Australian podcasts I got hooked listening to this year
For delicious nuggets of storytelling: Story Club
I’m super jealous of all the cool stuff that goes on at Sydney’s Giant Dwarf Theatre – luckily, podcasts like Story Club help to ease the pain. Hosts Zoë Norton Lodge (author of Almost Sincerely) and Ben Jenkins present a selection of short, snappy stories recorded at their monthly storytelling nights, featuring emerging writers and comedians alongside names like David Marr and Masha Gessen. At around 15 minutes each, the episodes are perfect for shorter commutes, and while the stories are funny and lighthearted, they’re also tender and heartfelt, sometimes sad.
See more: Currently between seasons but operating in a similar vein, it’s also worth checking out A.H. Cayley’s Confession Booth, whose live storytelling events skew a little darker but are just as compelling.
For engaging literary and cultural discussion: The ReReaders
In some ways The ReReaders has become an unofficial flagship for Melbourne’s literary and arts scene, but its real appeal is in its inclusive and unpretentious nature. Hosts Sam Twyford-Moore, Stephanie Van Schilt and Dion Kagan – often joined by guests – bring a diverse range of perspectives to everything from books and music to reality TV and indie film in a way that connects the dots between trends in the arts and literary scenes. With support from Creative Victoria, The ReReaders will have a new co-host in 2016 as well as an all-female sister podcast, making it an excellent time to jump on board.
See more: While not as frequent and with more of a focus on interviews, the Kill Your Darlings is another great way to keep your finger on the literary pulse.
For looking at things differently: RN Showcase
Part of Radio National’s frankly staggering selection of podcasts, RN Showcase is a collection of specially commissioned short-run series covering our changing relationships with the world around us – from animals to outer space. Highlights for me this year have been Tiger Webb’s Given Names series, investigating what names – baby names, place names, pen names – say about us, and Susan Maushart’s Fun With Boredom, which analyses the titular phenomenon in a decidedly non-boring way. Production is slick and content offbeat, and while the short-run format means that some series grab me more than others, it’s an easy way to break out of my comfort zone and discover something new.
For uplifting chats with a mate: Just A Spoonful
Another podcast that feels like a chat with a mate, Brisbane-based writer and comedian Kaitlyn Plyley’s Just A Spoonful involves casual interviews with artists, writers and other young people living with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Plyley, who herself lives with a chronic illness, talks with her guests about how they live and what they live for – art, music, culture, anything and everything – in a way that is frank, funny and warm, and in telling their stories in their own voices, removes so many of the taboos and misconceptions around chronic illness and disability. As a relatively healthy person, I can only imagine how vital a podcast like this is for those living with illnesses – but I know I’ve learned a lot, not only about what life with a disability is like, but about some really cool and interesting people.
For laughing like a maniac on public transport: Bring A Plate with Peter and Bec
Also based out of Brisbane, writers (and Twitter champions) Rebecca Shaw and Peter Taggart host a podcast that makes me happier than just about anything. The centrepiece of the podcast is the two rewatching and discussing a movie from the 90s, but in each episode Shaw and Taggart each bring a ‘plate’ – a topic of discussion from the news, culture or social media. Whether it’s One Direction conspiracy theories, giving out bad life advice or fighting over the merits of Pasito versus Passiona, the pair bring a light-hearted, self-deprecating but passionate approach – particularly in regards to feminism, politics and LGBT issues. They bicker and sing and go on wild tangents and make terrible puns, and it is glorious.
See more: Rebecca Shaw’s writing is featured in the newly released Best Australian Comedy Writing
Alan Vaarwerk is the editorial assistant for Readings Monthly.