Siobhan McHugh

Siobhan McHugh

My podcasts include the award-winning Phoebe's Fall, Wrong Skin (with Fairfax Media), Heart of Artness. I founded RadioDoc Review to critique podcasts. As A/Prof I research and teach podcasting at uni

Location Australia


  • Welcome, Terry. I think podcasting may well help - provide a way to tell stories that may give you some relief. Have you tried listening to this excellent storytelling/interview podcast which addresses depression head-on? It's called Terrible Thanks for Asking.

  • Welcome back, Ronaldo!

  • Here's a brand new podcast that just won the RODE MICS competition for best podcast idea: a timely take on mixed race themes.

  • Well done, everyone, for getting this far. Lovely to read about your responses. And to see you talking to each other too. Good luck for next week!

  • Cloe, try using eye contact and facial expressions to make those affirming responses. You can 'say' a lot through that.

  • Not all podcasts have obvious hosts or interviewers - some, like Love And Radio in the US, choose to edit out the person who did the interviews and just assemble the story as a non-narrated montage.

  • That title will stand out!

  • @VivianAndrade do you mean people who had their LIVES reconstructed through art?!

  • So true, Cheryl! Getting the music right is a complex art. Choosing the right kind, putting it in the right place, knowing how long to let it run for...

  • Great summation, Joan!

  • Glad you are feeling better, Bernardo. It is indeed very sad - but that is the reality of war. And there is a lot of caring in the story too.

  • Usually you use a post-it note to note in short-hand a narrative 'beat' or small part of the story. You thread these 'beats' together to make a section of an episode, or maybe a whole episode. You might use a different colour post-it to add a sound idea.

  • Hugely important!

  • Good point, Elizabeth. You can do a lot of groundwork before committing to making the podcast. Interviews in particular are helpful, to start to see what common themes there might be.

  • Lo siento, Sandra. Yo hablo poco español!

  • Yes, I enjoyed this one too, Christian! Learned a lot re immigrant life in Brixton and places.

  • S-Town is an absolute gem, Victoria! I've just written a very long article about this, how S-Town is like a non-fiction novel for your ears.

  • Sounds a great idea, Petronilio!

  • A podcast about your father could be terrific, Marcela - lots of sounds of cooking, and passion about food! History of a place also works very well. Just be sure to go outside (if you are permitted) and record sounds of the places you mention.

  • Fascinating idea, Matej! You might like to read my piece here on crafted audio works as non-traditional research outcomes;

  • @BethS a big reason why podcasting is highly valued as a media format is precisely because of the engagement it gets! We just operate at a different level: audio is relatively low-key. It only exists in real time - so you are either listening or not and most people who opt to listen, stay with it. Research shows most listening is done in the home (Edison...

  • It is still open!! Welcome.

  • @RandaHamo welcome! I think you might be our first Kurd. Very glad to have you here and good luck with making your podcast.

  • Oh he's good!

  • Exactly! Editing is an invisible art.

  • Thank you, Jhoan.

  • Tatyana, the easiest way is to set up special social media accounts for the podcast (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc) and mention them at the end of the show - ask listeners to get in touch and share their feedback. If the feedback seems useful, then by all means change accordingly!

  • Tricia, Jan was a journalist, covering the war for wire agencies like Reuters. She was what we would now call 'embedded' with the US army for a time. And yes, Australians were involved as allies of the US.

  • Sajad, The Guardian (UK) ran an interesting experiment in 2018 using multimedia add-ons to a podcast called Strange Bird, in this episode where women talk about their sadness about miscarriages. The idea was to supplement the audio with information, facts, stats etc. The extra information is a good idea, but running it simultaneously on the phone detracted...

  • Haha yes I much prefer myself as audio :)

  • That's pretty on the money, Allen - except that I don't think of the audience as 'controlling' the podcast. Audience reaction is usually via social media, and is welcome as feedback, but it does not generally 'control' the content in the sense of having editorial influence. Sometimes audience will offer fresh insight into a story covered in the podcast: the...

  • Hello everyone,

    Here is a great article on latest REMOTE RECORDING techniques during COVID-19.

  • Good luck, Logan!

  • I think it was read that way because it seemed to be suggestive of where Phoebe's head was at. She is at the very least being sardonic: 'when I wake up, I will transform into the most incredible human being you've ever seen. Not.'

  • Everyone, please go to the online version of John Biewen's article below, to hear the audio (not the pdf)!

