTT as they unearth answers for which families have long been waiting.

Co-Producer: Catherine Boulle is an audio maker, writer and researcher based at the Institute for Creative Arts (ICA), University of Cape Town.

Co-Producer: Bongani Kona is a writer and editor of Our Ghosts Were Once People: Stories on Death and Dying, and a member of the curatorial team at the Archive of Forgetfulness project.

When Catherine and Bongani heard they were winners, they responded: We still can’t quite believe the news! But are overjoyed. This project matters deeply to us and to everyone involved, and we are really honoured to have the generous support of the Whickers to make it happen.

Judge, Pez Andrews said: “Time, Paper, Bone explores a universal experience of the desire for closure, against another prism through which to view the apartheid era. There is also a deep love and sense of connection with the characters, which we felt very strongly through Catherine and Bongani.”

Photo credit: Benjamin Stanwix

Through It All | Stepfanie Aguilar

5-year-old Jayla knows something is up. “My brain is telling me we’re homeless” she announces to her Mum, Janice. It is true. The dream of a life of freedom on the open road has crumbled. With a new-born, a partner and a wise child to care for, Janice finds herself down-and-out in LA. Every moment lovingly documented with the help of her audio producer friend Stepfanie, we are drawn into the warm heart of a family that will reveal more than the statistics can ever show.

Stepfanie Aguilar the director of Through It All and a maker of personal audio documentaries. She is based in Los Angeles, California.

Judge, Leanne Alie said: “It has been a long time since I have listened to audio where the people have moved me this much. It is a great example of how audio can be a platform to tell a story that would otherwise go unheard. This insightful project reveals, in real time, how homelessness can happen to simply anybody, and why.”

When Stepfanie heard she was a winner, she responded: “It’s a huge confidence boost for this work to be recognised and to receive funding for this work is really something I didn’t imagine possible when I first started documenting this story. Janice is super grateful and overjoyed as well!