Siobhan McHugh is an internationally recognised podcast producer, documentary-maker, oral historian, writer, journalism academic and podcast critic. Since the rebirth of podcasting post-Serial (2014), she has immersed herself in analysing, teaching, promulgating and producing this rapidly evolving media format.
Her 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.
Siobhan has worked closely with The Age newsroom in Melbourne, led by multi-awardwinning journalist Richard Baker, to make groundbreaking narrative podcasts. As consulting producer, she advises on script, narrative structure and sound. 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 heist on Victoria’s shipwreck coast.  Phoebe’s Fall and Wrong Skin won GOLD at New York Radio Festival, and a slew of other awards.
Production Meeting Pong Su

Siobhan McHugh, consulting producer, Richard Baker, host, and Rachael Dexter, Executive Producer, at a production meeting for The Last Voyage of the Pong Su podcast, 2019

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.

 

“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.

NEW EDITION of THE SNOWY in 2019!

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.

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Siobhan McHugh with Richard Fidler, OzPod 2017

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).  She is Associate Professor in Journalism at the University of Wollongong, south of Sydney, and writes regularly for The Conversation on podcasting.
Philosophically, like the film maker Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), Siobhan believes in ‘The Politics of Connection’. Like renowned oral historian/ broadcaster Studs Terkel, whose son Dann she interviewed as a homage, she believes in bottomless curiosity and deep listening. And like her fellow-audio storytellers, she is convinced of The Power of Voice. In her practice, she seeks to empathise with a wide range of people, to listen carefully to their stories and reflections, and to craft them as engaging, affecting and authentic narrative so as to  maximise their impact.

Siobhan at the Library of Congress, Washington DC, 2011. Pleased to see they hold my books – among their 33 million!

‘MARRYING OUT’, a radio series about mixed marriage and sectarianism, WINS GOLD AT NEW YORK RADIO FESTIVAL 2010! AUDIO of 2 x 53min series is HERE

This couple’s children were placed in an orphanage due to their mixed marriage.

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

Siobhan gave KEYNOTE at the 3rd International Radio Festival of Iran, 2010
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, 2010

MITCHELL LIBRARY CENTENARY
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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