Podcast Week: Michael Hutchence, The Phantom, Spotify

Podcast Week: DO I WANT KIDS

Plus: Porno pulls the pin, Australian Podcast Awards, Podcast Ranker and more

Compiled by Tess Connery and Grace Gollasch

Celebrating the life and legacy of Michael Hutchence

On 22 November 1997, Michael Hutchence, the charismatic frontman of INXS, passed away in mysterious circumstances. 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of his death, and to mark the date LiSTNR has launched Behind the Hits – Michael Hutchence: INXS. The podcast special celebrates Hutchence’s life, and one of Australia’s most successful musical exports.

Behind the podcast are Adam Williscroft, SCA Music Content Director – Audio on Demand and Digital Radio, and Cameron Adams, LiSTNR Music Feature Writer.

Podcast Week’s Tess Connery spoke to Williscroft and Adams about the legacy of Michael Hutchence and how the podcast came to be. 

Michael Hutchence

Adam Williscroft and Cameron Adams

Williscroft: “There are a lot of key anniversaries around the body of work that INXS have done. The 25th anniversary of the passing of Michael is a monumental day. It’s been 10 years since the band last performed, it’s been 45 years this year since they first performed. Kick turns 35, Shabooh Shoobah turns 40. 

“There’s a bunch of stuff there that was lined up for us to say that now was a good time to retell this story.”

Adams: “25 years since Michael Hutchence’s passing is a pretty big story. We were interviewing other bands and just talking – we did a show called These Days, which is about the history of Australian music, and INXS is obviously featured heavily in that. But the more we dug into that story, it became more than just Michael, it was more history of the band.”

Joining the podcast are INXS band members, Andrew Farriss, Kirk Pengilly, and Jon Farriss.

Williscroft: “Getting the majority of the key players that lived this story, or were a part of it, for me is about having that lens on the story. Looking from November 22 onwards hasn’t been done for quite some time. You’re getting that raw and honest perspective of today, it just meant that it’s a very powerful story.”

Adams:” That’s a story that hasn’t been really told that often. How do you replace this irreplaceable frontman? They talked a lot about the grieving that went on when they were doing their shows with Jon Stevens in the late 90s and early 2000s, how important it was for them to keep touring, and how that helped that grieving process. So I thought that was quite fascinating.”

It’s not just ex-members of the band that make an appearance on the podcast, with Jimmy Barnes, Jon Stevens, Suze DeMarchi, Vance Joy, Peter Garrett, and Daniel Johns, also making appearances. Representing people behind the scenes, video producer Richard Lowenstein and producer Mark Opitz join the team. 

Michael Hutchence

Williscroft: “We just wanted to unpack the story of INXS. Getting access to the band members themselves was incredibly powerful. SCA has got a rich audio archive, so we had some incredible audio from Michael Hutchence himself across many aspects of the band and his life. There was also audio from the late Chris Murphy, and to have his insights and his perspective on that time was incredibly moving to listen to.

Adams: “We pretty much got everyone that could fit into the story. It started with Jon Stevens, who was really great. Jimmy Barnes was the first, I think – he was in a Mushroom concert with him. He performed with them literally a year to the day after Michael passed away. So that was really raw.”

25 years since his passing, Michael Hutchence’s legacy is still as strong as always.

Adams: “It’s that cliche of the indefinable thing. Some people just have it, and some don’t. He had it. 

“During the research, it was interesting because we’ve got live archive audio of him, and he’s saying himself that he was never wanted to be singer. He was incredibly shy. Mark Opitz kept talking about this phrase, the ‘ego coat’ that he could put on. He was backstage at Wembley and saw Michael as a cool, calm kind of guy – and then suddenly could switch on by putting his ego coat on. I think that’s fascinating.”

Williscroft: “He was just the epitome of a rock star. He was very unique, certainly talented, but also quite an introvert and a complex character. I think that all adds up to his individuality and uniqueness, and potentially why we’ve not seen another Michael. 

“It’s a sum of the parts kind of thing, but he’s certainly a very unique person and an incredible performer.”

