Invasion of the Pod People

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at The Wheeler Centre

Like I’m a Six-Year-Old

Tom Ballard’s interview podcast has a smart and deceptively simple premise. The comedian sits down with philosophers, journalists, political figures, activists, writers and fellow comedians and asks them to explain their guiding beliefs and motivations in basic terms – as though talking to a six-year-old.

The task is harder than it sounds. Six-year-olds don’t understand jargon, weasel words or airy obfuscations, and they have almost no experience on which to base assumptions.The formula has produced some fascinating and very funny conversations (if Ballard were truly a six-year-old, he’d be a terrifyingly astute one) with guests including Peter Reith, Alain de Botton, Arj Barker and Nur Warsame – Australia’s first openly gay imam.

Ballard will record his 100th episode live at the Wheeler Centre – with special guest Paul Oosting, National Director of GetUp. Expect a discussion that’s as curious as it is comical.


Portrait of Tom Ballard

Tom Ballard

Tom Ballard is a comedian, writer, broadcaster, actor, philanthropist and philanderer.

In 2009 he became the youngest person ever to win the Melbourne International Comedy Festival's Best Newcomer Award. Since then he's co-hosted the Triple J breakfast show for four years, won an ARIA, supported the likes of Wil Anderson, Stephen Merchant and Danny Bhoy, roasted Jimmy Carr and even filled in for Tony Jones on ABC TV's Q&A . 

While all that's very impressive, you should also know that Tom has quite bad eczema, is scared of going to the gym and can not cook anything at all.  

Portrait of Paul Oosting

Paul Oosting

Paul Oosting is the National Director of GetUp, a one million strong member-driven organisation that has campaigned for progressive policy in Australia for over a decade.

Paul has been with GetUp for six years, driving campaigns on renewable energy, consumer power and the Great Barrier Reef.

Invasion of the Pod People

In the last few years, podcasts have matured into the storytelling format du jour – with a little help from a certain sensationally popular true crime serial (ahem). Yet the surge of interest and excitement around audio features and podcasts has been gaining momentum for even longer, propelled by a diversity of formats.

Take the narrative artisanship of This American Life or the sonic vivacity of Radiolab; the topical deep dives of Slate’s Culture Gabfest or Phillip Adams’s Late Night Live; the animated storytelling of The Moth or Sum of All Parts; or the intimate conversations found in Death, Sex and Money or WTF with Marc Maron. The influence of these and countless other shows can be felt in today’s most interesting podcasts (insert shameless plug for the Wheeler Centre’s own successful forays into richly-produced feature-making, including Andrew Denton’s Better Off Dead, and The Messenger, here). 

Beloved for their sense of proximity, their active listenership, portability and in some cases, ambitiously-crafted audio, podcasts have a unique ability to keep listeners in the company of their own choosing – and to render mundane tasks bearable. And since design show 99% Invisible’s record-breaking Kickstarter campaigns – podcasts have also shown promise in otherwise dim times for media businesses. What’s next for podcasting – and how could it be done better?

In celebration of all things audible, we’re bringing you some of podcasting’s best and brightest to share their thoughts and insights on the art (and business) of listening. 


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