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On a night celebrating the best podcasts of the last year, encompassing true crime, comedy, food, fitness, sports and music topics, some big Hollywood names came out on top.
At the first-ever iHeartRadio Podcast Awards, held Friday night in Burbank, Dax Shepard, Queer Eye‘s Jonathan Van Ness, Jana Kramer, Bobby Bones and Charlamagne Tha God were among the winners, having transitioned their talents from film and TV into the podcast arena.
Shepard, who won Breakout Podcast honors for his hit show Armchair Expert, joked with the competition during his acceptance speech, declaring that fellow nominee Dr. Death was “robbed — bullshit, no way our show is better than Dr. Death.”
“The one thing I’m really proud [of] about our show is when we do live shows and people who listen ask questions, what you learn really quickly about them is that they’re trying to show us they’re vulnerable, too; they’re trying to show us their imperfections and their flaws and I’m very very proud of that,” he continued. “I’m very happy to receive this and I think we’re in a really cool space. I think I talk about podcasts with people as much as I talk about shows I’m bingeing, so I hope everyone here is proud of what they’re doing because it’s really great.”
Charlamagne Tha God, who also hosted the award show with Bones, Mario Lopez and Holly Frey, told The Hollywood Reporter that he planned to approach the evening with positivity, and thinks podcasts have become such a phenomenon in recent years because people are seeking on-demand entertainment now more than ever.
“I think it’s a quick way to get entertained, it’s a quick way to get informed, it’s a lot more intimate,” said The Breakfast Club host. “We live in this age of transparency where people want to know more about certain individuals, and I think a podcast allows for that because it’s such longform conversation.”
He added that he had listened to Shepard as a guest on Dr. Phil’s podcast just this week and although he hadn’t known Shepard beforehand, hearing him speak openly across an hourlong episode made him a fan and feel like the two connected.
Topher Grace told THR on the show’s red carpet that after a positive experience as a guest on Anna Faris’ Unqualified podcast, he has decided to start his own, which will drop in March and be titled Minor Adventures With Topher Grace. The podcast will operate under Faris’ Unqualified umbrella and also feature her co-host and producer Sim Sarna.
“The format is really cool because it’s these little mini adventures every week,” Grace said. “I just became a dad, so I’m doing, like, nothing. This is what everyone should do and hopefully listeners feel the same way, where you get to try something new. We’ve had a lie detector test in there, we’ve written a pop song with a real pop songwriter, a DJ came on, we did a seance — every week it’s something new.”
Sarna added that the show will feature a celebrity guest every episode, with early guests including Faris, Whitney Cummings, Paul Scheer and Nina Dobrev. “It’s a very unique format, especially for audio, I haven’t seen anything like it, especially with celebrities,” he said. “We’re very excited to see if it actually works.”
Grace, who also named Shepard’s podcast as one of his favorites, said that he thinks the podcast boom is because “they’re very easy and inexpensive to make, and I think they’re good for totally different reasons. As I’m learning through Sim, it takes a lot of work and it’s made to look easy, but it’s a lot of work and can be really rewarding.”
Other Hollywood projects were a big part of the night, including Dirty John, the podcast adapted for the Bravo show of the same name starring Connie Britton and Eric Bana. Marvel even took home an award for best scripted podcast with Wolverine: The Long Night, and Slate’s Slow Burn won the top prize for podcast of the year.
The 90-minute show, which included 22 categories, was live-streamed on Twitter. Grace, Dr. Drew Pinsky, Mike Tyson and Jillian Michaels were among the presenters.
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