“Because a lot of producers come from a journalism background, they mostly think about the words. I love that he spent so much time speaking about the sound”, I said to someone over drinks at the end of #ozpod2019 today.

We were talking about Dan Blank, creator of the fiction podcast, “Carrier”. Dan, incidentally, has worked mostly in the film industry, virtual reality and such, and this is his first major exploration of audio.

“We have a lot of people in our area with a previous film or vision background, and they make some of the best radio short features, using wonderfully layered sound, often much better than some who have worked exclusively in radio”, I added. I’m not sure why. Perhaps because they’ve often worked predominantly with images, sound presents them with a whole new creative canvas?

It was fascinating to attend this conference for the fourth year in a row, and in particular, to note the evolution of the podcast industry.

True Crime podcast panel talking about fraudsters.

True crime podcasts are still extremely popular, and there was a terrific panel featuring three people who’ve created recent podcasts. One in particular, I’d call out is “Snowball”, which is about the real-life experiences of Ollie Ward’s family who were taken in by a trickster. It’s great listening, and in particular, revelatory hearing how his family really opened up over what was, clearly, an embarrassing situation.

“The key to successful fraudsters is the personal humiliation which makes people not want to talk about this stuff”, Ollie commented.

Another journalist, Greg Bearup who works for “The Australian” spoke about the backgroud to his podcast, “Who The Hell Is Hamish?” which is also about a real life trickster known to his friends and family.

I smiled as he spoke about what it’s like to be a journalist, with thirty years experience, working at the moment. “You feel like you’re the crab in a Chinese restaurant, waiting for the hand to reach in, pick you up and take you away. I just wanted to stay relevant”.

Greg described his interview with a seventeen year old girl as “the most extraordinary of my thirty year career”.

My awesome colleagues, Ian Walker and Kellie Riordan from ABC Audio Studios

Throughout the day there were lots of other handy tips for those currently making, and those aspiring to make podcasts.

Andrew Davies, for example, said the research indicated the online headline and personal recommendations are the top drivers for listeners to try new podcasts, over and above things like cover art and even the actual audio itself.

Marc Fennell noted that in the area of putting together a complex and long-term project that, “having a one line clear reason about what story you’re hoping to tell will get you out of hell every time”.

The interesting development in the podcast space right now is narrative fiction.

One of the panel members talking about this has noted it’s no longer, “knock knock, who’s there, come in” which may have been the style of earlier radio drama.

“People have learned a sophisticated cinematic language since the 1930s and 1940s”, Dan Blank noted, as he spoke about the way this type of audio drama needs to keep pace with the time.

Rachel Fountain from ABC Audio Studios speaks with Dan Blank, creator of the Carrier podcast.

As a “sound guy”, I was fascinated as he spoke about a type of audio recording techniques which can give you a “3D-sound”, which is more natural to the human ears than simple left-right stereo.


As well as catching up with some friends and colleagues from interstate, attending the conference also gave me an opportunity to meet some people who I’ve only ever known through email, phone and video conferencing. There were hugs.

“You know what the best thing about attending a podcast conference is?”, I whispered to a colleague during one of the sessions. “Conference speakers actually know how to speak into a microphone properly!”.

The worst (or perhaps the best) podcast submission received by the ABC.

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