The Age picks up global gong for podcast foray

With podcast listenership on the rise, on-demand audio is capturing the attention of listeners engaged by programming covering a robust number of genres and topics.

Podcast entries taking home Gold at the recent New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards included Fairfax Media‘s Phoebe’s Fall.

The Podcast series documents the short life and brutal death of 24 year-old Phoebe Handsjuk.

On the night of her death she plunged 40 metres down the garbage chute from the 12 storey apartment she shared with her boyfriend Antony Hampel, a son of Melbourne’s legal establishment. 

She survived the fall. But the garbage compactor at the bottom had virtually severed her right foot. Phoebe bled out in the dark, alone, her jeans around her knees.

The podcast explores how did she get into the chute? And why? 

The Coroner decided she had climbed in herself. He recorded death by misadventure. But there were no fingerprints at the top, and no CCTV footage. Her family doubts the Coroner’s version was even physically possible. 

As a result of The Age newspaper’s investigation the Victorian Government announced a review of the Coroner’s Act amid widespread public concern about the inquest into Phoebe’s death.

Attorney General Martin Pakula told The Age the review would determine whether changes made in 2008 to limit appeal rights have gone too far, making it almost impossible to challenge a coroner’s finding. 

Richard Baker, senior investigative journalist with The Age and Pheobe’s Fall co-presenter, was in New York to receive the award on behalf of the production team including fellow investigators Michael Bachelard and Nick McKenzie. Producers Tom McKendrick & Tim Young  and Consulting Producers Julie Posetti & Siobhan McHugh.

Baker tole The Age, the idea of narrative audio storytelling was a significant departure from the typical course of an investigative feature series at a newspaper. “We might have been lucky to get a four thousand word feature, but I just don’t think that would have covered the breadth of everything as well as telling it through audio.” 

Other Australian podcast entries to win awards included Community Radio Station 2SER 107.3 winning both Gold and Silver awards in the category of Information and Documentary for programs Think: Health (Gold radio winner) and Think: Digital Futures (silver radio winner).

While The Messenger” Behind the Wire and The Wheeler Centre Australia picked up the coveted Grand Award (National or International Affairs).

A full list of Australian winners at the recent awards can be found here.



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