Have You Heard Georges Podcast? makes podcast history as first UK podcast to win a Peabody Award

Posted on 14 June 2020
By Khyle Deen
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Have You Heard George’s Podcast? by George Mpanga, better known as George the Poet, and collaborator Benbrick has won a 2019 Peabody Award, making it the first podcast outside of the United States to win this prestigious award.

The Peabody Awards recognise the most compelling and empowering stories released in broadcasting and digital media and are frequently cited as the most respected award in US media due to the rigour of their nomination and selection process. Out of nearly 1,300 entries, 60 are chosen as Nominees and only 30 are selected as Winners, by unanimous vote of the Peabody Board of Jurors. As part of their citation the jury said (the full citation can be found below):

George Mpanga’s Have You Heard George’s Podcast? is a remarkable and arresting creative engagement with European colonialism and the Black Atlantic consciousness its afterlife produced. Through the portals of poetry, spoken word, music, and speculative fiction, Mpanga, or George the Poet, imagines new horizons of possibility and pushes the boundaries of language and word-play to explore issues of trauma, intimacy, work, art and creativity, belonging, attachment, and meaning in Black Atlantic worlds.

George the Poet said: “To win a Peabody feels like being honoured by storytelling royalty. Our podcast was inspired by greats from different fields who have also been honoured here; it’s a milestone in my career that I never dreamed of reaching so soon. On behalf of my community, I’m grateful for this recognition of our truth.”

Benbrick said: “This recognition from the Peabody jury holds a special significance, not only given the award’s history, and the illustrious alumni of past winners that it has recognised since 1941, but because it offers an international spotlight to help highlight the importance of George’s writing.”

Jason Phipps, Commissioning Editor for Podcasts on BBC Sounds, said: “Becoming the first podcast outside of the US to win a Peabody is a huge milestone for Have You Heard George’s Podcast? and in the evolution of podcasting as a medium with the power to tell stories that resonate, educate and entertain across international borders. The podcast began as a grassroots DIY collaboration and this huge accolade is testimony to George the Poet and Benbrick’s extraordinary creativity and originality. I know I’m joined by others who have supported the podcast at Radio 1Xtra, Radio 4 as well as my team in congratulating George the Poet and Benbrick on this brilliant achievement.”

The highly acclaimed Have You Heard George’s Podcast? has also recently won Best Podcast at the NME Awards, Podcast of The Year at the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, plus seven awards at the 2019 British Podcast Awards.

The Peabody Awards were inaugurated in 1941 as the radio industry’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prizes, expanding in 1948 to include television and in 2001 to include online media. The first podcast to be awarded a Peabody was Serial in 2014 and other winners have included Caliphate (2018), S-Town (2017) and In The Dark (2016), but until now there have been no podcast winners outside of the US.

The thought-provoking podcast features a mix of storytelling, music and fiction to explore powerful themes and issues in Britain and beyond. It has explored themes such as education for disadvantaged young people, the history of black American music, George’s personal relationship with Uganda and Britain, plus his own experience of growing up on a London council estate.

The first two chapters of Have You Heard George’s Podcast are currently available to listen to on BBC Sounds, with the third chapter coming later this year.

Have You Heard George’s Podcast? is produced by Benbrick and George The Poet, commissioned by Jason Phipps and Dylan Haskins for BBC Sounds.

Have You Heard George’s Podcast? is available to listen to on BBC Sounds now.