Ladies and Gentlemen: Your Podquest Semifinalists

Earlier this year, PRX’s Radiotopia launched Podquest—an open call out for new podcast ideas, aiming to grow and diversify the network, nurture fresh talent and reach new audiences. Podquest is one of a series of new initiatives funded by girl-podquest-darka $1 million grant received in May 2015 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Podquest is additionally supported by Hindenburg Systems, the media talent network, and Blue Microphones.

We suspected we’d get a lot of submissions—seems like everyone has an idea for a podcast these days, right? Apparently so.

Check out the numbers!

  • Podquest submission window in months: 1
  • Total Podquest entries: 1,537
  • Submitter home countries: 53
  • Entries submitted in the final 24 hours: 1,000+
  • Entries submitted by:
    • Women: 43.1%
    • Men: 50.9%
    • Couldn’t tell (either unisex names or not obvious): 6%


11 reviewers (from PRX and Radiotopia) worked to identify 10 semifinalists, or the “PQ10” from the 1,537 entries, with these criteria in mind:

  • Originality and strength of idea
  • Diversity of producer: background, voice, age, geography
  • Production quality and/or potential demonstrated by audio clip
  • Sustainability of idea
  • Sparkle factor—how/why did an idea stand out?
  • Relevance and uniqueness for Radiotopia network

Each semifinalist will receive:

  • $300
  • Office hours with Radiotopia producers
  • Two-year PRO account + Field Recorder app from Hindenburg Software
  • One-year membership to the media talent network AIR
  • Yeti microphone by Blue Microphone
  • Two-year PRX account

PQ10 by the numbers:

  • Pitches from women: 5
  • Pitches from a woman/man team: 2
  • Pitches from outside the US: 3
  • Pitches from diverse makers: 7
  • Pitches from people who are not audio producers by trade (yet): 5

Meet the PQ10!

Click to hear their voices, see their photos and read more about the semifinalists.

Dear and Sincerely, by Genevieve Kersten
Unemployed, depressed, and living in her parent’s basement, Genevieve decides to ask the smartest* person she knows for advice… herself.
*Indicates questionable judgement

Do Over, by Kelly Jones, Chioke L’Anson and Claire Tacon
Do Over is the real fake story of how your life could have turned out if you’d just done that one thing differently.

Ear Hustle, by Nigel Poor, Antwan Williams and Earlonne Woods
Ear Hustle brings you the hidden stories of life inside prison, told and produced from the perspective of those who live it.

Meat, by Jonathan Zenti (ITALY)
Meat is a podcast about our bodies and the lives we live because of them.

Reflected Message by Jon Tjhia (AUS)
Perched at the edges of music and radio storytelling, Reflected Message is like an update of ‘folk’—pop-sized experiments with voices, memory, repetition and the everyday.

The Difference Between, by Jericho Saria and Hadrian Santos
The Difference Between dives into the world of “information doppelgängers”—the stuff you always confuse for that other thing—to find out what makes them truly unique.

The Stoop, by Leila Day, Hana Baba, Julie Caine and Chris Hoff
The Stoop is a space where race, identity, fun, funk and journalism come together in a tightly produced podcast that will go deep into issues about black identity that aren’t always openly discussed.

Third Culture, by Naima Sakande (UK)
Third Culture celebrates those who are from everywhere and belong nowhere, unearthing stories of juggled identities.

This Isn’t Working, by Susie Cagle
This Isn’t Working is a show about “making a living” in the U.S. in an age of corporate domination, industrial transition, and general labor weirdness.

Villain-ish by Vivian Le
Villain-ish is a show about gaining new perspectives on dubious figures that we’ve been taught to revile, and exploring the hidden details we may have never considered.

What’s next?

While we recover from whittling down the entries, our Radiotopia producers have been busy conducting “office hours” with the PQ10 and will continue to interview over the next few weeks. We’ll choose three finalists who will each receive $10,000 and editorial and technical support, to produce three episodes of their proposed shows between July – October. This fall we’ll invite at least one finalist to join Radiotopia… don’t worry, we’ll let you know all about it then.       

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