The Podcast Awards Scandal? – Hatting the System

So I’m going to attempt to tell this story by just using facts. To provide full disclosure, I was nominated in the Education category and lost. The weird thing is I didn’t lose to Grammar Girl. That is what I expected as – let’s face it – when you’re an answer on the TV show Jeopardy!, you’re probably going to beat my little podcast about podcasting. So here are some facts.

Todd Cochrane (the man behind the podcast awards) had attempted to sell the awards to the New Media Expo. While the New Media expo controlled them last year, due to other circumstances the control of the awards was returned to Todd.

The Podcast Awards show website was out of date. That is why Todd Cochrane launched a Gofund me campaign to redo the site. He is looking for $25,000 to redo the site. When you host a site that has voting on it, it is not your typical website. There is lots of extra security and tools needed to attempt to keep out people who would game the system (cheat). I once had a website ( where there was almost no prize, and people would cheat like crazy. I went through probably 5-7 scripts before  I shut down the site.

Two more facts: I’m a Brian Ibbot fan, as I’ve known him since the very first podcasting event in Ontario California. I’m also a big Todd Cochrane fan as we also go “way back.”

The Podcast Awards:

“The People’s Choice Podcast Awards is designed to allow fans to show their appreciation by nominating their favorite shows. Then through a peer / listener review process of the top 25 nominated shows, a slate of 10 podcast for each category is determined. Daily voting for a 2-week period is designed to show engagement and allow show of all sizes to compete for a Podcast Award. Through listener engagement the true power of podcast audience ultimately determine the annual winners.

The 11th Annual that will recognize the best podcasters in the world by allowing the people (Listeners and Podcasters) to nominate, and then vote for their favorite podcast.”

The Rules

For the nomination process, ” The nomination page can only be filled in once. IP and Email tracking is in place along with other anti-cheating mechanisms. Each nomination will be verified by email which will require a confirmation by web based url.” According the rules, “Voting will last for 15 days, and listeners can vote once a day.”

The Diamond Club Plan

The Diamond Club (featuring a picture of Brian Ibbot) has a reddit group. They got together and voted on who they would vote for as a group (if you wanted to).

Voting Results

The full list was as follows:

Peoples Choice -No Agenda
Arts – The Beerists
Business -The Bizarre Briefing
Education -Scam School
Entertainment -We Have Concerns
Games & Hobbies -The Angry Chicken
GLBT -Diary of a Trans Woman
Government & Organizations -Politics Politics Politics
Kids & Family -Hypothetical Help
Music – Joe and Meg’s Musical Adventure
News & Politics – No Agenda
Science & Medicine – Weird Things
Society – Culture – The Phileas Club
Sports & Recreation -Mat Men
Technology – Hak5
TV & Film -Cordkillers

If you had any issues you could contact @HatTheSystem which is a twitter account with Brian Ibbot’s face across the top header. The purpose of the twitter account was to remind people to vote.

According to this website (and per Brian on his show The Morning Stream) this is the second year they’ve use this tool. The first year they were 7/7 for the shows they supported.

This year they were 14/17 shows (82%). According to Brian, he had nothing to do with the technology. It was created by a listener. He did acknowledge that his face is all over the branding of the tools. Here is the episode where Scott and Brian talk about the awards ceremony

So What Did They Do?

They made a Bookmarklet. What is a bookmarklet?

“a small software application stored as a bookmark in a web browser, which typically allows a user to interact with the currently loaded web page in some way.” – wikipedia.

In this case it made it easier to vote for their selected shows. It didn’t automatically populate anything. It didn’t submit the vote. All it did was help point out who to vote for, and type in the voter’s email address for them.

Then they trained their community how to use it

Is It Cheating?

If you have a contest that involves getting something off a top shelf, and someone comes in with a step stool, is it cheating?

Did the rules say you’re not allowed to bring in a step stool? No? Then I guess it’s not cheating.

Even if everybody else was going to do it without standing on any kind of stool.

It reminds me a bit of performance enhancing drugs in sports. If it’s not illegal, then it’s not cheating and you better take these drugs if you want to compete (even if they shrink your testicles).

There seemed to be a “It’s not how you play the game, it is if you win or lose” vibe when I listened to the Morning Stream this morning. Oops, I’m getting away from facts and mixing in opinion.

In the end, each of the votes had to be confirmed by a person. If you used the tool and wanted to deviate from the default settings you could. It was all voluntary.

