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The Power of Podcasting: Telling Stories Through Sound

 NewSouth Books, UNSW Press, Feb 2022.

Order HERE with free intro chapter.

Newsflash: US and European edition coming October 2022 with Columbia University Press!

Hard to describe this book: it’s a crazily ambitious attempt at a cultural survey and critical analysis of podcasting as a new medium, that’s also a ‘creative confessional’, replete with insider takes on the artistic and editorial side of crafting podcasts, plus a homage to the global audio storytelling community, old and new. Here’s the sell.

Podcasting is hailed for its intimacy and authenticity in an age of mistrust and disinformation. It is hugely popular, with journalists, entertainers, corporates, celebrities, artists, activists and hobbyists all dipping a toe in the podcast pond.

But while it is relatively easy to make a podcast, it is much harder to make a great one.

In The Power of Podcasting, award-winning podcast producer and audio scholar Siobhán McHugh provides a unique blend of practical insights and critical analysis of the invisible art of audio storytelling. Packed with case studies, history, tips and techniques from the author’s four decades of experience, this original book brings together a wealth of knowledge to introduce you to the seductive world of sound.   

  • A rare blend of academic depth and insider professional knowledge, the book places podcasting in the broader context of radio and international audio storytelling.
  • McHugh draws on her extensive networks to interview key figures in podcasting. She also provides rigorous analysis of landmark podcasts including Serial, S-Town and The Daily.
  • The book includes actual script iterations and detailed description of the production process of the making of hit podcasts the author worked on (e.g. The Last Voyage of the Pong Su).
  • The book surveys current podcasting trends, including the push for inclusion, equality and diversity in the industry. It canvasses podcasts made from China to the Middle East.

AUTHOR:

Siobhán McHugh is an award-winning writer, documentary-maker, academic and podcast producer. She has won six gold awards at New York Festivals for co-produced podcasts including Phoebe’s FallWrong Skin and The Last Voyage of the Pong Su, and has been shortlisted for a Walkley, a Eureka science award, the NSW Premier’s Audio-Visual Award, NSW Premier’s History Awards and the United Nations Media Peace Prize (twice). She is the author of The Snowy, which won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for non-fiction, and is founding editor of RadioDoc Review, the first journal of audio storytelling criticism. McHugh is Honorary Associate Professor in Media and Communications at the University of Sydney and Honorary Associate Professor of Journalism at University of Wollongong.

“Essential reading for anyone aspiring to make memorable audio. This is the ultimate guide to podcasting from a master of the craft.”– Richard Baker, multi-Walkley-awardwinning host of Phoebe’s Fall, Wrong Skin and The Last Voyage of the Pong Su

‘A love letter to the power of podcasting and audio, from one of the most experienced storytellers with sound.’ – James Cridland, editor of Podnews

‘An invaluable resource for anyone interested in understanding today’s global podcasting phenomenon. I learned so much.’ – Carolina Guerrero, CEO of Radio Ambulante Studios

‘Storytelling is Siobhan’s gift, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that this book is written as an immersive narrative … the ideal book for students, trainers, researchers and anyone who wants to learn about the inner workings of podcasting.’

– Kim Fox, Professor of Practice, American University in Cairo and co-chair Podcast Studies Network

Much more than a how-to guide for aspiring podcasters … A reminder of the power of sound and the huge potential of the podcast medium.’ – Richard Berry, University of Sunderland

‘Absolutely fascinating, and a terrific lesson in how to tell good stories.

Whether you seek instruction, or simply to know why some podcasts are better than others, this book is for you. Considering how rapidly podcasting is developing, McHugh manages to keep it bang up to date, charting the latest trends and the ever-expanding honour roll of podcasts circulating around the world. For those looking for practical guidance in creating or improving their own podcasting, she populates the chapters with real, living, breathing people in all the highs and lows of their humanity, which is, after all, the secret to great radio, journalism and outstanding podcasting.

– Olya Booyar, Head of Radio, Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union

At home with newly arrived book! [Photo Kirk Gilmour]

This is a talk I gave in December 2020 for the Oral History Network of Ireland annual lecture. I discuss how to turn interviews into an audio story and how to use music and ambient sound to build a narrative. There’s a live demo (starts 37.01) of converting a ‘raw’ interview to a story, using music and chickens (!) to add mood and pace. For readers of my book, The Power of Podcasting: this is the interview with entertainer Ingrid Hart I describe in the Prologue!

Video of talk (50mins) is HERE. It contains lots of illustrative audio clips from three of my projects: the podcast Heart of Artness, about cross-cultural relationships behind the production of contemporary Australian Aboriginal art; the radio documentary series Marrying Out, about sectarianism and bigotry in Australia; and the radio documentary series Minefields and Miniskirts, about Australian women’s role in the Vietnam war.

I’ve co-authored a detailed academic article about the collaborative process behind making Heart of Artness here.

smchugh@uow.edu.au

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