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 went to the Walkey Foundations’ Storyology conference in Sydney recently. It’s a gathering and information-blast for journalists and media-makers from Australia and overseas. Despite the slight depression in the air after the news of budget cuts and huge job losses at the ABC, there was still some inspiration to be had.
I really enjoyed the practical sessions like Aela Callan’s (Al Jazeera) ‘writing tight for TV and radio’ and ‘DIY Radio Doco’ with Gretchen Miller (ABC Radio National).
But my favourite session was Geraldine Doogue and David Leser in conversation about personal narratives. They talked about journalists crossing over into the unfamiliar territory of sharing their own story. They highlighted the increasing demand for ‘the personal’ in the media, and journalists’ hesitancy to share their own narrative. As Davis Leser pointed out:
“we set the conversation but never reveal our motivation”
David’s began writing his most recent book as a biography about his father, but it soon shifted to memoir.
“I couldn’t write about him without writing about myself”
He ended up producing a deeply personal portrait of father and son, and the complexities of family. For the first time, he turned his skills of investigation and truth seeking towards himself.
Geraldine shared her reluctance to write a memoir because she doesn’t feel ready to confront her grief over her husband’s death. But David argued that’s the perfect reason to write one. He suggested that writing about grief and writing through grief was the most cathartic way for him to recover after his father’s death.
“the writer’s job is to utter the unutterable and to find the truths that come to all of us….. [and] grief is what unites us. All those walls of separation drop in the valley of grief”
I found these two great thinkers incredibly honest and generous with their own experiences. And it definitely got me thinking more about the positives of being brave and sharing one’s own story, and how it might make us better equipped to help others share their personal story.