The Return of the Good Story

Storytelling in all of its Podcast Glory

Jeffrey Cranor described the single person story teller and scary story round a campfire idea behind Welcome to Night Vale. The first podcasts had very strange content but there was continuity throughout the podcasts. There weren’t any rules about the characters or the situations but there was the theme of a small town running through all the episodes. Jeffrey said ‘The heart of world-building is that all the characters are humans changed by time”.

Monika works for ORF in Austria, who can tell a fictional podcast series? This was the start of Monika developing a fictional podcast series. Monika went to the Film Institute in Vienna. Here she started a writers room with the students there.

In these writers rooms there were very specific structures for the episodes for example: 3 acts, 20 mins, 9 beats (development steps) and there should be an Act break (something which should happen in each Act). This then developed the episode and what Monika said that ‘this should really restrict creativity but it didn’t, it acted like a frame for creativity’. She said that this really worked and encouraged collective thinking or the collective brain! So each student was responsible for one episode with the other students acting as editors.

To record an episode they brought in famous radio drama actors, film actors and also famous radio DJs. The director encouraged improvisation, this helped the podcast sound more natural. It was important to Monika that these stories were told by the younger generation so that it appealed to young people.

Caroline Pouron works at P3, SR, which started as a classic radio station for young people she said, ‘It’s hard to tell a story in classic radio as people come and go’. P3 documentaries had a huge increase in listening due to podcasting as story telling and podcasts is a perfect marriage. But once this was a success and everyone started doing document podcasts P3 wanted to start thinking about the future.

Radio drama at SR had a bad reputation as something old and tired and hard to understand especially on linear radio. The thinking was ‘how could we make a binge worthy podcast and how could they make more than theatre, irresistible and easy to understand?’ In the first drama podcast series they did they were not subtle; it was called The Voices of the Dead, inspired by TV and written by one person.

Their new podcast is a crime drama where the story is told through interrogation tapes. The team at P3 is always thinking about the next big thing, where can they go next – a podcast about a fictional Youtuber obviously. This is a new junk cut, this YouTube style of podcast is really cutting edge. They then moved on to a podcast which is a documentary about a young man who is a drug addict, it follows him in getting clean. The documentary inspired the drama that inspired the documentary…we now have to look for the next thing!