Siobhan McHugh is an internationally recognised podcast producer, documentary-maker, oral historian, writer, journalism academic, podcast critic and podcasting consultant. Siobhan’s book, The Power of Podcasting – Telling Stories Through Sound, is a cultural survey of podcasting as a new medium and industry, a rare insider’s guide to how great narrative podcasts are made and an unashamed love letter to audio storytellers old and new. (free sample chapter here). Recent podcasts on which she was consulting producer (advising on script, narrative structure and sound) include The Greatest Menace, a queer true crime history about a ‘gay prison’ experiment hosted by Patrick Abboud, and Motherlode, a podcast hosted by Greg Muller on early hacktivism, including the back story to Julian Assange. I


n 2022, Siobhan founded the Hub for Innovation in Podcasting, to bring together those who make, study and listen critically, carefully or enthusiastically to podcasts. 


Narrative podcasts Siobhan has co-produced have won six gold awards at New York Festivals. She has given keynotes, talks and workshops around the world on the power of podcasting as a new medium, including to the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (whose members broadcast to over three billion people), the Australian Educational Podcasting Conference (video at 9mins) and the Oral History Network of Ireland (on theory and practice of how to craft compelling audio narrative from interview: video here). 
Siobhan’s article, How Podcasting is Changing the Audio Storytelling Genre, discusses early adaptations of radio to podcasting, while her piece for Harvard Nieman Lab’s Storyboard,  Subjectivity, hugs and craft: Podcasting as extreme narrative journalism, positions long-form investigative journalism podcasts within the canon of Literary Journalism. She also writes regularly for The Conversation on podcasting.
Siobhan has worked closely with The Age newsroom in Melbourne, led by multi-awardwinning journalist Richard Baker, to make groundbreaking narrative podcasts. Collaborations include Phoebe’s Fall (2016), an investigation into the bizarre death in a Melbourne garbage chute of  a young woman; Wrong Skin (2018), about the disappearance of a young couple from a remote Aboriginal community in Western Australia and the collision between culture and power; and The Last Voyage of the Pong Su (2019), about a North Korean drug smuggling operation on Victoria’s shipwreck coast.  All won GOLD at New York Radio Festival, and a slew of other awards.

HIP015 Pong Su production meeting

Siobhan McHugh with host Richard Baker and executive producer Rachael Dexter at a production meeting for The Last Voyage of the Pong Su.
Other podcast projects include Gertie’s Law, an innovative podcast  from the Supreme Court of  Victoria, described by a Sydney Morning  Herald critic as the best podcast of  2019; and Heart of Artness, about crosscultural relationships behind the production of  contemporary Aboriginal art. Heart of Artness was funded by an Australian Research Council grant and an episode won GOLD at New York Radio Festival 2019.

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“RadioDoc Review is invaluable!” (Alan Hall, Falling Tree Productions, UK)

In 2013, Siobhan founded the first journal of radio documentary and podcast studies, RadioDoc Review. Its board comprises top international audio producers and scholars, who periodically select the best audio documentaries, storytelling podcasts and features from around the world. These works receive in-depth reviews, from different cultural perspectives, written by top producers or scholars. The aim is to develop critical analysis of this poorly understood form: to articulate the principles that underpin the best audio storytelling and soundworks.  RadioDoc Review is an open access journal published by the University of Wollongong, Australia, where Siobhan is honorary Associate Professor in Journalism.


Siobhan is also the author of six social history books, over 60 radio documentaries made mostly at the ABC (now available as podcasts), numerous print features and a short memoir. She has also scripted international television documentary. Her best known book (Winner, NSW Premier’s Literary Award) is a social history of the Snowy Mountains HydroElectric Scheme, birthplace of Australian multiculturalism. A new updated edition, The Snowy – A History (New South) was published for the 70th anniversary  of the scheme in 2019. Siobhan was delighted to be interviewed about it  by Richard Fidler, the most popular podcaster in Australia. Her associated children’s book, Snowy (Scholastic) has also been republished in 2019. Aimed at ages 9-13, it is a rollicking adventure story featuring two feisty twelve-year-old girls who try to save a treasured home from being inundated by a Snowy dam.


Fidler and Siobhan
Siobhan with Richard Fidler, OzPod Conference 2016


Siobhan believes passionately in the affective power of voice. Her article, The Affective Power of Sound: Oral History on Radio, is among the most cited in the distinguished US journal Oral History Review, and was chosen to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the US Oral History Association in 2016. This online version includes illustrative audio clips – listening to them while reading the analysis is by far the best way to understand the concept. As well as being adapted for the stage, Siobhan’s oral histories have underpinned numerous public appearances: she has been an invited speaker at professional and academic gatherings from Harvard University to China and Iran and was a regular presenter at the annual summit of top media innovators, Global Editors Network (GEN).  

HUB for INNOVATION in PODCASTING – launched March 2022

Siobhan is Honorary Associate Professor in Media and Communications at the University of Sydney, where in 2022 she founded the Hub for Innovation in Podcasting. The HIP will teach and research podcasting and develop an international community of podcasting scholars and practitioners. It launches with a series of HIP Talks, commencing 17 March 2022 with THE MAKING of THE GREATEST MENACE. Register HERE for free tickets, for live in person event 17.30-19.00 AEST, and get Zoom online invite by emailing <info@hipodcasts.org>.

Siobhan at the Library of Congress, Washington DC. Pleased to see they hold my books – among their 33 million!


Siobhan’s POWER of VOICE essay on TRANSOM Public Radio USA
This audio and text of a female Vietnam veteran I recorded shows how much more emotional impact SOUND has compared to printed words.

Print version did not have the impact of audio

IRAN – KEYNOTE at the 3rd International Radio Festival of Iran

A memorable occasion – my talk on the making of the Snowy Scheme documentary showed how grand national narratives can be told through personal interviews. The oral histories of refugees and migrants trying to make a start in a new country resonated, despite the language and cultural differences. Iranians – or Persians as they call themselves – are warm and hospitable: a nation of poets and picnickers!

At the Blue Mosque in Isfahan, Iran

Siobhan was one of the ‘well-known Australians’ associated with the internationally renowned Mitchell Library who was invited to select an item for its Living Collection exhibition, at the State Library of NSW from March-June 2009. Siobhan selected recordings from the Oral History Collection.
  Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme


Snowy 60th Anniversary August 2009
National Archives of Australia
Siobhan’s talk at the National Archives of Australia was part of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme on the 17th of October.

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