Outlet Spotlight: Australian Book Review Podcast
ABR readers are addicted to books, not shying away from them – thank goodness
Since 1961, the Australian Book Review magazine (ABR) has been engaging with all branches of the arts to create a forum for writers and reviewers.
In January 2020, the not-for-profit magazine launched the Australian Book Review Podcast. “It was the missing link in our public engagement with readers. It was conceived as a fortnightly podcast but soon became weekly, such was the response,” says ABR Editor, Peter Rose. The podcast launched at the worst possible time with the outbreak of Covid-19 looming but it became essential in the calamity of the months and years that followed. “During Covid lockdown, we produced a number of poetry anthologies or tributes to individual poets. These have proved very popular – Poetry for Troubled Times as we called them,” says Peter.
The ABR Podcast regularly features reviews and commentary along with prize-winning essays and creative writing pulled from the magazine. They endeavour to feature a breadth of subjects and presenters across each episode with one of the editors interviewing a writer or contributor about once a month. “Our aim is to showcase the best content in the magazine and to give it a new life. We’re struck by how different major features can seem in audio form. Often their strongest features become more apparent – more resonant – in podcast form,” says Peter.
The ABR Podcast has long attracted audiences who love books and the arts just as much as the publication's creators. “We have a very enquiring, well-educated readership, and listenership,” says Peter. “ABR readers are addicted to books, not shying away from them – thank goodness.” The team continues to meet readers' and listeners' demand for high-quality, sophisticated and engaged journalism covering the art space. About ten years ago the magazine shifted to include lengthy and timely independent arts reviews, a theme that has extended in the podcast. “There were several reasons, but the two principal ones were the desire to broaden our audience and recognition of the declining space allotted to art criticism in our newspapers – with shorter and shorter space for art review, or none at all,” says Peter.
New episodes of the ABR podcast are released weekly and are available on most podcast platforms.