Invasion of the Pod People
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As podcasts go, award-winning British show The Allusionist is a logophile’s dream.
Ever heard of Toki Pona (said to be ‘the smallest language in the world’) or indefinite hyperbolic numerals (‘zillions, jillions or squillions’)? Have you questioned Western yogic deployments of ‘namaste’, opening lines on dating apps, or dating systems of the BC, AD and BCE kind? Producer and host Helen Zaltzman is here for you.
A veteran podcaster if ever there was one – beginning with the long-running, hugely popular indie podcast Answer Me This! in 2007 – Zaltzman started making The Allusionist in 2015. In each episode, she rumbles with language with infectious verve and a generous helping of pop culture.
In her first Melbourne live appearance, Zaltzman brings her witty, effortlessly informative show to the Wheeler Centre, with musical support from Martin Austwick. Join her for a fascinating and irreverent adventure into the world we make with words.
Helen Zaltzman is a multiple award-winning podcast host and producer. Her linguistics podcast The Allusionist was the first show created especially for the prestigious Radiotopia network. Answer Me This, the comedy show she co-founded with Olly Mann in 2007, is one of Britain's most successful independent podcasts.
Martin Austwick is a podcaster, musician and singer-songwriter, and has released albums as Pale Bird, The Sound of The Ladies, Martin Austwick and songs about science as Dr Martin Austwick. He has performed music live for The Allusionist, 99% Invisible, and the Third Coast International Audio Awards, and contributed music for a number of podcasts including The Beef and Dairy Network. His podcast about every Tom Waits song is called Song by Song.
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.