As Digital Journal noted last week
, the popularity of podcasts is on the rise, and festivals like the one at Hot Docs give fans of the medium a chance to engage with some of their favourite hosts, and hear about the production process itself. Podcasts are creating a lively, engaged audience with the use of a personal touch and in-depth exploration of a wide variety of topics.
Lining up for my venture into all things podcast on Saturday, I heard a lot of that enthusiasm pouring out of people’s mouths — despite the winter weather finally hitting the pavement outside the theatre. Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids
was a favourite over the weekend, and there was a lot of excitement for Sook-Yin Lee’s ‘powernap’ edition of her bed-bound advice show Sleepover
. While I missed out on these two riveting productions, I was lucky enough to see the ever-popular Science Vs
The show is a popular science podcast hosted by Australian science journalist Wendy Zukerman. Each episode examines the everyday fads and trends of modern life, putting these ideas under a scientific microscope to see which ones hold true. In a world of fake news sites and ‘post-truth’,
the kind of fact checking
on Science Vs has never been more important. Science Vs has covered subjects as wide-ranging as gun control and hypnosis, but this week’s special live edition of the show catered to our appetites: the topic was the debated health benefits of wine, coffee and chocolate.
Zukerman took the stage with her producer Kaitlin Sawrey to pick apart the popular theories around the consumption of these three products. While there was not much to ‘prove’ by the end of the show — food studies are notoriously difficult to nail down conclusively — it was one wonderful, science-filled ride. To add to the fireworks of standing around and reading from a well-constructed script, Zukerman and Sawrey added some much-appreciated visuals to the theatre screen and a colourful enactment of an antioxidant interacting with a free radical. It’s comforting to know that any top-rated science podcast can be improved with the addition of balloons and cartoon graphics.
The question and answer period gave fans of the show a chance to hear what it was like to put together the eight weeks of material — interviews, research and editing — that make up an episode of Science Vs. It was also informative to hear how many complaints the show got about their factual account of the proper spelling of the plural form of 'octopus' — it's octopuses, as validated by an official from the Oxford English Dictionary.
From all the enthusiasm I saw on the rainy street and inside the comfort of the Hot Docs theatre, it seems very likely that the festival will return next year, and I couldn’t be happier about that. You can check out the different shows that appeared at the festival, including Science Vs, on iTunes