LOS ANGELES — The Peabody Awards are going Hollywood.
For the first time in the entertainment honors’ 80-year history, the 2020 Peabody Awards ceremony will take place in the Los Angeles area at the Beverly Wilshire hotel on June 18. The event, usually held in New York, recognizes groundbreaking work in a variety of mediums spanning TV, radio, journalism and more.
“By having an award show that’s convenient for the creative community to come to, it’s just going to allow for more people to be aware of the kind of good work we do,” said Peabody Awards Executive Director Jeff Jones. “It’s hard to get the very, very busy creative people to fly to New York on a weekend.”
Jones stepped up to helm the Peabodys six years ago and has been trying to shift the show to the West Coast for at least three or four years. But uprooting a decades-old institution is easier said than done.
“I’ve been thinking about this for a while,” Jones said. “Often it’s just tradition. Peabody was formed in 1940, when broadcasting simply was constituted by radio. And we had our first award in 1941 in New York, and so when you’ve been somewhere for a really long time, the decision to move to a new space is often not taken lightly.”
While the locale has changed, Jones insists the Peabodys’ tradition of honoring innovation and diversity remains the same. Some of the show’s previous honorees include trailblazing projects and creatives such as Rita Moreno (securing her PEGOT), “Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj,” “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Insecure,” “Jane the Virgin” and more.
He also expressed a desire to distance the Peabodys from other awards that have courted backlash due to a lack of representation for women and people of color among voters, nominees and winners.
“The Emmys, Oscars are always … rightly criticized for being very white,” he said. “We don’t just want to be another craft award. I think we’re trying to show the way that there are diverse and interesting storytellers out there that are critically important to the social conversation we’re having.”
This year’s crop of 60 nominees will be announced in April, and 30 winners will be unveiled in June. Applications to be considered for a Peabody Award are currently accessible on the Peabody website. Additionally, Jones teased some special plans for the ceremony’s 80th anniversary.
“We do hope to have some new things present,” he said. “After about 32 or 33 awards, you have to keep the ceremony crisp and fun, and so we’ll know more about what that’s going to look like later.”
As to whether the move to L.A. will be a permanent one, Jones said it depends.
“We’re giving it a shot to see how it goes,” he said.