Fil-Am podcast “Long Distance” gets Google funding

FilAm podcasters Paola Mardo and Patrick Epino of “Long Distance” are in the first batch of podcasters selected from thousands to be part of the accelerator portion of the Google Podcasts Creator Program (Photos from
FilAm podcasters Paola Mardo and Patrick Epino of “Long Distance” are in the first batch of podcasters selected from thousands to be part of the accelerator portion of the Google Podcasts Creator Program (Photos from

PHILIPPINES – Filipino American podcast “Long Distance”, was selected as one of the first to be included in the accelerator portion of the Google Podcasts creator program.

Produced and created by Paola Mardo, a Filipino American millennial host, “Long Distance”, is an independent narrative podcast about the Filipino diaspora. It was co-produced with fellow FilAm co-producer voice actor Patrick Epino. Recently, Espino starred as Troy, a black sheep family member in H.P. Mendoza’s award-winning dark comedy, “Bitter Melon”, an ABS-CBN Cinematografo Original film in collaboration with Ersatz Film and Gravitas Ventures.

According to the press release by PRX, the six winning teams were chosen from thousands of entries and represent perspectives from around the world. Funded by Google and run independently by PRX, the creator program aims to remove barriers to podcasting, increase the diversity of voices in the industry, and make sure content is available for all audiences through a series of educational programs, including a 20-week podcast training and accelerator program.

The selected teams are:

  • AfroQueer, Nairobi, Kenya (Maeve Francis, Aida Holly-Nambi, Selly Thiam): A reported, narrative-driven podcast about queer Africans living, loving, surviving and thriving on the African continent and in the diaspora.
  • Las Raras, Santiago, Chile (Martín Cruz, Catalina May): This Spanish-language non-fiction podcast tells stories of “The Weird Ones,” the people who live on the margins of society because of their background or life choices, and how these stories challenge social norms.
  • Timestorm, Bloomfield, New Jersey (Michael Aquino, Dania Ramos): This audio fiction series tells the story of twelve-year-old twins, Alexa and Beni Ventura, who travel through time to uncover hidden moments in the history of Puerto Rican culture.
  • Long Distance, Los Angeles, California (Patrick Epino, Paola Mardo): This reported, narrative podcast uncovers unknown histories and present-day realities about life in the Filipino diaspora.
  • The Colored Girl Beautiful, Baltimore, Maryland (Aseloka Smith): Explores black women’s concepts of beauty then and now using Emma Azalia Hackley’s 1916 book The Colored Girl Beautiful as a framework.
  • Who Taught You How To Drive?!, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Tanikka Charraé, Melissa Tsuei, Tezarah Wilkins): A humorous interview podcast about how we get around told through the stories of drivers, walkers, riders, and bikers and their habits on the road.

“The teams selected for the first round show incredible promise, and we couldn’t be more excited to help these producers develop and grow their shows,” says Zack Reneau-Wedeen, Product Manager of Google Podcasts, which launched in June 2018.

“This program is one of the ways we hope to ensure that our millions of listeners have access to a variety of content for all types of global audiences.”

The open application process for the Google Podcasts creator program kicked off in October when we put out the call for podcast pitches via an online application. Google and PRX received thousands of entries from more than 100 countries and covering 17 languages, which were evaluated by a team of expert judges through an extensive selection process.

“The wide response to this global application process demonstrates the growing interest in podcasting around the world,” says PRX CEO, Kerri Hoffman.

“The range of stories from the winning teams is evidence that audio storytelling can open us up to new perspectives. Through the training program and the introductory training videos in multiple languages we will release later this year, we plan to support even more people interested in learning how to capture and share their stories.”

The all-expenses paid training program begins with a one-week intensive course at PRX’s Podcast Garage in Boston later this month during which teams will receive editorial and production training, with a strong emphasis on developing content for real listeners.

Then, armed with assignments and goals, the teams will meet again each month to hone their skills and pitch iterations of their podcast to a panel of experts for feedback. PRX will establish weekly webinars with industry leaders, mentorship through the advisory program, and specific instruction on all aspects of podcasting relevant to their team.

During the 20 weeks, teams will be developing and testing pilot episodes as well as establishing a production and marketing plan. The program culminates in June with a live launch show which will be open to the public.

In addition to the six teams selected for the first round of the accelerator portion of the program, Google and PRX have invited two of the program’s advisory committee members to participate in the intensive training in January. Ramsey George Tesdell from the Sowt podcast network in Amman, Jordan and Paula Scarpin from the Brazilian magazine Piauí in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil represent two areas of the world with quickly growing podcast scenes, the Middle East and Brazil. Their participation in the training will help them better understand how the training program works and allow Google and PRX to understand better the training needs and opportunities in those regions.

Additionally, the Google Podcasts creator program will release a series of Podcast 101 education videos featured in multiple languages and will share case-studies and key learnings from the first round of training.

Google initially announced this program in June 2018 with the launch of its podcast app for Android users. PRX will begin seeking applications for a second round of the Google Podcasts creator program in April 2019.