Things I’m making, listening to, and thinking about…
Audiocraft recently launched Ladies Who Listen – a mentoring program for women working in audio. The idea came from the many conversations we have with women who work in the audio industry, and their expressed desire to connect with other professional ladies, and develop their skills and networks.
We had an enormous response! So much so, that we had to close the applications early. In the end we paired 50 women as both mentors and mentees. The program will run for 6 months and we’ll open another round in the second half of the year.
The Guide is an online curation of great Aussie podcasts – a place to discover locally produced content, and find out more about the makers. It’s a work in progress, and we’re adding to it regularly, but it’s nice to have such a great collection of local content in the one place. With so many great podcasts being made around the world, it’s nice to reflect on what’s happening here, and I’m excited to hear how local producers respond to the increasing demand for more great audio.
My co-editor Jon Tjhia (Digital Manager at the Wheeler Centre) and I have been working pretty hard on this project – along with web designer Connor O’Brien – for the last few months, so it’s been fun to finally share it with the world. We were lucky enough to visit the US recently and we spread the word at the Third Coast International Audio Festival. We also spoke with Julie Shapiro (Executive Producer of Radiotopia) at the PRX Podcast Garage in Boston.
We’ve kind of been flying the flag for Aussie podcasts. We wrote an article for The Guardian featuring 7 of our favourite Australian podcasts, and I spoke about the Guide and other nerdy things on RN Afternoons.
I was interviewed by Canadian producer Michelle Macklam for an article she wrote for the CBC’s Doc Project titled When the personal becomes public: the art of making intimate radio documentaries.
After producing her beautiful documentary Longing To Belong – about an adopted woman who reconnects with her biological parents – Michelle had questions about the different approaches and experiences of radio producers who work with these kinds of personal stories. My own PhD research is exploring these same questions, so we had lots to talk about.
There are also interviews with some of my favourite radio producers – Neil Sandell, Mira Burt-Wintonnik, and Tally Abecassis. I really liked the way the article came together. It’s so nice to have all these thoughts and perspectives in one place.
We celebrated our first Audiocraft Awards Night in September – a partnered project with ABC Radio National. We wanted to encourage emerging Australian radio producers to get out there and start making!
The Awards night itself was great – it was so lovely to hang out with audio fans, listen to the winning pieces, and have a little party.
The winners took home cash prizes, Hindenburg Software packages, and were broadcast on RN’s Pocketdocs. But the first place was perhaps the luckiest, they took home the Audiocraft cushion (look carefully below), which was hand-crafted by one of the Audiocraft team mums. Mums are the best.
You can hear the Top 6 on the Audiocraft podcast.
I was part of a panel discussion about how to profit from podcasts at the 2016 Storyology conference. Chatting with Heidi Pett (FBi Radio), Holly Wainright (Mamamia), and Alana Mahony (audioBoom), we questioned if it was too soon to be talking about this in Australia. But the market enthusiasm for podcast content and consistent growth in audience numbers indicates interesting times ahead.
My interest is mostly in independent podcasting and I think there are a few more steps before this can be financially viable in Australia. I’m a big fan of good content being the priority, so supporting producers develop their craft is essential. This is a big part of what Audiocraft is working towards. Once your content is rocking, building an audience becomes easier, but this is often the point where we get stuck…
The standards for podcast audiences are often linked to numbers and download figures coming out of the US, but given the population Australia, we can’t really compete with these. So perhaps it’s reframing the value of podcasts. If the focus was more about the quality of the production, a podcast’s niche and often highly devoted audience, and the unique bond the host has with that audience— then perhaps investors would be more receptive?
If producers can learn more about their audience (cue great analytics) and how to talk about them to potential sponsors, then maybe all the money biz isn’t so abstract. It’s going to be really interesting to see how these things develop in the coming years. It’s a great time for both content makers and listeners, who’ll hopefully be able to access more interesting local content.
I recently presented the creative practice component of my PhD at the International Radio Conference at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. I led a 90 minute listening session and discussion which featured my 2 part radio documentary Murder in a Small Town.
It was a slightly terrifying but incredibly valuable experience to listen to my audio work in a room full of people and receive feedback. It was also great to unpack some of the ideas I’m exploring in my research. After completing the creative practice component of my PhD I’m interested in a closer examination of the relationship between the producer/storyteller and subject/storyteller, how this shapes the documentary process, and in turn, the final documentary product. I feel very lucky to spend more time with these ideas and I’m looking forward to digging deeper over the coming years.