[Listen to Behind the Hits – Michael Hutchence here]

How Nova brought the original superhero back from the dead with The Phantom Never Dies

Forget birds or planes, we’re going way back to The Ghost Who Walks.

Telling the history of the original superhero, The Phantom, Nova’s The Phantom Never Dies just won Best Audio Non Fiction at the Australian Writers Guild Awards and silver for Best Arts & Culture Podcast at the Australian Podcast Awards.

Podcast Week’s Tess Connery spoke to host Maria Lewis about bringing The Phantom Never Dies to life.

Whilst The Phantom Never Dies officially launched in February, the project has been in the works for a lot longer.

It’s a great story because it starts with failure!” jokes Lewis. “Back in 2019, The Australian Writers Guild and Audible had started a fund where they were accepting pitches for fiction and nonfiction audio projects. I submitted one about the Phantom – which is a subject that is always interested me. 

“The pitch was shortlisted, but didn’t receive one of the grants. It went up on the Australian Writers Guild portal, and it was on that portal that Elise Cooper, – who ended up being my executive producer – saw the pitch and took it to Nova.”

Maria Lewis

Whilst it was originally pitched as a podcast about The Phantom movie from 1996, Lewis says that the more the team dug into the story, the more they unearthed.

“It was through those early stages and negotiations about what the show could be that the focus really was able to be expanded. It went from just being about the Phantom film and what that meant to Australian pop culture and the superhero industrial complex, to really being this much bigger story about the very first superhero ever, and the way that pop culture can just ripple out in ways that are completely unexpected.

“I was interested as a lifelong Phantom fan and superhero fan, but then the more that I dug into it, the more it was like ‘fuck, this is, this is really good. We’ve tripped into an amazing yarn here!’. There were just so many layers to it at every point.”

The Phantom Never Dies would be a major undertaking at the best of times, however the majority of the work happened over lockdowns. With Lewis in Melbourne and producer Elise Cooper in Sydney, the pair spent a lot of time juggling state border closures and everything else that Covid had to offer.

“Some things that we needed for the show were dependent on whether we could cross state lines. We got to see these Papua New Guinean Phantom shields that had been like the white whale of our show – we had seen a bunch of them in Sydney, there just so happened to be one of the biggest exhibitions of them ever happening randomly at this gallery. The exhibition was in a three day window between New South Wales closing their border to Victoria – it was just crazy hectic.”

The reward for all of the work that’s gone into the podcast is recognition at some major award ceremonies. Having taken Best Audio Non Fiction at the Australian Writers Guild Awards and silver for Best Arts & Culture Podcast at the Australian Podcast Awards, Lewis says that the awards mean a lot to her for more than just personal achievement.

“Pop culture and geek culture has been the real estate of straight white men for too long. I know it just seems like trophies, and you don’t do it for that – but at the same time, when you get recognised like that in a professional setting, it helps to really reaffirm that not only is what we’re doing important, but it’s legitimate. Particularly for a show that’s all about the diversity of a character that was essentially designed by white men for white men, and then has just become this completely other thing!

“Those awards really do help purge diverse fans – particularly women – from the margins.”

[Listen to The Phantom Never Dies here]

Spotify launches audiobooks in Australia

Spotify users in Australia and the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand are now able to purchase and listen to a catalogue of more than 300,000 audiobook titles.

Australian users can now find audiobooks on Spotify alongside music and podcasts as a section in their library, in search, and in their recommendations on Home. Books will be available for a one-time purchase, and users can preview the content for free before purchasing.

The audiobook library includes Australian titles such as The Other Side of Beautiful, The Boy from Boomerang Crescent, The Dry, Boy Swallows Universe, and Growing Up Queer in Australia.

Audiobooks will show up with a lock icon on the play button, signalling that they need to be purchased in order to listen. Users who discover audiobooks in the Spotify app will be able to purchase them on a web page. Upon returning to Spotify, the book will be automatically saved in their library and available to listen to whenever they want.

Listeners can download content for offline listening, and the automatic bookmarking feature saves their place so they can pick up where they left off. Speed control is also included, with a variety of options to speed up or slow down the pace. 

Porno pulls the pin: The filth will stop in December for global sex sensation

The podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno is one of the world’s most successful audio series, but it’s about to end.

