Documentary Audio Recognition Award (DARA) Winners

We love audio documentary here at The Whickers. Between 2015 – 2019, we ran a documentary audio recognition award (The DARA) to highlight the year’s greatest achievements in the genre. However, our core purpose is to fund emerging talent rather than to celebrate the best of the best, so, once the ARIAs created a documentary feature award we felt that the point had been made. In 2020 we moved the prize money from the DARA into the funding pot for our Radio & Audio Funding Award (RAFA).

See our previous winners below.

2019 Winners

2018 Winners

2017 Winners

A Dancer Dies Twice

2016 Winners

Little Volcanoes
Little Volcanoes

2016 Winner

Cathy for Sky ArtsLittle Volcanoes follows the rhythms of a day at Pilgrims Hospice, Margate, from early morning, meeting Claudia the cat at the end of the night shift to the nurse’s final “goodnight” to her patients. We hear patients as they talk about their illnesses; the things and people they love. Award judge Alan Hall said of the piece: “The artifice is very well hidden, though the use of sound is highly accomplished and people are treated with an open sensitivity. It gives you an insight in to a world that most of us haven’t previously inhabited.” Hear the programme here.

The runner-up was Francesca Panetta from London, for her enchanting audio piece The Dhammazedi Bell. Her documentary, which examines a 400 year old myth claiming that the largest bell in the world rolled to the bottom of the Bago River during an attempted theft, can be heard here.


A Dancer Dies Twice

2017 Joint Winner

A documentary about first and last dances and what happens when an instrument as finely tuned as a dancer’s body begins to change. In this moving audio programme, producer Eleanor McDowall followed ballet dancers from the beginning to the end of their careers, from young dancers training at the Royal Ballet School to former principal ballerinas and one influential dance company that refuses to let age be a limitation. Listen to the full programme here on the BBC Radio 4 website.

Dust Bowl Ballads

2017 Joint Winner

A fierce drought in Oklahoma’s ‘No Man’s Land’ – a region that was the heart of the 1930s Dust Bowl – stirs up dust storms, memories and myths. In this parched terrain of ghost towns and mirages, the wells are running dry but the stories continue to flow. Producer Cicely Fell talked to locals about their memories of growing up in the Dust Bowl, an area once thought to be an elegant, tree-lined Utopia, now a barren land where the storytelling spins out of the landscape itself. Listen to the full programme here on SoundCloud.

The runner-up Audio Recognition Award of £2,000 was awarded to John Fecile for Blink Once for Yes. Aged 20, John Fecile’s younger brother Mike sustained a traumatic brain injury after he leapt from a fourth floor balcony. Four years later, the family made the heartbreaking decision to end his life. This documentary combined interviews and intimate scenes with the family as they looked back on the decision that they made.


The Art of Now: Guantanamo|Sarah Geis

2018 Winner

Mansoor Adayfi spent 15 years imprisoned without charge at the American military prison at Guantanamo Bay. He takes us behind the headlines, telling the story of his years there through the artwork made by himself and other men detained as part of the “war on terror.”

Sarah Geis is an audio producer, editor, and teacher based in Chicago. She is a former artistic director of the Third Coast International Audio Festival.

Judge Michael Stewart said: “This is a great example of how radio can bring a world into being. Beautifully crafted, it tells a shocking story that makes us confront the appalling consequences of choices that our political leaders have made in our name.“

Deaf Heart|Georgia Moodie

2018 Joint Runner-up 

Jodee Mundy is the only person in her family who can hear, and ever since she was little, she has moved between the Deaf community and mainstream society, feeling a little out of place in both.

Georgia Moodie is a producer at Australia’s ABC RN, where she currently makes long-form stories for RN’s documentary programs.

Judge Hardeep Singh Kohli said: “Beautiful told and thoughtfully crafted, Deaf Heart was a kaleidoscope of entertaining, educational and evocative listening. The bringing together of disparate source material, material that could have (in less skilled hands) weighed the narrative down, were seemlessly crafted into a charming and insightful listen.”

The Messenger (Episode 2)|Michael Green & Abdul Aziz Muhamat

2018 Joint Runner-up 

From Behind the Wire and the Wheeler Centre, The Messenger brings you into the Australian immigration detention centre on Manus Island – and reveals, in intimate detail, one man’s experience of what it’s really like to flee tragedy and seek asylum by boat.

Abdul Aziz Muhamat is a 26-year-old man from Sudan who was forcibly transferred to Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, by the Australian government after seeking asylum.

Michael Green is a journalist based in Melbourne.

Judge Johanna Zorn said: “At the heart of this programme is Aziz Abdul Muhamat, an engaging guide to the infamous immigration centre on Manus Island where he is currently a detainee. Evocative and incredibly important, The Messenger creates a level of intimacy that fully immerses the listener in this relatively little-known story.”


A Sense of Quietness|Eleanor McDowall

2019 Winner

A documentary that follows a line of connection through four women across two referendums to explore the unexpected consequences of talking about abortion.

Eleanor McDowall is a Director at Falling Tree Productions, the series producer of Short Cuts on BBC Radio 4 and the founder of Radio Atlas – a podcast for subtitled audio from around the world.

Judge Roger Graef said: “A Sense of Quietness takes you on an intimate journey of a very private matter that became Ireland’s most hotly debated issue. It made the political deeply personal.”


The Quevedos|Sayre Quevedo

2019 Runner-up 

Sayre Quevedo takes us on a journey to understand what happened to his grandmother, the secrets that his mother kept from him, and the family that he never knew.

Sayre Quevedo is an audio documentarian based in New York City whose work focuses on intimacy, relationships, and human connection.

Judge Isis Thompson said: “This is a deeply personal but somehow completely universal story of how families both hurt and protect each other through generations. Lovingly crafted with real heart.