“There are many ways to climb a mountain. So always keep it moving to find a new path.” I have always loved radio. I would have loved to have been a radio broadcaster. I only started podcasting so I could get into radio. Little did I know that people would later consider me a pioneer in the African landscape. Back when I started, I just wanted to be heard on the radio. Now, I want others to be heard but on digital audio — diverse voices with different stories that can be shared easily. That can be accessible and that can be heard anywhere at any time. This is how I try to disrupt and innovate in my industry.


Film & Media


POC Podcasts

Simmi Areff, 35, strives to create spaces for people of colour to share their stories, in their own voices, on platforms that they control.

He founded POC Podcasts/ All Ears Network (the company is in the midst of a rebrand) with that mission in mind and has grown a network of diverse, intriguing and entertaining podcasts across different genres, such as Bioscope Brasse and Open Wide Say Ah (a sex-positive podcast).

The self-taught podcast pioneer  and comedian started with his own show called Lesser Known Somebodies seven years ago. Simmi makes podcasting more accessible to his communities by training and by curating podcasts led by other hosts.

He is part of an African Union Fellowship, through which he interacts with talented people across the continent to find new spaces, voices and stories to share through the medium of podcasting. Simmi has spent time working with international clients, as well as local businesses, to help them in their podcast journey.

He shares his knowledge by teaching creators how to build their content and offering mentorship, guidance and tools to creators to make great content. Simmi was an AU Media Fellowship recipient for their first-ever cohort for 2022-2023 and won a South African Comedy Award for Best Podcast in 2021.

  • Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies and Philosophy, UKZN
  • Honours in Journalism, University of the Witwatersrand

  • African Union Media Fellowship recipient for their first-ever cohort for 2022-2023.
  •  South African Comedy Award for Best Podcast in 2021. 
  • Pioneer of South Africa’s first-ever independent podcast channel.

My father always told me that I can fail at anything and still come home to a hot plate of food and a roof over my head. I think this has stayed with me forever because I have had so many failures and rejections and bad days but I always had the comfort of being able to go home to a hot plate of food and a roof over my head — which inherently means, I can always start again tomorrow.

Become numb to rejection as quickly as possible.

More electricity, fewer potholes and better service delivery. But I will settle for something easier — different people on television and radio shows. This carousel of the same talent pool is boring.

View previous winners from 2018 to 2022

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