Invasion of the Pod People
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‘Where do you get your ideas?’
It’s a common question, asked of all kinds of writers and storytellers – and of musicians, artists, journalists. Their answers typically involve some combination of curiosity, hard work and practice. Often, a simple prompt or idea becomes the seed of something unexpected and engrossing.
This event marks the opening of applications for Signal Boost – the Wheeler Centre’s new podcast mentorship and development scheme. This year, applicants will be asked to share a creative response to a theme (to be revealed at this event). To show us how it’s done, we’re inviting a range of accomplished audio makers to share stories, pitches and short audio samples interpreting the theme ‘float’.
Piloted in 2019, Signal Boost offers aspiring audio producers tailored mentorship, practical support, essential tools and professional development – with intensive workshops led by some of Australia’s leading podcasters and radio industry practitioners. It’s about offering time and guidance to develop a unique voice, and a strong set of audio and critical listening skills.
In a special online broadcast, we'll be joined by an outstanding group of audio producers: Helen Zaltzman (The Allusionist, Answer Me This, Veronica Mars Investigations; UK), Daniel Browning (Awaye!), Jess O’Callaghan (Audiocraft, The Party Room, Background Briefing, RN Fictions) and Elizabeth Kulas (Planet Money, 7am, Reply All) – plus musician Becky Sui Zhen, and 2019 Signal Boost pilot participant Ivy Shih.
Together, they'll launch Signal Boost 2020, toast the open-ended power of audio storytelling and celebrate the act of creating great ideas from small beginnings. Hosted by Wheeler Centre audio producer Beth Atkinson-Quinton.
The 2020 Signal Boost programme is supported by the Ian Potter Foundation and LOM.
This event will be available to watch on this page.
It’s an uncertain moment for the arts, for writers and for everybody. If you’re in a position to support our efforts to bring you books, writing and ideas from a safe distance, you can make a contribution here. Thank you for your generosity.
Helen Zaltzman is the award-winning host and producer of the entertainment podcasts The Allusionist, Answer Me This and Veronica Mars Investigations. She has performed on stages across Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada and the UK, and has been a correspondent on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 4 and Sky News. She has co-authored two toilet books.
Daniel Browning is an Aboriginal journalist, radio broadcaster, sound artist and writer. Currently, he is produces and presents Awaye!, the Indigenous art and culture program on the ABC’s specialist journalism and arts network Radio National. Awaye! surveys contemporary Indigenous cultural practice across the arts spectrum. A visual arts graduate, Daniel is also a widely published freelance writer on the arts and culture.
Ivy Shih is a science writer based in Sydney. A former virus researcher, she now writes about all areas of science – from coconut-cracking megabats to giant viruses. Her work has appeared in Cosmos, Nature, Australian Geographic and The Best Australian Science Writing 2017 & 2019. She loves museums, archives and finding stories from the little things in life.
Jess O’Callaghan is Festival Manager and podcast producer at Audiocraft, and producer at ABC RN Fictions. She has worked on news and documentary programs across commercial, community and public radio as well as independent podcasts. She likes crafting strong narratives in audio journalism, conjuring new worlds with audio fiction and strives to achieve omniscience by listening to all your podcasts.
Elizabeth Kulas is an audio host and reporter. In 2019, she created and hosted 7am, a daily news podcast from Schwartz Media. Before that, Elizabeth lived in New York, where she worked for NPR's Planet Money podcast and Gimlet Media's Reply All. In 2016, while working at NPR, Elizabeth won a Peabody Award for coverage of the Wells Fargo banking scandal.
Throughout her discography and performances, experimental pop and performance artist Sui Zhen has zoomed in on the intersections between human life and technology – how to exist in the digital age, as well as the ways in which we risk losing true sight of ourselves in the process.
As sound and music supervisor for Art Processors, Becky collaborates with programmers, designers and storytellers to meaningfully incorporate technology into visitor experiences for art galleries, museums and cultural organisations. Her goal is to inspire deeper engagement to artworks or artefacts by drawing on the emotive landscape, taking a cinematic approach to experience design.
Beth Atkinson-Quinton is the Wheeler Centre's audio producer, and a broadcaster, audio producer, and artistic programmer living and working on the unceded lands of the Kulin Nation.
Beth is the co-founder of podcast network Broadwave where she mentors emerging audio producers. Beth presents weekly storytelling show The Glasshouse on Triple R, and is the former Creative Producer of Express Media, where she managed the annual program of events, publications, prizes, and fellowships.
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.