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Podcast spotlight: Future Perfect (the EWF podcast)

Future Perfect is a podcast produced by the Emerging Writers’ Festival (EWF) that asks storytellers about ‘what they do, how they do it, and why’. Season 1 launched in the lead-up to the 2017 Digital Writers’ Festival, and season 2 is currently in the works. ‘Expect critically rigorous conversation, in-depth interviews, creative inspiration and brilliant insights from some of the most exciting emerging and established voices in our storytelling landscape today,’ says Izzy Roberts-Orr, EWF artistic director and podcast host/producer. Fresh from launching EWF’s 2018 program (which includes a greater focus on creating more pathways for storytellers in new media), Roberts-Orr spoke to Books+Publishing for our ‘podcast spotlight’ series.

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

Future // going or likely to happen or exist.
Perfect // as good as it is possible to be.

We think it means something like: keep writing, keep thinking, keep trying, keep telling stories—that’s how the future gets made.

Conversations with storytellers of all stripes about what they do, how they do it, and why.

What makes your podcast unique? 

What makes Future Perfect unique is much the same as what makes EWF unique.

Celebrating creativity and innovation, nurturing new talent and providing a platform for diverse voices from across Australia is at the heart of what we do here at EWF, and that’s also what’s exciting about Future Perfect.

When and how did you get started in podcasting? 

Before commencing my role as artistic director here at EWF, I was producing podcasts and creative audio for a number of years. I co-created and produced Sisteria and Dear/Hello, and was executive producer of The Rereaders, as well as working on a number of creative audio projects.

Considering that, it kind of seemed like a no-brainer for us to start our own podcast! We were particularly excited by the idea as we’re a national festival, but based in Melbourne, so the podcast provides us with a channel to reach out to and connect with a broader audience.

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

The podcast is recorded at Triple R radio in East Brunswick. We’re very lucky to have a partnership with them that allows us to use their studios (subscribe to your local community radio station!).

Last season, our team was me (in my role as EWF’s artistic director) and Beth Gibson as producer, working with a rotating cast of amazing hosts and guests including Hannah Donnelly, Claire G Coleman, Jax Jacki Brown, Krissy Kneen, Areej Nur, Angela Serrano and many more incredible storytellers.

Season 2 will have something different in store, so stay tuned.

What kind of listeners does your podcast reach? 

We like to think they’re a pretty critical and creative bunch. Much like the festival, our core audience is mostly folks who have a storytelling practice of their own.

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

All of the episodes in our first season are special and excellent for different reasons. The Indigenous Speculative Futures episode with Hannah Donnelly, Claire G Coleman and Maddee Clark was amazing. FutureSex, featuring Krissy Kneen interviewed by Kim Allom, plus a bonus interview with Angela Serrano was brilliant fun too—there’s a really sexy poem at the end if you listen all the way through.

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

Podcasting is as varied as any other storytelling medium—although a few years ago I think it was easier for independent podcasts to gain a foothold and find an audience. New structures are emerging, making it easier to navigate the huge amount of content that’s out there. At the moment, word of mouth and existing structures are still some of the most powerful tools to garner a listenership.

It’s maybe more of a wish than a prediction, but I’d love to see more podcasts taking advantage of the creative possibilities of the medium—I’m thinking podcasts in the vein of old-school radio dramas, theatre of the mind.

Why do you think people are drawn to this format?  

Podcasting can be an incredibly intimate medium, as well as one that allows access to some spaces, ideas and stories that might otherwise be difficult to reach. You can ask questions with a sound recorder, or in the intimacy of a studio, that you wouldn’t get the same results from if you were shoving a camera in someone’s face.

I also like to think it’s because people still love to imagine. Much like reading, podcasts ask you to fill in gaps, make up your own visuals, and constructively add to the details you’re given—it’s a creative medium as a listener as well as a maker.

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

The podcast is a project of our Digital Writers’ Festival, which is funded through the Australia Council. No plans to explore other options just yet!

What plans do you have going forward? 

We’re going to be having some great chats with emerging and more established storytellers from our community and alumni, and we’re going to have a bit more of a consistent structure and voice for the next season.

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

SPUN Stories, SOS in Oz, Women on the Line, Sisteria, The Rereaders, Starving Artist, Paper Radio, Sleeptalker, Can U Not?, Private Parts and so many more …

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Category: Features