Radio and Audio Funding Award (RAFA) Winners

Before we developed The Podcast Pitch in partnership with Sheffield DocFest, the Radio and Audio Funding Award (RAFA) was awarded annually to an emerging audio producer based anywhere in the world to create an original radio or audio documentary in the English language. A main award of £5,000 plus mentorship from a top industry professional was awarded to an audio documentary-maker to produce a feature-length programme, with £1,000 being awarded to each of our four runner-ups alongside an invite to a series of development workshops.

See our previous winners below.

2022 Winners

2021 Winners

2020 Winners

2019 Winners

2018 Winners

2017 Winner

Sounds Inside

2017 Runner-up

Whickers Winners
Sidra's Diary

2017 Runner-up

The Runner-up Award went to Jodie Taylor from Hastings for A New Normal: Audio Diaries of Syrians in Europe. This series of audio diaries made by Syrians who have recently arrived in Europe, offering an unusually intimate insight into an experience that most will only know of through news coverage.


Sounds Inside

2017 Winner

The £5,000 RAFA went to Tom Glasser from Tring, Hertfordshire, for Sounds Inside. In prison for the first time, many inmates are surprised to discover that they are not only cut off from the day-to-day business of the outside world, but also transported to an alien soundscape. In the company of ex-con Carl Cattermole, this programme will take the listener into a unique acoustic world. Sounds Inside will spend 24 hours inside HMP Brixton, exploring a unique soundscape, from the slamming of metal doors to the silence of the harsh Dickensian architecture.


A £1,000 special prize was also awarded to writer Michelle Thomas from Bala, North Wales, for I’m Not OK, The Mental Health Podcast. This serialised podcast documentary is a journey through the world of mental health as she uncovers the common ground that unites us through our personal struggles.


Stokely in Cuba aka I am a Shit Activist|Isis Thompson

2018 Winner

In 1967, civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael travelled to Cuba where he became fully aware of black people’s global struggle for freedom. Now Isis Thompson, whose family always believed they were related to him, will retrace his footsteps to understand how in these difficult times we can affect global change. 

Isis Thompson is a documentary-maker from North London working in audio and film, with a passion for finding humour in the most serious subjects. 

Judge Sarah Geis said: “At a time when many are experiencing fatigue about how to make the world a better place, Stokely in Cuba uses humour and a personal lens to examine issues with a historical and universal resonance.

Biker Radio Rodcast|Shirshendu Banerjee & Arvinder Singh

2018 Runner-up 

India’s first podcast celebrating motorcycling, the icons and legends, documenting its history through the stories told by members of the community.

Shirshendu ‘Shandy’ Banerjee has worn all the hats in radio, from being a music DJ, producer, programmer and consultant to that of the business head of a radio group. Despite a first class degree in the hotel trade, he walked away from that glittering career in the 1990s to teach himself the skills of radio. Today, after 22 years as an analogue broadcaster, he is busy exploring a new life in digital audio, kneading the content dough to bake newer breads for different communities with his friend and co-presenter Arvinder ‘Sonny’ Singh. He is based in New Delhi, India, and tells The Whickers that he owes his success this far to having a remarkably tolerant wife. 

Judge Nina Garthwaite said: “The Biker Radio Rodcast offers the listener an energetic, unusual and beguiling entry into an unknown world, that of motorcycling in India. We’re revving up to hear more.”


A Perfect Match|Ibby Caputo

2019 Winner

A Perfect Match is the story about who is more likely to live and who is more likely to die after being diagnosed with blood cancer. It’s a personal story about bone marrow transplantation that illuminates a much larger story about racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare around the world.

Producer: Ibby Caputo is an award-winning journalist based in the U.S. and the Senior Editor of the podcast Overheard at National Geographic.

Judge Steven Rajam said: “An important and often overlooked contemporary story told with real humour and verve…with a terrific relationship at its heart.


Hummingbird Stories|Navin Sam Regi

2019 Runner-up 

Set in one of Australia’s three children’s hospices, this is a story of grief and loss.

Producer: Navin Sam Regi is a journalist and educator interested in marrying documentary photography with narrative audio, living in Brisbane, Australia.

Judge Steven Rajam said: “A distinctive treatment of profoundly sad subject matter that avoids mawkishness and offers real, rounded voices the space to tell their story.”


Back and North|Mads Mordigan

2020 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.”


Unmatched Lives|Priyanka Gaikwad

2020 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’.”

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!