Sure, they made it easier to start your voting process, but they still needed to be confirmed via email to make them count.


It’s About an Engaged Audience

If the goal of the podcast awards was to see who had the most engaged audience, then here again the Diamond Club wins. I know my audience didn’t offer to build a tool to make it easier to vote. I didn’t setup a special twitter account for those who wanted reminders to vote. You can’t argue that they have the most engaged audience.

I am Confused By the Motive

On one hand, the Diamond Club seems to despise the awards. They thought they were stupid. In one chat room I saw:

+ArtgineerKAPT_Kipper, eh, you’d have to prove the podcasts award are relevant in the first place lol when I looked at his Twitter feed I saw this:


Nothing Lost

That leads me to believe they did this to bring the awards down.

If the awards suck, then why go through so much trouble to win one?

What is the point of winning 82% of the awards to pee all over them?

That doesn’t make much sense to me.

You will see the comments in the video below as they watched the presentation were not kind.

Podcast Awards Hatting the System Version

Quick Reactions Are Often Not the Best

The first response from the Awards upon hearing about the bookmarlet was “Cheated Exposed during awards ceremony. We are going to proceed with an Investigation. An Illegal Off-site voting system apparently was used.” Later this was changed to a message that explained that a bookmarklet had been used, and that this makes a show more educated in a specific field (bookmarklets), but not a better show. Later another update to the podcast awards stated, “If some feel an apology on out negative reaction to this tool so be it we apologize. This tool will invoke significant change though, if the awards survive. ”

Whack the Mole

As someone who has lived through the hell of the podcast awards (I helped Rick Calvert when they were part of the New Media Expo), my hat goes off to Todd Cochrane as this is A TON of work. I’m sure Todd will come up with some new rules, people will complain, some will say its fixed, and the cycle will repeat. The next year, Todd will adjust the rules, someone will find a loop hole, people will complain, some will say its fixed, and well, I guess that is our society.

Would I blame Todd if he quit putting in the effort? No. Would I be sad? Yes. The Awards are like that Annoying Uncle at the picnic. He is kind of annoying (the voting process), but picnics would be so different without him. It is cool when you see “little independent” podacasters occasionally take down a giant corporate team.

Is the Diamond club filled creative geniuses, or did they overstep the bounds of fair play? The goal was to get your audience to vote for you. They did. They made it easier. They announced it on twitter, showed what they were going to do on YouTube (via an unlisted video – so you could share it, but it wasn’t 100% public.). Here again we are walking a fine line of what “Secret” means.

It gave them an advantage.

Unfair advantage?

That is up to you to decide.

New Podcast Because Of My Podcast – Shoot Me Up the Charts of New and Noteworthy!

Every wonder why you should start a podcast? Well I’m here to help you answer that question. I have a segment on my School of Podcasting show where my audience explains the opportunities they have had come their way because of their podcast. Here is a quick playlist

If you want to help me get into the Magical Land of Unicorns and Fairy dust known as New and Noteworthy (I would seriously like to bump up the charts to see exactly what the effect is – which I think is nothing but won’t know until I’m up the charts). So please Subscribe, Rate and Review, the show Here

Subscribe to Because of My Podcast in iTunes

Hustlers Selling Hustle – This Video Hits the Nail on the Head – It HAS TO STOP

Are you stoked? Are you ready to stay up till 4 AM to prove you’re serious? Are you ready to sacrifice your spouse and kids to show that you’re a real entrepreneur? Well then you’re an idiot. Check out this video.

I at one point listened to the Fizzle show, but quit cause there was too much “yuck yuck” for me. But this video makes me want to give them another chance.

You want some motivation? You want to work hard and pull yourself up by your bootstraps? You want to get up before everyone else and hustle early in the morning and late into the night? You want to earn? You want to burn the midnight oil and kill it out there?

Fine. But be SMART about it. Here’s 3 reasons why unbridled hustle is hurting us all.

Listen to the #AntiHustle podcast:…

Listen to the “Daily Productivity Tip” episode:…

While we are talking hustle. This is pretty darn funny

Ready To Start Your Podcast?

