Oz Pod 2016 (Part 3 of 3) – Long vs short form?

Hello Pod Bods,

The first Australian podcast conference, Oz Pod 2016 was held on the 30th September 2016. It was held at the ABC Ultimo Centre. All the sessions were filmed and the episodes are on-line.


The debate on Long-form vs ‘short and sweet’ podcasts

Early on in the conference James Cridland, a radio futurologist put out a plea to think carefully about the length of your podcasts. He used the term ‘respect for the audiences’ suggesting that some long podcasts maybe a little too ‘over-indulgent.’

But throughout the day these sorts of comments emerged:

  • Patricia Karvelas from ABC RN Drive and the political podcast The Party Room, comments on the parallels and differences of radio and podcasts; “it’s the choice factor. No one says ‘I need to listen to Christopher Pine (insert any politician) right now” inferring that radio chooses it for you, whereas with podcasts you choose to go there. “All the micro-views, (e.g. the PM said ‘sound grab’) goes on the radio but the macro-view and bigger conversations go on podcasts”.

    Radio Futurologist John Cridlan
    Radio Futurologist John Cridlan
  • Dan Box, Crime reporter at the Australian and creator of the Bowraville podcast said, “The more I do journalism the more I am convinced about long from journalism.”
  • “Media traditionally was a platform of public influence, podcasting came of age when it influenced the legal predicament of Adnan”. (The Serial podcast – it’s not short) said by John Cridland himself. But it is edited and well produced beautifully keeping the story a compelling adventure.

Perhaps the debate is really about the use of the sound grabs and contexts in which they are used.

The final session, Conversations in conversation, was devoted to long-form podcasts with Richard Fidler and Pam O’Brien from the radio show and podcast Conversations. This was a great example of the value of thoughtful depth… if you have the resources. This session covered revelation like,

  • They pre-interview interviewees so they know what to leverage at the recorded interview. “It’s the anecdotes that form the backbone…the guests are remembering things and it playing like a movie… those moments are electrifying. They forget they are in the studio.”
  • They do enormous research. Richard’s words were ‘over prepare’ so they can have a free form and smooth conversation. This includes short questions, not convoluted long questions.
  • The partnership with presenters and producers is critical – you need feedback!
  • Richard was awarded a Churchill fellowship to visit study podcasting. He met with Ira Glass, Jay Alison (who gave Ira his first job), people at the BBC, Radiolab and the Moth.
  • They also recognise the studio interview environment is important for the comfort of guests and intimacy created in storytelling. For example, Their new posh studio with a lovely great view of the city wasn’t working, it possibly distracted guests from the interview, so they moved into a smaller studio.
  • Richard said he “allows people to have the space to tell the story,” he doesn’t rush them and sometimes there are long pauses.
  • Richard also said, “Humour makes it easier to talk about things” and even referred to even the unthinkable, difficult to talk about things, like suicide.

And … overheard at the conference

“People wildly agreeing with each other is not good listening–you want to hear debate.”

“Fire the imagination of the listener.”

“Audio does emotion better than print.”

I also heard “Experiment …Radiolab took years to find it’s a recognisable voice.” Hmm but I don’t have years, the boss awaits.

Cheers Andi