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The Tumultuous, Awkward Quest to Become the Oscars of Podcasting

With support from the likes of Spotify and Amazon, the Ambies take aim at the top of an increasingly crowded awards circuit

The Ambies podcast awards at the Mayan theater in Los Angeles on March 22. 

The Ambies podcast awards at the Mayan theater in Los Angeles on March 22. 

Photographer: Charley Gallay/Getty Images/The Podcast Academy

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Inside the Mayan Theater in downtown Los Angeles, journalist Sam Sanders gazed down at the trophy in his hands. “It looks like an Oscar,” he said, grinning. 

It was a Tuesday night in March, several days before the 94th Academy Awards, (year of the slap, edition) and in the shadows of Hollywood’s biggest, self-congratulatory spectacle, a lesser known gathering was trying to take root. At the outset, around 5 p.m., a crowd of some 300 guests strolled down a mini red carpet and into the kitschy theater.