Listen: Australia's ABC puts digital first with new podcasts

By James Cridland for
Posted 27 May 2015, 3.38am edt

Sarah Ackerman

The ABC in Australia, one of the country's two public service broadcasters, has announced a new digital-first initiative for podcasts called First Run. This is aimed to showcase new voices and stories.

Like people in the UK and the US, Australians are also consuming more on-demand content than ever. The ABC has been a leader in podcasting for over a decade, and programmes like Dr Karl's science podcast and Conversations with Richard Fidler have kept the broadcaster at the top of the charts.

The broadcaster says that "First Run aims to support talented radio makers to create exceptional work for audiences who want to listen at any time, any place and in any way they want."

Three new, digital-first, podcasts launch this week, with a series of ten episodes.

Confession Booth (a long-running live event created by A.H. Cayley and Matt Roden) is a night of brutal honesty, catharsis and absolution. Actors, comedians and writers share their most embarrassing, appalling and surprisingly heartfelt moments with a live audience. The first episode featuring journalist Tracey Spicer will make you blush and shriek with horror, as she recounts her seven deadly sins. Future confessors include actor Brendan Cowell and comedian Michael Hing.

Rum, Rebels & Ratbags is history not for the faint-hearted. Historian and author of ‘Girt’ David Hunt and Dom Knight, a presenter for ABC 702 Sydney, uncover the characters and events left out of your high school history class. Kew Gardens botanist Sir Joseph Banks wasn’t just ‘that plant guy’, but a celebrity playboy who decided Australia was just the place for a penal colony. The lady on the Australian $20 note, Mary Reibey, was deported to Australia for horse theft and cross-dressing, but what she did next will surprise you. And, who circumnavigated Australia first - a French monkey or a South African cat?

In Science Vs, science journalist Wendy Zukerman (The Project, triple j, Radio National, New Scientist) dissects the latest fad framing itself as scientific fact and wades through the mass of information to tell it like it is. Are women’s brains any different to men’s? Is porn changing the way we have sex? Does race exist? Is sugar really that bad for you? Everyone has an opinion, but then, there’s science.

Podcasting is having a resurgence worldwide shown by the popularity of new podcasts such as Serial, Invisibilia and StartUp Podcast. A range of great podcast apps and take-up of bigger data plans amongst Australians make podcasting easier than ever before, says the broadcaster.

The ABC runs radio stations across Australia, and ABC Local Radio lead most of their markets, despite being on AM (and DAB+ in the capital cities). It's notable that some of these podcasts are around fifteen minutes long, facilitating snacking. The average commute for people living in Australia's capital cities is around half an hour, with Sydney faring worst in commuting times and average speeds.

More information

James Cridland — James runs, and is a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. He also publishes a free daily newsletter about podcasting, Podnews, and a weekly radio trends newsletter.

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