Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Podcast spotlight: The ‘Good Reading’ podcast

The Good Reading podcast, launched in July 2018, publishes episodes weekly with the aim of helping readers ‘discover [their] next favourite read’. Hosted by Emma Harvey, Angus Dalton and Greg Dobb, the first season of the podcast, which is sponsored by Pantera Press, spanned 20 episodes. ‘As we move well into the digital age, it seems there’s a push back against short, fast content and a demand for content that deeply engages with a story,’ said Good Reading publisher and editor Rowena Morcom. She spoke to Books+Publishing for our ‘podcast spotlight’ series.

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

The Good Reading podcast takes the author interviews and book coverage we’ve been proudly running in print for nearly 18 years into the exciting realm of audio. It’s an interview-based podcast with all kinds of writers, journalists and thinkers from both Australia and overseas.

What makes your podcast unique?

It’s book talk with bite! We have access to some extraordinary authors at Good Reading, from legendary writers such as Minette Walters (the Queen of Suspense), Stephanie Alexander, and Laura Tingle, as well as authors like Sarah Bailey and Bri Lee, who are just beginning to make their mark on history with their terrific stories.

We like to dive deep with well-researched interviews not just focusing on the author’s latest book, but also the fascinating stories from their lives.

When we have kids and YA authors in, we throw the mic over to schoolkids so they can have a go at quizzing the author, which is tremendous fun!

When and how did you get started in podcasting?

Podcasting was a natural progression for Good Reading, off the back of the launch of our online Hub for Book Lovers and our shift to focusing more on our digital content.

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

Our podcasts are recorded in a fabulous studio in Sydney called Sound Kitchen, where, incidentally, many audiobooks are recorded too. We have some sophisticated portable equipment that allows us to go free onto the streets and into the thick of the action, whether that be at a bustling writers’ festival or an author’s home.

We have three staff who present the podcasts: Emma Harvey, Angus Dalton and Greg Dobbs. Each person has specialty interests but together they have a wealth of knowledge and experience in books and publishing, as well as radio and podcasting.

What kind of listeners does your podcast reach?

We have a large readership of Good Reading, in print and digital. They are mostly women, aged 30+. They read all sorts of books and come from all walks of life. And our listeners are just as diverse as our readers.

Our podcasts are also listened to by municipal librarians and library members around Australia and New Zealand via our online portal for library members.

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

Bri Lee, who wrote Eggshell Skull (A&U), has been one of our most popular. We managed to get her in the studio for an interview just as she wrapped up recording the audiobook version of her sensational memoir—all the feelings she had when writing it were reinvigorated and raw. (There’s also a fantastic rant in there about chickpeas.)

We have had some hilarious episodes including an interview with the Worland brothers, who tortured us with excruciating dad jokes, and one with Mikey Robins, who kindly informed us of the existence of the Testicle Festival.

Some have also been tremendously moving podcasts, such as the episode with the artist Ben Quilty on his book Home: Drawings By Syrian Children (Penguin).

What recent trends have you noticed in podcasting?

It seems people want depth rather than quick hit-style content. If an author is interviewed on live radio, for example, it can be quite superficial and fast. As we move well into the digital age, it seems there’s a push back against short, fast content and a demand for content that deeply engages with a story. Podcasts can really allow a reader to become immersed in a particular subject, and as an interviewer, you can take the time to deeply engage with an interviewee.

Why do you think people are drawn to this format?

For the reasons mentioned above—and perhaps as audiobooks skyrocket in popularity, people are getting used to reading with their ears! Or perhaps podcasts came along and boosted the audiobook wave … Either way, we’re happy to have people engaging with great books and writing, whether it’s on a page or shooting along as a soundwave.

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

We have only just begun podcasting in the last few months. We have the brilliant and passionate Pantera Press to thank as they sponsored our first series, enabling us to get it off the ground. Sulari Gentill, one of Pantera’s long-time authors, was the debut author in our first episode.

Also, podcast airtime can now be booked as part of advertising packages for publishers, proving its potential to be monetised.

What plans do you have for your podcast going forward?

We have a few exciting surprises planned. But we’re keeping mum about that. Stay tuned!

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

The team at Booktopia do an absolutely fabulous job with their podcasts. Also, the Australian author J M Donellan wrote an awesome fiction podcast series called Six Cold Feet, which is a bit like a chilling mystery book in podcast form. It’s an absorbing piece of storytelling and we definitely recommend it for those after something different.