Publication Details

Lindgren, M. and McHugh, S. A. (2013). Not dead yet: emerging trends in radio documentary forms in Australia and the US. Australian Journalism Review, 35 (2), 101-113.

Link to publisher version (URL)

Australian Journalism Review


This paper maps contemporary trends in Australian and American radio documentary production. The genre is experiencing a renaissance, as can be seen in the growing number of websites, blogs and podcasts dedicated to radio documentary productions. In addition, the number of freelancers wanting to produce radio documentaries has increased dramatically in Australia over the past five years. This paper traces the evolution of radio documentary forms and explores how globalisation of radio listenership via podcasting and sharing of content on social media is beginning to change documentary. It explores how stellar programs such as This American Life (TAL) and Radiolab are influencing storytelling forms in Australia, which are moving away from artful, abstract writing through sound, made popular by European producers from the '60s, towards a more first-person, explicitly narrated format favoured by American producers. The study draws on qualitative in-depth interviews with key radio documentary and feature figures from both the US and Australia. It is a scoping study into the under-researched area of radio documentary, focusing on changing storytelling forms in an internationalised media landscape.