While I was overseas I also visited and interviewed Danish radio making legend Rikke Houd. This recording will contribute to a series of research interviews I’m collecting about the different experiences of radio producers who work with personal narratives in their documentary work. I’m drawing on Rikke’s award winning radio piece Woman on the Ice. There’s a particular sensitivity in this style of radio that I deeply admire, and I loved spending time with Rikke and learning more about her storytelling approaches.
I had a fabulous time at Make Nice, the first Australian un-conference for Creative Women in Sydney, June 2016.
It was great to hear from some incredible power house ladies doing amazing things in their creative industries. Some highlights for me were listening to design goddesses Leslie David (France) and Adi Goodrich (US) talking about how they keep pushing their creative boundaries. And we all had some serious fire in the belly after a panel discussion with Jess Scully, Elizabeth Weinberg, Suzy Tuxen, and Niccola Phillips (pictured below). Another favourite was the un-conferencing breakaway discussions which covered all the biz stuff. I led a round table discussion on not-gross networking, which was decidedly not gross, and extremely fun!
It was so good to have 2 full days to think about getting inspired, keeping inspired, and how to juggle the many hats you need to wear when you’re running your own creative thing. I’m already keeping my eyes peeled for future events!
I’ve just finished up work on a series of podcasts about Australians and their relationship with swimming pools. The final series is featured on RN’s Pocketdocs website.
This project was produced with Aileen Sage Architects as part of their exhibition The Pool which they curated for the Australian Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale of Architecture. Being a bit of water lover myself, this was such a fantastic project to work on. The team did a series of interviews with prominent Australians including Paul Kelly, Ian Thorpe, Shane Gould, Hetti Perkins, Anna Funder, Tim Flannery, Romance was Born, and Christos Tsiolkas. Each explored the personal stories, memories, and ideas that swimming pools hold. Everyone has a pool story, they are places filled with nostalgia and charged with the different experiences of bodies in water and space.
This job was produced in two parts. Firstly I edited snippets of the interview material for the exhibition audio/sound loop. This was mixed with music from Australian composer and percussionist Bree van Reyk. It was designed to travel around the exhibition space, with voices coming in and out of small speakers positioned around an indoor pool installation.
Producers from all over Australia descended on 107 projects for our first Audiocraft conference on March 5th 2016 and it was an incredible! I knew that audio folk were great, but seriously- I don’t think I appreciated just how amazing it would feel to have so many of these awesome individuals in the one place at the one time. Our community of Aussie makers is thriving and it was so great to hear about all the podcast and radio projects people are working on. The room was buzzing with creative energy and good vibes. So good.
Our stellar line up of presenters got the conversations going and my head is still buzzing with all the ideas. Bec Fary and Jon Thjia had us independent podcast dreaming, and Timothy Nicastri and Miyuki Jokiranta took us deep into the wonders of sound design with new skills to boot. Joel Werner and Tiger Webb had everyone talking about sound stories with decomposing pigs, and Sophie Townsend and Jaye Kranz cracked open the mystical box of narrative radio. Our kicker panel on collaborative storytelling with Maddy Macfarlane, Kween G, Gavin Ivey and Giordana Caputo covered all the things we need to think about when working with other peoples stories and how to keep our radio making integrity in check. Then Sherre Delys wrapped the day up with her lyrical wonders reflecting back all the positivity and good times of the day. Stay tuned for the podcast of all the sessions.
It’s going to take a while to come down from this one. And we’re already plotting ideas for 2017….! In the mean time, we can’t wait to hear the entries for our first Audiocraft’s Short Feature Making Challenge
I facilitated a panel on ‘Women in the Australian Media’ at the Centre for Media History’s Gender, Labour and Media Workshop at Macquarie University. The panel included veteran photographer Lorrie Graham, the first female Editor of the SMH Amanda Wilson, and journalist, author and commentator on women in work- Catherine Fox.
They each shared their personal experiences of working in the media, all with disappointing accounts of sexism. The broader discussion about the income disparities between men and women, and the lack of women in senior leadership roles, highlighted that we still have a way to go.
However we also talked about the unique perspective women can offer in storytelling, and how important these voices are in contributing to a more diverse media.
But what I enjoyed the most was hearing that despite the challenges, Lorrie, Amanda and Catherine have all had incredibly exciting careers that continue to this day. It was a really inspiring chat and I was thankful to be a part of it.