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Australia’s podcast revolution

22 July 2019 at 4:45 pm
Mike Davis
Podcasts offer us a great way to harness and optimise idle time so that we might learn, connect and grow. Here podcast fanatic and producer Mike Davis shares his top five listens from Australia.

Mike Davis | 22 July 2019 at 4:45 pm


Australia’s podcast revolution
22 July 2019 at 4:45 pm

Podcasts offer us a great way to harness and optimise idle time so that we might learn, connect and grow. Here podcast fanatic and producer Mike Davis shares his top five listens from Australia.

Australians spend on average about an hour each day commuting. But there’s a stack of other idle time to take into account, including exercise, walking the dog, house chores, cooking and cleaning to name a few. Thankfully, podcasts have burst onto the scene over the past few years in Australia and have been dominating US airwaves for over a decade. 

A 2018 study of Australian podcasting habits reveals a significant increase in the number of podcast listeners in all age groups. New podcast listeners aged 18 to 54 increased by 52 per cent compared to 2017, representing growth in continued uptake of podcast listening in Australia. In addition, 93 per cent of people who start a podcast episode listen until completion. 

This tells us that a significant portion of Australians are now complementing their “idle time” with compelling podcast listening material. Whether it is true crime, news and current affairs, podcasts explaining what is going on in Westworld or more, there is something for everyone! 

As a podcast fanatic and producer, I spend much of my week consuming podcast content. My approach has been to pick a wide range of podcasts that I like and cherry pick out of all of these episodes the ones I’m most interested in listening to. This is an aggregation or cataloging approach, where I go broad and then narrow! Another approach might be to choose just a few great podcasts and listen to all the episodes. 

Whatever approach you prefer, integrating podcast listening into your life is a terrific way to boost your knowledge, awareness and engagement with contemporary issues. I’ve earmarked my top five local podcasts with a mix of new (listed first) and mainstay performers.


Mike’s top five Australian podcasts

  1. 7am (15 mins) – Borrowing from the format of The New York Times’ The Daily podcast, this new Schwartz Media daily podcast is a collaboration with The Saturday Paper and gives you a sub 15 minute daily blast of one deeper dive story and a few relevant local and overseas headlines.
  2. VICE Extremes (35 mins) – Produced by VICE Australia, this is a series of podcasts about people who have lived through extraordinary situations. Intimate interviews with people exhibiting extraordinary resilience, humour and determination. Think the sole survivor of a plane crash or avalanche and frank discussion of what that’s like! 
  3. Humans of Purpose (55 mins) – This is my podcast. Since early 2017, we have brought you over 120 weekly conversations with purpose-driven leaders right here in Melbourne. Each week you can tune in to hear informal conversations in my home studio with guests who are creating significant social impact through their work.
  4. Background Briefing (45 mins) – Some of the best audio journalism you will ever hear. Produced by ABC, this is like an audio version of ABC’s Four Corners. Tackling some of the biggest issues such as proxy wars in our electoral system, our failure to adequately protect minority groups and the emergence of the “alt-right”. 
  5. The Osher Gunsberg Podcast (75 mins) – Celebrity mainstay, author and content creator Osher Gunsberg produces and hosts this great regular podcast. It’s a very simple conversational format with bi-weekly releases and interviews with some fascinating people.  

A typical week with these great local podcasts in your life might be:

  • spending an hour of updates on Australian and international news headlines and deep dives on Scott Morrison’s religious life;
  • learning about what it’s like to be the sole survivor of a plane crash;
  • chatting to One Girl CEO Sarah Ireland about her life working in international development;
  • learning about how we might be failing our minority groups; and
  • deep diving on the substance abuse issues at the heart of Byron Bay’s Splendour in the Grass festival.

There is a great variance in length, content, format and style across these podcasts – so there is something for all occasions. Podcasts offer us a great way to harness and optimise idle time so that we might learn, connect and grow. 

“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and diligence.”  – Abigail Adams 

Mike Davis  |  @mikedav84

Mike Davis is a senior strategic advisor at Spark Strategy, chief podcaster at Humans of Purpose and a board director at not for profits SIMNA Ltd and L2R Dance.

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