July 23, 2020
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SA podcasts: Listen up

South Australia produces an eclectic collection of podcasts but one thing they all share is the love of audio storytelling and an interest in the extraordinary lives of ordinary people.

The Adelaide Show’s Steve Davis (second from right), with Kirsty Wigg, Jess D’Aguanno and Nicky Boy Nick Stevens during a 2020 Fringe podcast.

When Steve Davis launched his long-running Adelaide podcast with two co-hosts in 2013, it had four distinguishing features: a South Australian drink of the week, a patron (Queen Adelaide), a song, and a nod to Don Dunstan in the sign-off.

The very first drink was a 10-year-old red wine blend from Highbank in the Coonawarra. The cork crumbled, but the episode notes record that it “drank well and opened up nicely”.

“It began as many do — we just shot the breeze and chatted,” Steve says of the early days of the podcast, which was then known as Another Boring Thursday Night in Adelaide and has since been renamed The Adelaide Show. 

The marketer and former journalist and talkback radio announcer’s founding partners were Colin Long and Brett Monten, and their original choice of name — inspired by the Redgum song One More Boring Night in Adelaide — was intended to be ironic.

“We were so parochial and patriotic, and we thought that the person who gave us great spunk in this state was Don Dunstan,” he says. 

The Adelaide Show, one of SA’s first podcasts, still opens with a drink of the week and ends with a song and “Goodnight, Don”, but Steve’s co-host these days is cognitive scientist Nigel Dobson-Keeffe. 

Over more than 300 episodes, the format has been refined to feature interviews with a broad range of South Australians across subjects as varied as tattoos, roller derby, cars, sailing, data privacy, dinosaurs and — recently — COVID-19. One of its most popular stories was that of Gaetano Lepore, owner for more than 30 years of the Rostrevor Pizza Bar. 

“It’s just people who are passionate about anything,” Steve says of the format. “The tagline we use is that we put South Australian passion on centre stage.”

Sandy Verschoor listens to podcasts while walking her dog.

There has been a global increase in recent years in both hobby podcasting and professional podcast production, with the COVID-19 lockdown seeing podcasts gain even greater traction as a form of entertainment, education and communication.

Among the latest arrivals on the South Australian scene is City of Adelaide’s Adelaide Living, launched in January this year and hosted by Dr Christina Hagger.

Produced by Radio Adelaide’s Podcast Works, Adelaide Living has so far featured interviews with people such as SA Chief Entrepreneur Jim Whalley, senior Aboriginal man Michael Kumatpi Marrutya O’Brien (Uncle Mickey), Afghan-Australian social commentator and co-owner of East End restaurant Kutchi Deli Parwana Durkhanai Ayubi, and actor and filmmaker Damon Gameau.

“What we are trying to do is gather and share a whole lot of authentic stories that celebrate the city,” Adelaide Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor says of Adelaide Living. “There’s so many people that live and work here that have fantastic stories to share … it’s a mixture of things that entertain, educate and inspire us.”

The City of Adelaide has committed to producing three series of Adelaide Living podcasts, with the aim of covering a cross-section of the community.

The Lord Mayor is an avid podcast listener herself. During the COVID-19 crisis, she has spent more time than ever listening to stories while walking her young border collie, saying she finds the process meditative.

“I love audio and I love what you can do with a well-crafted story. Most of us grew up with at least one person in our family or at school reading stories to us. Being able to sit back and listen to a person telling an authentic story is a special thing.”

Adelaide podcast producer and host Nicole Haack believes the power of podcasting lies in the intimacy of the experience. 

“It’s a very personal medium, and the immediacy and the expression of the human voice enables people to connect at a deeper level,” she says.

The Message Pod’s Nicole Haack

Nicole is a former radio presenter and now managing director of The Message Bureau, which in 2016 launched South Australia’s first production podcast company The Message Pod — also the name of its original podcast.

“The intent was to tell stories that perhaps hadn’t been told before. And they were stories of inspiration … everything from adventurers to people who had one unique message of personal triumph.” 

One of the first stories shared by The Message Pod, and one of its most popular episodes, was that of a 36-year-old single woman who decided to turn to a sperm donor to realise her dream of becoming a mother. Other interviewees have included South Australian pain scientist Professor Lorimer Moseley, Penfolds’ chief winemaker Peter Gago, film director Gillian Armstrong and Paralympian Jed Altschwager.

While that original podcast is in hiatus, the company also produces a number of others including Samstag Museum of Art’s ON ART, featuring conversations between curators and contemporary artists, and Living Proof, “a podcast for bartenders, distillers, brewers and anyone who loves the joy and history of good drinking”.

Living Proof, hosted by Nicole and Marcus Motteram, owner of Adelaide small bar Hains & Co, has presented interviews with bartenders from Mexico, Asia, the UK, US and Australia, and attracts a large international audience. It bears out her belief that podcasts with a clearly defined audience are the most successful.

“There are 700,000 bartenders in the US and Australia alone; these are people who are incredibly passionate about their craft. We just gave bartenders around the world a way of connecting and the feedback has been huge.” 

The Message Pod has now partnered with Solstice Media (publisher of SALIFE) to launch new company Solstice Podcasting. It will incorporate the current podcasts and produce new podcasts for all Solstice Media publications, as well as for national, and potentially international, corporate and government clients.

Nicole also has a new part-fiction, part-non-fiction podcast in the works titled The Search for Mr Devereaux. Written by a theatre scriptwriter and to be presented by actors, it will be a raw yet humorous series tapping into the psyche of older women who find themselves unexpectedly single and thrust into a world that’s foreign. 

“I would imagine that by the end of the year we will have multiple podcasts,” she says. “My list of podcast ideas is so long that I don’t think I’ll ever catch up with them!”

SA maker and podcaster Adrian Potter.

New South Australian podcaster Adrian Potter doesn’t have any experience in radio, but what he does have are strong credentials as a maker — including of beautiful furniture and guitars — and an insatiable curiosity about the creative process.

Adrian’s DIY podcast The Designer Maker Revolution, launched at the end of last year, takes a deep dive into the lives of highly skilled makers to offer insight into why and how they make their art, with interviewees ranging from a folk musician to a clockmaker and a third-generation furniture maker. Its latest series, Fire and Virus, focuses on creative people caught up in the summer bushfires.

“I’m really interested in talking about the creative process,” Adrian says. “I think it’s a fascinating conversation.

“I also think people are more and more interested in making things … not because they have to, but because they want to. It’s a fundamental thing for people to want to use their hands and minds in a creative way.”

He believes the stories on The Designer Maker Revolution can inspire aspiring makers, citing as an example an episode in which Brian Parkes shares his journey from growing up in a working-class household as the son of a slaughterman in Tasmania to becoming CEO of the JamFactory contemporary craft and design centre in Adelaide.

“He grew up living in caravan parks and went to art school because he was really good at drawing and kind of found himself there.” 

For Adrian, podcasting is a new adventure – a different form of making – and it’s one he finds immensely satisfying: “I needed a new challenge and it’s given me that in spades. I get to talk on a deep level with all sorts of really interesting people.” 

This story first appeared in the May 2020 issue of SALIFE magazine.

Did you know SALIFE now has its own podcast? Click here to listen to SALIFE The Podcast.

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