The School of Podcasting opens for Registration June 1. We have some podcasting 101 webinars at

5 Podcasts Worth Checking Out.

It seems like every time any press happens about podcasting the same shows are mentioned (Marc Maron, This American Life, Nerdist, 995 Invisible, Radiolab). These are all good shows, but there are great shows created in people’s closets, dining rooms, without a staff of 18 behind them, they deserve the spotlight as well. So here are some podcasts I listen to, and why.


Red Podcast

redpodcast-graphic3000x3000at72-under500According to their website, “The focus of RED Podcast is to help you reach, expand, and develop your audience. If you’re a blogger, podcaster, speaker, marketer, non-fiction author, and other creative entrepreneur who wants more impact, influence, and income, this podcast is for you.’

This is why I like this show. Yes, it is a marketing show, but it’s NOT an interview show (you can do that?). Host David Hooper spent years in the music industry, has written a ton of books, shares his insights into marketing. He has great episodes titles like, “Marketing Lessons from ISIS,” “My War on Christmas,” and “Why Dave Ramsey Blocked Me On Twitter (And Why It Was A Good Idea)

It’s always well thought out, and the other thing I like about it is I don’t always agree with him. It’s a different point of view, and if I’m going to grow as a person and marketer, I need to be open to fresh ideas. In the end, it makes me think.

Check out the show in iTunes or his website

Leaning Toward Wisdom

Leaning-Toward-Wisdom-1024x1024This is a hard podcast to describe, and that’s a good thing. The tag line is Modern Tales of Ancient Pursuit. Host Randy Cantrell walks you through your own mindset as you ponder what you are, where  your going ,and why. In between thought provoking segments Randy plays music that ties in with the theme of the show. As I just found this podcast, I have gone back and download a ton of old episodes. After dinner, I go down to a lake by my apartment, walk around and listen to Randy and he makes me think. He makes me go, “hmmmmm.” While other podcasts give me insights into other people, this podcast helps me gain insights into me. I’ve only listened to a few, but I really like the episode about Being a Buffalo and knowing what is wrong.

Check out Leaning Toward Wisdom in iTunes or his website

The Computer Tutor

computer-tutor-podcast300x300Scott Johnson produces this show. I love this show because it’s quick. Scott comes in, gives a tip for your computer or some cool website stuff and gets out. He uses the podcast to promote his computer repair business without making it a giant commercial. He has all sorts of hacks and shortcuts. I think one of my favorites is when I go to a website that has me go through page after page instead of giving me one long page to scroll down. Scott pointed out that if you click on the print button, this typically puts all the information on one page (even if I don’t want to print it). An example of his show is “The key to hit when your lost in Windows 8 or Windows 10.” 

Check out Scott in iTunes or on his website.

No Agenda Show

noagendaThis show will change the way you watch television. I know now I see so many “news” stories that are commercials. Hosts Adam Curry (you know the guy who helped invent podcasting), and John C. Divorak (well known tech writer who has a background in everything) disect the media. The really cool thing is they harness the power of a global audience and get lots of different viewpoints that you just don’t get from a US only view. Case in point, there for a while there were tons of stories about how trains were good and planes were bad. These seem to always run on NBC. Who owns NBC? General Electric. What do they make? Trains. In reality the stuff they talk about on this show is what the news should be talking about on the news, but instead we get Kardashian updates and stories of another athlete flunking a drug test. Meanwhile congress is doing all sorts of nasty stuff. This isn’t conspiracy theory tin foil hat stuff either. It’s amazing to watch them predict the news, and watch it come true.

The show is long, but always entertaining (lots of jingles, and its fun listening to John try to pronounce countries). The content is so valuable that they have people on a weekly basis giving them thousands of dollars in donations. Their shows notes are super detailed, and this is the kind of information you want to share with your friends. Check it out at

Check them out in iTunes or on their website

Faith Family Church Audio Podcast

faithfmaily170x170This is not your Grandpa’s sermon. Pastor Mike Cameneti explained in one “teaching” (he doesn’t use the word sermon) how he use to put Acid on his eyelids as a teenager. So if you want to learn about God, and more importantly how the bible can be used in your day to day life (without being Joel Osteen’s Happy Jesus Man routine) then check out this podcast. Full disclosure, this is the church I go to, but it’s also the reason I go to it. It’s bible based teaching, that makes me think and I can use in my life to be a better person.

Check it out in iTunes more info on their Website

Podcasting: It Takes More Than Passion

I’m reading a book by Mark Sanborn called Fred 2.0 – New Ideas on how to keep delivering extraordinary results. It talks about going above and beyond in serving your community. In it he asks these questions to help you identify your passions:


“What do you love so much that you would do it for free?

