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Invasion of the Pod People

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at The Wheeler Centre

Starlee Kine on Storytelling

Starlee Kine’s Mystery Show podcast takes on mysteries with only one condition: they can’t be solved simply by Googling. Why was Britney Spears photographed carrying a copy of an obscure book and had she actually read it? What is Jake Gyllenhaal’s true height, and why’s it so hotly disputed? In the show, produced at New York’s Gimlet Media (also home to StartUp, Reply All and more), Kine leaves no stone unturned.

Kine’s talents aren’t limited to Mystery Show; she’s also known for her stories on This American Life and The Moth, and her essays and articles have also appeared in various publications including the New York Times Magazine. So, here’s our mystery: how did Kine cultivate her very distinctive style of storytelling? What is it about the investigative structure of Mystery Show that appeals to her? And is it the structure, or the storyteller, that causes the show to go off on so many surprising and delightful tangents.

Hosted by Ingredipedia podcaster Ben Birchall, Starlee Kine will offer her take on the art of a good (or revealing, or shocking) yarn – whether written, recorded or simply told.

Presented in partnership with Sydney Writers Festival.


Portrait of Starlee Kine

Starlee Kine

Starlee Kine is a public radio producer and writer. She is the creator and host of the podcast Mystery Show, produced by Gimlet Media. Her other work has been featured on This American Life and Marketplace. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and California Sunday.

Portrait of Ben Birchall

Ben Birchall

Ben Birchall is a writer, broadcaster and creative director who has worked in radio, advertising and digital publishing. He hosted 3RRR FM’s Breakfasters from 2009-2012 and is currently the host of Ingredipedia – a factual food fight podcast that consistently tops the iTunes Australia food charts. His writing has appeared in the Age, Smith Journal and Frankie and his advertising work for clients like NAB, Mars, CUB and the Wheeler Centre has won awards internationally.

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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