  • Listen via the URL not the pdf!

  • The audio in Biewen works in this URL - maybe not the pdf.

  • Logan and Marcus, I just checked - and in the online version here, the audio plays fine. Maybe it's just dead in the pdf?

  • Try this podcast made entirely of field recordings - it's lovely!

  • Try this podcast made entirely of field recordings - it's lovely!

  • There are no hard and fast rules for this! Some podcasts have only one voice and it can work: e.g. Jeff Wright reading The Odyssey. He is animated and it's a great story, a powerful Greek myth. Some might include a vox pop, where you go out and briefly canvass the opinion of people in the street - that could add six voices in two minutes.

  • Freya, there is a legal concept of 'fair use' when you are critiquing something, but it likely varies from region to region, so you'd need to check the law in your own setting. Details in link below. Having said that, if it is a genuine educational/critical context, I doubt anyone would sue you. But someone did try to sue a besotted father who posted a video...

  • Yes that's absolutely right, Chico - nobody should use copyrighted music without getting permission. But there are also some cases where composers allow people to use their music with only a credit, as we describe - the Free Sound site.

  • I think that was also attributed to Groucho Marx!

  • Well observed, Isata!

  • You will never regret it, Daniel!

  • Wow, Anne, you are diving in deep! Thanks for posting that. P.S. Date is 2010, not 1910. I'm not THAT old! :)

  • No, they can be as long as a piece of string! More seriously, whatever sustains the narrative. In our latest, The Last Voyage of the Pong Su, the ten episodes range from 24 to 45mins. You decide the eps according to a theme, and then chase down all the strong stuff around that particular theme, and cut it together coherently. If it comes out really really...

  • Haha, thanks Henrietta!! I am an earrings person for sure.

  • Yes, I think it's the way she collapses from sounding so very fluent and confident, to being vulnerable: the devastated child who had to be put in the orphanage, remembering the agony of her father. I love how Susan has no compunction with having me share this - she is proud to 'own' it in the name of speaking her truth.

  • Thanks Henrietta. I think fondly of my 'tofu' moment and the catharsis it brought Jim!

  • Yes, Lea has a distinctive 'smoky' voice that feels very real!

  • Sounds fun. In Ireland, there is a saying that reminds me of this: 'the first item on the agenda of any Irish political party? The Split!'

  • Sounds intriguing!

  • Maybe listen to Blindboy Podcast for comparison? Young Irish guy who riffs brilliantly on all kinds of domestic and international affairs.

  • @FreyaYoung there are quite a few like this. Be warned, some have quite explicit language and/or themes.
    Alone, from CBC Canada
    Silent Waves (Australia)
    Millennial (US)
    No Feeling is Final (mental health theme)
    Not By Accident (Aust)
    David Sedaris episodes on This American Life (humorous)
    My Only Story (South Africa) - beautifully written account of a...

  • @ThanusyaShanmuganathan you are most welcome to disagree with others on the course - it is interesting to see diverse perspectives. But please do so respectfully. @CalebKuye is equally entitled to share his opinion and makes a valid point.

  • @SimonPackham very interesting, thank you!

  • Very interesting perspective, Sandie, thank you!

  • Insightful, James, thank you.

  • Beautifully expressed, Cayden.

  • @SuzyDonald I agree context was needed - and it was given in the radio documentary where this originally aired (Minefields and Miniskirts, ABC Radio National). I am using the excerpt here in a different way, as an illustration.

  • @MichaelMullins interesting point! The crackle on the tape came from the cellar, where unbeknownst to me, Jan's husband was playing his ham radio and it inserted a frequency on the tape. These days, we could 'clean it' digitally - but I prefer to keep the imperfect sound, because to me it retains the integrity of the moment, which was so intense.

  • Thanusya, I wonder have you misunderstood. This is a woman giving a spontaneous description of something terrible she experienced. It is not scripted, or acted. So whatever way she delivered it is fine - it is her story, to say any way she wants, with whatever 'modulation' comes naturally. Personally I found her articulation beautiful, despite her shocking pain.

  • Andrew they're here! On front page of download I think.​

  • Linda, it is a bit early to say The Teacher's Pet brought justice. The contrary view is that because the husband, Chris Dawson, was so obviously proposed to have murdered his wife, that a fair trial by jury would be impossible, as it has had so many listeners. This could end up denying Lynette's family justice in the end - though a judge-only trial is...