What irritates you enough to take action?

What fields of study interest you most?

Are there certain groups of people you tend to be drawn to?

What do you want to be remembered for?

What would you do if you had unlimited resources?”


While we all agree that you NEED passion for your topic, you do need MORE than passion.


It also takes some skills. If I’m having surgery, I don’t want someone who just LOVES to cut people, I want someone with focus, direction, a plan, and skills. Does this mean you can’t start podcasting until you get comfortable behind the mic? Absolutely not. What it might mean, is it might take some time to develop that audience as you build those skills. In the book by Valerie Geller Creating Powerful Radio – Getting Keeping & Growing Your Audience she states, “It takes about three years to build a talk station.” Do you have the passion to do this for three years?

In addition to passion you need to create content that doesn’t leave a rash. Your audio can’t be abrasive. If you’re creating video, you need great audio and great lighting. Do you need a big deep voice, or a soothing voice? No, but it can’t be irritating. What is irritating? Well that is subjective (there is no one size fits all). I unsubscribed from a podcast because the interviewer repeated everything his guest said. The guest would say, “So I graduated and got a job six weeks later.” The host would then say, “That’s great! You had a job six weeks out of college.” The interview was twice as long as it needed to be. I was yelling at the dashboard, “I heard them the first time!” I also unsubscribed from a show where it was just obvious that the host was reading to me. Get someone besides your Mom to listen to your show. For me (all opinion here) it was irritating.

Your Audience

You should be focused on your audience – not you. Your episodes should be about topics that they want to talk and hear about. How do you know what they want? You need to go into that community and discover the hot topics in those circles. This will take time.

Quit “winging it.” Steven Spielberg has an editor. Steve King has an editor. In 2005 when podcasting first came on the scene you could take that stick of a microphone that came with your laptop (or heck just use the built in microphone) and go for it. You could press record and the “two guys, one brain” podcast was launched. We were all mesmerized that it was so “real,” and so “unlike radio.” That was, and IS one the coolest things of podcasting. It’s intimate and real.  The more I interview people who are not only succeeding in the download area – but in the bank deposit area, I see where they are taking it serious. They days of using the built in microphone, throwing your episodes on a free web host and hoping for the best will not provide the results they did in 2005. I’ve said it before, Milton Berle was “Mr. Television” in the 1950’s because the dude was up against a test pattern. What were there maybe three channels?

You Still Need To Promote

You need to promote your show. Maybe your last episode answers a specific question. Now it’s time to find out who is asking that question, and let them know it exists. When you are planning on launching a podcast, be sure to factor in just as much time to promote your show as it takes to create it. Do a web search for the question you just answered. See what pages come up, and then go there and make friends. Once you’ve made friends, then (and only then) point them to your episode. That’s a lot of work.

Why do doctors put up with no sleep and 8+ years of school? Aren’t they are aware of the huge medical malpractice insurance bills in their future? Because they have a passion to help people. They put in the long hours, hard work, and endless pressure because of their drive. Without it, they would never make it. Why do we go through the struggles of scheduling people on a global clock, editing, writing show notes, tweeting, tumbling, instragraming, facebooking? Because we have the drive, and we don’t mind the hard work. For some, it’s part of the service to the audience. We enjoy it.

Podcasts are Like Children

When podcasting first came out there was little competition. When I started, Rob Walch had podcast411, and I started the School of Podcasting. That was it for “Podcasts about podcasting.” Since then there have been 22 additional “podcasts about podcasting,” and most of them are DOA. Why? Because it takes more than passion. It takes more than niche. It takes a lot of hard work. I invite everyone to start a podcast about a topic you are passionate about. But I don’t lure you in with promises of giant wads of cash. I want you coming in with your eyes wide open, your sleeves rolled up, and a willingness to work.

Podcasts are a lot like children. They are a lot of work, but they also provide “one of a kind” experiences that you will remember your entire life.

Dave Jackson has been helping people launch successful podcasts since 2005. His podcast “The School of Podcasting’s Morning Announcements” has been downloaded over 1.2 million times. He speaks at media events and is the author of the book “More Podcast Money” He runs the School of Podcasting ( and wants to help you with your podcast. Brand new to podcasting, check out his Planning Your Podcast Course on