Each year, On Air Fest honors a creative icon whose work has advanced the culture of audio. The Audio Vanguard Award recognizes a creator whose contribution to the storytelling medium has inspired a creative legacy. The award is presented each year, and accompanied by a presentation in front of a live audience of industry insiders and fans.


The 2022 Audio Vanguard Award was presented to Jad Abumrad, founder and co-host of the Peabody Award-winning program, Radiolab. Jad's signature reporting style inflected by music and innovative sound design have inspired a generation of audio creators. His other projects include the Radiolab spin off, More Perfect, and the Peabody Award-winning documentary, Dolly Parton's America.

The presentation was followed by a live interview with Anna Sale, host of Death, Sex and Money. At the end of the interview, cake was distributed to the audience, who stood to sing "Happy Birthday" to Radiolab—which has just celebrated 20 years on air.


The 2021 Audio Vanguard Award was presented to Terry Gross on Friday, April 9, followed by a live interview with comedian Jenny Slate. Terry is of course the host of Peabody Award-winning program Fresh Air. One of the most iconic interviewers of our time, Terry approaches each person she speaks to with a unique blend of intelligence, persistence, warmth, and curiosity. Watch Terry receive the award here.


The Audio Vanguard Award recognizes Ira Glass as a driving, innovative force whose radio show, This American Life, pioneered a new form of audio storytelling. His work sparked the podcasting boom and shaped a new generation of producers, reporters, and artists. Glass was presented with the award followed by a live taping of Design Matters podcast hosted by Debbie Millman taking a deeper look at the significance of his work, and the arc of his career.