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Podcast spotlight: The Monthly Hour

Launched in 2018, The Monthly Hour is a podcast companion to The Monthly magazine, described as ‘an essential hour of news, culture and ideas that [offers] insight into each issue of Australia’s leading current affairs magazine’. Only one episode old, the magazine’s editor Nick Feik (also its presenter) hopes it will stretch beyond the regular readership of the magazine to reach ‘anyone who is seeking deep engagement with national politics, society and culture’. Feik spoke to Books+Publishing for our ‘podcast spotlight’ series.

For new or uninitiated listeners, describe your podcast. 

The Monthly Hour is a mix of in-depth interviews, profiles, audio stories and critiques based on the features and essays in The Monthly magazine. We aim to be bold, critical, thoughtful and at times, controversial.

What makes your podcast unique? 

Like the magazine, we try to engage the finest thinkers, journalists and writers in the country. We aim to explore the stories behind their stories and give listeners a different take on what’s in the magazine, be it political, cultural or social issues.

When and how did your team get started in podcasting?

Our producer Sharon Davis is very experienced in radio and podcasting. She’s made audio features, numerous podcasts and documentaries as a Walkley award-winning journalist.

I’m new to the podcasting game as a presenter, but have plenty of radio experience on the other side of the microphone as an interviewee and panelist.

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

We record wherever the stories take us, and also in studios in Sydney and Melbourne. It’s a huge team! Just three people: producer Sharon Davis, presenter Nick Feik and a sound engineer when required.

What kind of listeners does your podcast reach? 

We’re brand new. The first episode in September debuted at number two on the Australian iTunes charts, so it must be a broad audience! We’re aiming for a listenership that caters for the readership of the magazine but that stretches well beyond it, too: anyone who is seeking deep engagement with national politics, society and culture.

Can you tell us about who features in your debut episode?

Acclaimed writer, Helen Garner, was in our first episode reading her latest work. We also spoke to Ceridwen Dovey about her article on the search for eternal youth by Australian scientist David Sinclair. Thornton McCamish told an intriguing story about one of Australia’s biggest spy scandals. Both Ceridwen and Thornton are wonderful authors. Broadcaster, composer and writer Andrew Ford complemented this mix with a portrait of composer Leonard Bernstein.

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

The biggest trend is the phenomenal growth of podcasting. There are now podcasts to suit almost every taste, and that’s reflected in the exponential growth in audiences. The advent and development of smart home technology will mean easier and faster access to podcasts, meaning this growth will continue. We’re also currently seeing an increased sophistication in podcast production, with the use of sound and music, and great storytelling.

Why do you think people are drawn to this format?

A big part of it is convenience. You can listen to quality conversations and stories while cooking, or driving or walking. People are finding podcasts that suit their specific taste and mood, which they obviously prefer to switching on the radio randomly, hoping it’s of interest.

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

Some advertising, some funding from the magazine.

What plans do you have for your podcast going forward?

Onwards and upwards! We were really happy with the response to the first episode, so just want to continue to produce something that’s thought-provoking and fresh.

What other bookish podcasts (or podcasts for people who love reading, writing and sharing ideas) should we be listening to, Australian or otherwise? 



Category: Features