What happens when you give one of Australia’s leading campaigners $130,000 to make a podcast series?
You get PodcastOne‘s ChangeMakers, hosted by co-founder of GetUp Amanda Tattersall and involving 150 interviews to produce 20 stories across 10 episodes.
While there has no doubt been a flood of podcasts in 2017, this one is ushering in a new approach to the audio format in Australia, made possible by the record-high investment in the indie production.
“This represents a new era of big-budget podcasting in Australia,” explained Tattersall.
“It has been delivered by a team of three researchers, two producers, a script editor and three audio engineers. It shows that the era of podcasting has finally arrived in Australia.”
The first series of ChangeMakers mixes the story-telling form of This American Life with the topic of social change, and features stories of people changing the world in 14 countries across the globe.
Tattersall says there are plenty of Australian campaigns that cut it on the world stage, but there was once instance that took her by surprise the most while recording the series.
“One in Australia, when I burst into tears – like, proper flood of tears doing the interview and then reading the interview transcripts – for the story about Baby Asha, who was a child who got burnt in a refugee camp on Nauru,” she told Radio Today.
“The woman at the centre of that story had to make a decision to put all her energy behind building a picket line at a hospital at 10 o’clock at night. She recalls the tossing and turning that it took to make her decision – just thinking of it brings back some strong emotions.”
“The people in that story who literally save that baby’s life are awe-inspiring. But it’s a heart-wrenching tale, especially if you’re a parent.”
As for why the academic chose podcasting as the platform to tell these stories on over radio, the decision was discussed internally at length but ultimately came down to intimacy.
“Your audience is listening because they’ve actively chosen to – which means they’re wanting to hear from you, and get your voice and your analysis on the world. It’s gloves off time.”
“But it also affects music choice and pacing. You want to create a connection between the host and the audience, which means not getting in the way with too many bells and whistles. And not rushing the story.”
Tattersall explained that given the the American-style of story-telling that has been adopted, the story comes first.
“So rather than just a series of interviews, it’s the host that drives the narrative, and the interview subjects add the colour. It’s way more powerful (although a lot more work, too!)”
There is also a stronger message behind ChangeMakers than most other podcasts – change IS possible.
“The world is not in a place I want it to be, and I think people are wanting some hope that things can be better,” Tattersall added.
“We’ve got stories from 14 countries that repeatedly show that the more ambitious an idea is, the more effective it can be. It would be great if people in Australia became more ambitious in the type of political change they thought was possible.”