Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Podcast spotlight: Hope Book Club

Launched in 2018, the Hope Book Club is a podcast focusing on books that will ‘enrich your life’. Co-hosts Katrina Roe and Natasha Moore discuss what they’ve been reading and enjoying, and occasionally a guest co-host will join to discuss a genre that they specialise in (for example, editor of The Book Curator magazine Rowena Beresford appeared on episode four to discuss children’s picture books). The podcast is produced as part of Roe’s role as a radio host on Hope 103.2, a non-denominational Christian FM statio, though the book discussions are aimed at general readers. ‘We’re experimenting with introducing fun new segments, like … that book you never finished,’ says Moore of the pair’s plans to move beyond the personal recommendation-based format. Moore and Roe spoke to Books+Publishing for our ‘podcast spotlight’ series.

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

The Hope Book Club exists to help you find your next great read. Katrina Roe (host) and Natasha Moore (reviewer) both review books that will enrich your life. We love well-written fiction with intriguing characters and thought-provoking themes, or nonfiction with a challenging question at the core.

What makes your podcast unique?

It’s very down to earth. We’re just two book lovers who love talking about books. There are no bells and whistles. No preamble or sponsor credits. No fancy segments or sound effects. And no boring bits. Just 20 minutes of good conversation about books.

When and how did you get started in podcasting? 

Katrina Roe: Our podcast started as a book review segment on my radio show. A friend mentioned Natasha had a PhD in English literature from Cambridge so I thought I’d drag her in to talk about books. I was getting more and more enquiries about the books we reviewed and I wanted to make those reviews easily available. Plus a few people had told me that my chats with Natasha were the best part of my show, so I thought I should promote them a bit more. I’m also a children’s author so I tend to spend a lot of my life reading, thinking and talking about books.

Natasha Moore: For a few years now I’ve been a co-host of a podcast called Life & Faith, as part of my day job with the Centre for Public Christianity. We talk to all kinds of people—including authors like Tim Winton, but also activists and philosophers and athletes and just about anyone with a good story to tell about life and, you guessed it, faith—but my background is in English literature and so kicking back and having a good chat about what I’ve been reading is just totally my thing!

Where and how is your podcast recorded? 

We record two podcasts in one recording session about every six weeks or so. It’s just the two of us! Thankfully, we have a digital content department who upload them for us.

What kind of listeners does your podcast reach? 

Our podcast is aimed at everyday readers, rather than the industry, and we are generally pitched more towards women readers than men.

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

NM: It kind of depends on what you like to read really! Some of our most popular episodes have been ones that talk about the novels everyone’s reading, like A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris or anything by Liane Moriarty.

What recent trends have you noticed in podcasting?

KR: I went to the live show of the British podcast series No Such Thing as a Fish earlier this year and was impressed that they could pack out the Opera House. I love that more podcasts are recording in front of live audiences and it’s interesting that they are starting to create a community of listeners.

NM: In lots of the shows I listen to, it feels like the personalities of the hosts and the way they interact becomes more and more the drawcard for people, rather than what the podcast is ostensibly about. People like people!

Why do you think people are drawn to this format?  

KR: I think it’s the intimacy of the medium. Like radio, it’s very personal and you feel like you are really getting to know the podcasters and almost have a relationship with them. That’s why I tend to go for ‘chatty’ podcasts, rather than heavily scripted and produced ones. Also I love that you can listen while doing something else, like jogging, driving or housework. It makes a boring task much more enjoyable.

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

KR: Fortunately I don’t have that problem as I do my podcast as part of my paid job. However, with all artistic pursuits, like writing or art, funding is always a problem and I’m not very good at that side of things. I think the phenomenon of the ticketed live show is an interesting funding model for shows with a big following.

What plans do you have for your podcast going forward? 

NM: We’re experimenting with introducing fun new segments like ‘Reading regrets’, ‘The book you haven’t read, but feel you should have’ and ‘That book you never finished’, which will explore some of the frontiers of the reading life, not just the books we’ve enjoyed lately.

KR: I’m keen to do an audiobook special for the holiday season, when people are doing big drives up and down the coast.

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

KR: I’ve tried a few different writing and book podcasts, but my favourite author interviews are on Conversations with Richard Fidler (or Sarah Kanowski). I occasionally listen to the children’s literature podcast One More Page and enjoy the silliness of No Such Thing as a Fish. But in truth I love audiobooks and spend more time listening to them than podcasts.

NM: I’m a pretty fickle podcast listener at the moment, to be honest—I flit from show to show. (But you should totally subscribe to ours and listen to every one!) I like the occasional Books and Authors episode (BBC), but mostly I listen to storytelling podcasts like This American Life, or personality-oriented ones like My Favorite Murder (apologies for American spelling there!)