Three Radio NZ podcasts have won awards at the prestigious New York Festivals Radio Awards, presented in an online ceremony hosted from New York. The Unthinkable, hosted by Morning Report’s Susie Ferguson, took out the coveted gold award for Personal Lives Podcast, Alison Ballance’s Voices from Antarctica received a silver in the Environment & Ecology Documentary category, and William Ray added to his successes at the 2020 Voyager Media Awards and New Zealand Radio Awards with a History Documentary bronze for Black Sheep, an examination of the shady, controversial and sometimes downright villainous characters of New Zealand history.
RNZ CEO and Editor-in-Chief Paul Thompson says these awards celebrate the quality and breadth of content made by RNZ people.
“RNZ’s Podcast team has gone from strength to strength since it was created in 2016 and having three such different podcasts acknowledged in this top international radio competition is something we can be incredibly proud of,” he said.
“We’re in a great position as a multi-platform media organisation when we can have our audience listen to these stories on air, on our website or on whatever podcast platform they choose. Huge congratulations to Susie, Alison and William on this wonderful recognition of their compelling storytelling, and to all our finalists representing RNZ at these prestigious international awards.”
Presented by Morning Report’s Susie Ferguson and produced by Susie Ferguson and Liz Garton, The Unthinkable tells the story of one family’s experience with loss and heartbreak at the death of a child. Susie Ferguson paid tribute to the family at the centre of her podcast The Unthinkable, Kate and Sam, and their first daughter Wren.
“The podcast wouldn’t have been possible without their unflinching and generous sharing of their story. I am still amazed they agreed to it. If people ask what The Unthinkable is about, I tell them – but also say it’s actually about unending love, for each other, for Wren, and for their whanau. I am enormously privileged to have been told the stories in The Unthinkable, to have been allowed into such personal, painful and private times, and craft them into the podcast series.
“I’m totally stoked and quite blown away the winning the gold. The acknowledgement from the international radio industry is immense.”
The Unthinkable, Voices from Antarctica and Black Sheep are available at www.rnz.co.nz/series or on all the usual podcast platforms.
Meanwhile, west of the Tasman, ABC programs’ Stuff the British Stole and Earshot won gold at the Awards. The ABC Radio National (RN) series Stuff the British Stole, written and presented by Marc Fennell, claimed the gold medal for best history documentary at the annual awards, for its tales of treasures plundered by the British Empire.
The international plaudit came ahead of the premiere of Season 2 of the globe-trotting podcast on 20 October, which the ABC produced in partnership with CBC, Canada’s national public broadcaster.
RN program Earshot won two documentary awards – a gold medal in the health/medical category and bronze in the social issues category – for the intimate and heartfelt “Kangaroo cuddles – life inside a premmie baby unit”. The program, broadcast in January 2021, shared the anxiety and excitement felt by a mother whose baby spent three months in a neo-natal intensive care unit, along with other mothers she shared the experience with.
The ABC’s Background Briefing won a silver medal for Best Investigative Report for the story “How fracking could threaten Australia’s Paris target”, which investigated the true extent of Australia’s fracking emissions.
Cath Dwyer, Manager of RN, said the New York Festivals’ awards showed how compelling Australian content attracts listeners the world over.
“The heady mix of humanity, history and current affairs in Stuff the British Stole, Earshot and Background Briefing highlights the ABC’s commitment to rich audio stories that touch the heart and mind,” she said.
“At a time when so many of us have been stuck at home, such evocative and empathetic storytelling enables us to travel the world and through time. Season 2 of Stuff the British Stole will take listeners even deeper into the stories of important objects that ended up in museums and cultural institutions across the UK.”
Marc Fennell said: “Two years ago I packed my microphone in a bag on a whim heading to London. I never expected that the result, Stuff the British Stole, would grow into what it has. From a Walkley Award nomination to being lauded by podcasting royalty Roman Mars and now winning a gold medal at the New York Festivals.
“Australia’s complex, emotional colonial history is shared with so many nations around the world. It seems only fitting that CBC Podcasts is partnering with us on Season 2.”
Winners of the 2021 New York Festivals Radio Awards were chosen from more than 30 countries by a panel of creative media professionals and content creators.
Fennell also won two gold medals for his podcast series Nut Jobs: Cracking California’s Strangest $10 million Dollar Heist – for Best Serialized Podcast and Best Narrative/Documentary Podcast.