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Podcast spotlight: Kill Your Darlings podcast

Established in 2013 and redeveloped into an hour-long format in 2014, the Kill Your Darlings podcast features ‘interviews, readings and discussions about books, culture and the arts in Australia and beyond’. ‘ When I started making the podcast I found interviews with authors I’d admired for some time particularly nerve-wracking, so a calm, pleasant and professional interview with one of my favourite authors felt like a memorable note of how much I’ve improved over time,’ said podcast producer Meaghan Dew. She spoke to Books+Publishing for our ‘podcast spotlight’ series.

For new or uninitiated listeners, describe your podcast in under 50 words.

Books, writing, reading, books, editing, publishing, storytelling, poems and also … books! More specifically, we record our author talks and events, interview local and international writers and storytellers and listen to them read their work.

What makes your podcast unique?

The writers we work with. Interviews and readings are in themselves nothing new, but I’m pretty fascinated by everyone we have the chance to talk to. It makes editing interviews for length pretty painful at times! Where possible we also align the podcast with our First Book Club authors and the writers who feature on our website, which gives it a uniquely Kill Your Darlings feel.

When and how did you get started in podcasting?

With Kill Your Darlings actually, almost five years ago now. Before then I’d spent time working on SYN’s current affairs program Panorama twice a week, and created a book discussion program with a couple of friends for the same station, called The Sunday Blurb. Moving into publishing, I wanted a way to keep my radio skills sharp in a way that interested me, book nerd that I am. I loved Kill Your Darlings (still do) so it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Where and how is your podcast recorded (and how big is your team)?

The podcast team is pretty much me, so it’s recorded all over the place. Generally authors are promoting a piece of work when we speak to them, so they’re on the promo trail and often in town specifically for that. We use a portable recorder and go to them, with all the variation in background noise that brings. The intros and outros are recorded in my bedrooms—when it comes to clear sound outside a studio the smaller and more softly furnished the room, the better!

What kind of listeners does your podcast reach?

About the only thing I can say with confidence about our listeners is that they’re all readers who share an interest in how these works are created—they wouldn’t listen otherwise!

What have been your most popular guests or most memorable episodes?

The most memorable ones for me won’t necessarily be the ones that stand out to listeners, but for me our interview with Joyce Carol Oates was a highlight. Marlee Jane Ward, Omar Sakr, C S Pacat, Eimear McBride, Deborah Treisman, Alexandra Pierce (from Galactic Suburbia), Hannah McGregor and Marcelle Kosman (from Witch, Please) were also personal highlights, though I feel like that list could just go on and on.

Listen to the introduction of KYD Podcast’s episode 19, ‘Dear Listener’

What recent trends have you noticed in podcasting? (Do you have any predictions for this format in the future?)

I think more professional players has definitely been the trend for a few years now. It’s still anyone’s game but previously the split was between made-for-radio content from large media organisations and broadcasters, and amateurs doing their own thing. Now you’re seeing so much more made-for-podcast content from both organisations and podcast networks.

What I predict? More critical attention and discussion. At the moment nothing really beats word of mouth for finding something good—there’s just so much out there. But I think we’ll see that word of mouth being used alongside more media reviewing and discussion of particular podcasts in the future. It’s a more developed form now, and that brings different scrutiny and expectations.

Why do you think people are drawn to this format?

Intimacy and convenience, ultimately, much like radio but without the barriers to entry. There’s something that feels very personal about going about your day with a particular host’s voice, particularly when they’re really passionate or excited about their niche and can carry you along with them. The specificity is also wonderful—where else would you find two hosts unpacking Harry Potter book by book? Or living by a new self-help book each week? Or watching the same film again and again?

How do you fund your podcast? Do you have plans to explore other funding options?

We fund the podcast the same way we do the website—through a combination of subscribers, grants and advertising revenue.

What plans do you have for your podcast going forward?

This year we’re planning to bring more Kill Your Darlings team members and columnists into the podcast, starting with First Book Club Coordinator Ellen Cregan. Her first book club meet for the year (an interview with Heather Morris, author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz) is up now and the second will be with Robert Lukins discussing his debut The Everlasting Sunday at Readings Carlton. We’ll also be collaborating with The ReReaders later this year, and we’ll have a few specials with other organisations too.

What other bookish podcasts should we be listening to, Australian or otherwise?

I’m a big fan of The ReReaders as far as general culture podcasts go. It feels very much like a local version of Slate’s Culture Gabfest. Then there’s The Wheeler Centre, Dear Reader (Melbourne City Library’s podcast) and Galactic Suburbia, for all your sci-fi and fantasy needs. Internationally, The New Yorker Fiction Podcast is still a favourite, and Witch, Please is a must for any Harry Potter fan.

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Category: Features