The pitch for the show was simple and it found an instant audience:

Imagine if your Dad wrote a dirty book. Most people would try to ignore it and pretend it had never happened – but not Jamie Morton. Instead, he’s decided to read it to the world in this award-winning comedy podcast. With the help of his friends, James Cooper and Alice Levine, Jamie will be reading a chapter each episode and discovering more about his father than he ever bargained for.

The podcast has had over 430m downloads over six seasons and has spawned a book, sold out live shows (including the Sydney Opera House) and an HBO special.

But in a special three-minute episode released last weekend called “We Have Some News”, Morton, Cooper and Levine explained they were coming to the end and were wrapping their series with three final episodes.

All bad porn must come to an end. The podcast will be coming to a close with two finale episodes (Mon 28 Nov & Mon 5 Dec) plus a WORLD EXCLUSIVE interview with Mr Rocky Flintstone (Mon 12 Dec). This show has been an absolute dream to make and has surpassed all of our expectations and we couldn’t have done it without you, the Belinkers. Thank you for everything! Whilst this is the end of the podcast, it is not the end of Belinda. Watch this space. We’ve got plenty to celebrate before we say goodbye so keep your eyes peeled …

[Listen to My Dad Wrote a Porno here]

Australian Podcast Awards 2022: Big wins for Life Uncut, The Last Outlaws, A Rational Fear

The Australian Podcast Awards powered by iHeart were held on Monday night at Sydney’s Seymour Theatre, celebrating the country’s top podcasts, podcasting moments, and talent across 31 categories. 

The night was hosted by Mitch Churi, ACRA Award winning host of The Night Show on the KIIS Network, and co-host of Is It Just Me? podcast.

See Also: “Every radio nerd’s dream”: Going from mornings to nights with KIIS FM’s Mitch Churi

australian podcast awards

Mitch Churi

The first cab off the rank was Best Arts and Culture Podcast, which went to Let Me Tell You – a podcast from ​​SBS Voices where eight Australians tell listeners, in their own voice, incredible real stories.

Churi then handed over presentation duty for the first time of the night, passing the mic over to Josh Szeps to give the Best History Podcast – or as Szeps called it, the “I can’t believe I’m not up against Marc Fennell award.” Marc Fennell’s Stuff The British Stole did end up taking bronze, but the category was won by The Last Outlaws

Best Indigenous Podcast went to Hi, I’m Eddie. With nobody available to accept the award in person – bad weather had meant that a lot of Melburnians were kept grounded and unable to fly to Sydney – presenters of the award, Brooke Blurton and Matty Mills joked that they’d take it because “when one of us wins, the whole Mob wins.”

[Read the full rundown here]

Podcast Ranker October 2022: Casefile breaks Hamish & Andy’s #1 streak

Triton Digital‘s Australian Podcast Ranker has been released for October, giving insight into the Top 100 Podcasts as well as the Top 10 Publishers in Australia. The survey period was from 1 October through 31 October 2022, as measured by Triton’s Podcast Metrics measurement service. 

Hamish and Andy have had their streak at #1 ended this month by fellow heavy hitter, ARN’s Casefile True Crime. The podcast recorded 993,418 monthly listeners and 2,914,134 downloads in October. 

It wasn’t a long fall for SCA’s Hamish and Andy, however – the previous #1 lands in second spot this month with 941,049 monthly listeners and 2,161,005 monthly downloads. 

In third is ARN’s Life Uncut with Brittany Hockley and Laura Byrne, lifting a spot from last survey and knocking The Teacher’s Trial out of the top three. 

The Teacher’s Trial followed the trial and subsequent guilty verdict of Chris Dawson, subject of The Teacher’s Pet podcast. With the guilty verdict coming through in August, The Teacher’s Trial has now dropped to #30. Fellow News Corp true crime podcast, Shandee’s Story, has lifted 18 places to come in at #10.

The biggest lift in rankings also came from an ARN podcast this month, with catchup podcast Will & Woody lifting 47 places to land at #93. 

