“What is Stitcher?” I asked, in reply to the “Click here to set up your account” email. I’d gotten half a dozen complaints, via email and Twitter, from Skeptoid listeners who found that Skeptoid had disappeared from their Stitcher application. I’d had no idea what Stitcher was. My bad, it so happened. Stitcher is a free app that streams your favorite podcasts and other content, plus recommended similar content. And it turns out that, without my even knowing about it, a lot of my listeners already used it and loved it. It’s no flash in the pan; in fact, your next BMW, Chevy, or GM auto will have a Stitcher button to stream your favorite shows to your car stereo wherever you go.
So that’s Stitcher, a significant player in the Internet audio industry. This year they held their first annual Stitcher Awards for podcasts in a number of categories. When I saw the nominees for Best Science, I was intimidated to say the least:
- StarTalk with Neil Degrasse Tyson, a commercial radio program
- Science Friday, a radio program from National Public Radio
- 60-Second Science, from Scientific American
- Ask the Naked Scientists, from the British Broadcasting Corporation and Cambridge University
- Skeptics Guide to the Universe – An independent show run by 5 people.
- Skeptoid – An independent show run by 1 guy.
So, obviously, Skeptics Guide to the Universe and Skeptoid were at a bit of a disadvantage. In an award determined by popular votes from listeners, how could we humble independent podcasters ever hope to compete?? The disadvantage was insurmountable, by all rights. Two independent shows, against four slick, professionally produced, commercially backed programs.
This is where the nature of podcasting shines. The playing field may not be completely leveled, but it’s very close to it. Despite our lack of access to broad mainstream audiences (although both shows are syndicated on a small number of local radio stations), SGU and Skeptoid have been able to consistently stay right up there on the front page of iTunes, rolling with the big dogs — as are a handful of other independent podcasts. It’s a testament to the nature of the medium that good, consistent, quality content, produced by hard working individuals, can win over audiences and win awards like this one.
I’m proud to say that Skeptoid won the Best Science category, and Skeptics Guide to the Universe is listed at the top of the runners-up in the category, which (I hope) means they came in second in the voting (though I don’t know). I congratulate all the independent shows nominated in all the categories (especially my friend George Hrab who deserved more than a “Best Cover Art” nomination), and it was awesome and amazing to share the stage with the other winners of the evening including Chris Hardwick, the BBC, Penn Jillette, Leo Laporte, Ira Glass, Jad Abumrad, NPR, and How Stuff Works. What a night it was. Thanks so much to everyone who voted, and especially to those of you who make Skeptoid possible with your contributions.