  • Louise, the link to the audio clips is on the front (cover) page of the article. They are here:

  • And wear headphones to monitor what you are actually recording!

  • Ouch!

  • Google is now offering a free transcription service that I hear is not bad. You have to 'correct' it but it's a headstart.

  • You're welcome, Abdul!

  • Good tips, Jill, thanks!

  • Henrietta, radio is a first cousin of podcasting. Some podcasts are in fact also radio shows, recycled as podcasts - as was Science Friction. The difference though is in the way a listener comes to them: deliberately, as a selected option, rather than randomly, by switching on a radio at a particular time and taking pot luck; and also, people usually listen to...

  • Welcome, Goldaneh - that's a really interesting idea. I visited Iran in 2010 and was surprised to see so many beautiful Audrey Hepburn types on the streets of Tehran! Young women wearing a hijab, with maybe a belted gaberdine - clearly a strong sense of fashion.

  • Great unifying theme, Kelwin.

  • Most podcasts have a website and you can put images up there.

  • Personal stories like these have a natural Before and After that makes them compelling. Maybe see if you can build interactions BETWEEN the people now, as adults? Get Person A to tell Person B what happened to them in the interim, and ask B to comment on A's experiences - and on it goes. Record their interactions and see if they develop...

  • There is a lovely program you might listen to, Alma, about tiny libraries in New Zealand. It was conceived by Julie Shapiro, who now heads the excellent Radiotopia podcast network in the US.

  • I like the sound of the post-Soviet Union one, Ranno!

  • Both great ideas for podcast treatment, Geraldine, as they have in-built potential for sound. The community nursery is classic: you could record the various characters (members) pottering about, and gradually introduce us to each of their stories, while overlaying narration by you that fills us in on how it happened, what it does etc.

    The second one sounds...

  • Sounds good, Christopher. Have you heard of one that is on a similar line, Song Exploder?

  • Both great ideas, Katharina!

  • Sounds great, Daniela!

  • You might like to listen to No Feeling is Final, an award-winning Australian podcast where the host, Honor Eastly, talks openly about her own battles with suicidal thoughts. It takes you right inside her stay in a psychiatric hospital. Confronting and honest. And funny at times!

  • Hi Jill, sorry you didn't like Serial or Phoebe's Fall. Re the two presenters 'encouraging voyeurism', as a co-producer, I can assure you that is absolutely not the case. In fact Richard Baker developed the podcast because Phoebe's mother, Natalie, asked him to do a major investigation into Phoebe's death - she felt Phoebe's case had not had fair treatment by...

  • Glad you liked it, John! It really is remarkable.

  • Just make that clear in your podcast description and episode intro - that you'll be moving around in topic. Try to think of a unifying frame: 'these are all things I'm passionate about and I hope if you listen you'll understand why'.

  • There's a good report on this by Reuters, Abdul: And I think The Quint tackles fake news pretty well?

  • Fascinating project!

  • Tim, you can get other people to read aloud letters, diaries etc. You can also describe photo albums etc. And record ambient sound to vary texture - e.g. if they describe being on a farm, get out in the countryside and gather some sound.

  • Very transferable, Anne. The simple but vital key to good interviewing is deep, empathetic listening.

  • Yes indeed, Ganna. e.g. Silent Waves, where the 24 y.o Australian host describes coming to terms with her very dysfunctional family. Trigger warning: themes of sexual abuse. It's a difficult topic, very well handled.

    Or Alone, from Canada: where a woman describes her journey in and out of...

  • There is no set duration, Juliana. It's completely up to what the story can sustain. e.g Alone, from Canada, is a podcast with a single voice - the writer telling her own story of her life pre and post-divorce - and it is now into its third whole season, 28 x c.30min episodes! That's because she writes and executes this memoir-style very well - though at time...

  • Yes indeed, Britta, and there are some great podcasts on these issues. e.g Ear Hustle is a wild ride from inside San Quentin prison in San Francisco, always engaging and full of insight. One of the hosts was actually pardoned by the Governor of California and set free because the podcast did so much good for prisoners!


  • Also In The Dark re getting Curtis Flowers out of jail - see comment above

  • I agree Victoria, that In the Dark S2 is a brilliant feat of investigative journalism and storytelling. This in-depth review in RadioDoc Review really unpacks how it was done:

    And thanks for rec of Elis and John, will have a listen!