The top three publishers for October were ARN with a total of 19,323,975 monthly downloads, LiSTNR (SCA) with 9,716,684 monthly downloads, and Audioboom with 7,289,777. This leaves the top three unchanged.

[See the full October Podcast Ranker here]

News Corp launches partnership with Apple Podcasts

News Corp Australia has announced that it is extending digital subscriptions to its podcasts, launching an audio-only offer on Apple Podcasts.

The new audio-only product bundles News Corp’s collection of true crime podcasts into a single channel on Apple Podcasts called Crime X. Subscribers to the premium offer, Crime X+, receive access to exclusive, early and ad-free audio journalism.

News Corp Australia’s managing director tech networks and new channel partnerships Nicholas Gray said going “off-platform” would allow the company’s podcasts to reach audiences through new channels.

“For a small monthly fee or discounted upfront annual fee, subscribers will be granted early, exclusive and ad-free content, some in a second window after it appears exclusively on our own websites and apps,” Gray said.

“Going directly to consumers for our premium audio content allows us to find new audiences willing to pay for premium audio, showcasing our award-winning journalism. And that includes not only Australian audiences but those tuning into our true crime podcasts internationally.”

Additional, non-audio journalism commonly linked to a podcast topic such as video, photographic galleries, longer reads and breaking news stories will remain exclusive to masthead subscribers.

LiSTNR looks to the stars with It’s a Sign: Your Daily Astrology Tip podcast

LiSTNR has launched the new original podcast, It’s a Sign: Your Daily Astrology Tip. Hosted by astrologer Katherine Gillies, It’s a Sign is a daily, 90-second guide to life. Delving into the complexities of the Zodiac, Gillies charts moon and planetary transits and, in simple language, explains to listeners how these changes translate to their day-to-day lives.

It’s a Sign provides listeners with logical and practical tips in short, bite-sized pieces. Responding to a resurgence in astrology, this new podcast reflects what fans now want: studied, considered astrology based on planetary transits, moon phases and cosmic weather.

It’s a Sign is a unique podcast and has been created specifically for Australian astrology fans, who, until now, have had the majority of their astrological content served to them from the northern hemisphere. This means that by the time US-based astrologers are advising on the day ahead, Australian astrology fans are going to bed.

Katherine Gillies, Australian astrologer from Moon Muse and host of It’s a Sign, said: “I’m so thrilled to create this podcast with LiSTNR and help people demystify astrology. By learning to align your week with the cosmos, you can step into a rhythm and flow which is otherwise untapped. Astrological information distilled and delivered via simple practical tips can have a profound effect on people’s lives. We teach people that there’s more to astrology than regular sun sign horoscopes and that they themselves are incredibly unique, just like their birth chart.

New daily episodes of It’s a Sign: Your Daily Astrology Tip will drop Monday to Friday at 6am. The first episode is available from 21 November, on LiSTNR.

[Listen to It’s a Sign: Your Daily Astrology Tip here]

Wil Anderson and Charlie Clausen bring their podcasts to LiSTNR

Comedian and broadcaster Wil Anderson and actor and writer Charlie Clausen, are bringing their popular podcasts, TOFOP and FOFOP, along with Anderson’s Wilosophy podcast to LiSTNR.

Anderson and Clausen have collaborated on TOFOP (aka Thirty Odd Feet Of Podcast) since 2010 and are now bringing their more than 400-episode library to LiSTNR. On TOFOP, the pair discuss popular culture, film, sport, personal stories, and intense discussions on a range of hypothetical situations.

The aptly named FOFOP sees the pair take TOFOP to an alternative universe, interviewing a range of guests over another 400-plus episodes.

Although on production hiatus,  Wil Anderson will also bring his podcast Wilosophy, where he asks “smart people stupid questions and tries to find out the meaning of life”, to LiSTNR.

Launched in 2014, recent episodes have included guests Josh Szeps, Craig Reucassel, Julia Gillard, Russel Howcroft and Osher Gunsberg.

The three podcasts join Anderson and Clausen’s 2 Guys 1 Cup podcast that came to LiSTNR exclusively earlier this year. Now in its sixth year, 2 Guys 1 Cup discusses the week’s AFL news with added banter. 

[Listen to TOFOP here]

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