The gutting of a national treasure trove

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Siobhan McHugh

The serendipity of hearing something unexpected, which happens on radio but not in a self-curated podcast ecology, is crucial if we are to counter the echo chambers that arguably contributed to the rise of Donald Trump.

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About the author

Siobhan McHugh is founding editor (2013) of the first scholarly journal of radio documentary critical studies, RadioDoc Review. Her research focus is on the affective power of audio storytelling, the rise of podcasting and the aesthetics of the radio/audio documentary format. Her latest documentary, Eat Pray Mourn (ABC 360 Documentaries 2013) is a collaboration with anthropologist Dr Jacqui Baker that explores themes of violence, power and magical thinking in contemporary Indonesia. She is currently part of an Australian Research Council project examining relational aspects in the production of Aboriginal art.

For over three decades, Siobhan has been a documentary-maker, oral historian, and writer, whose work has won prestigious awards including the NSW Premier’s Prize for non-fiction and gold and bronze awards at the New York Radio Festival. Her social histories of the Snowy Mountains Scheme (The Snowy – The People Behind the Power, 1995), Australian women’s role in the Vietnam war (Minefields and Miniskirts, 2004) and the Australian cotton industry (Cottoning On, 1996) are cited in high impact Web of Science journals and held in libraries around the world. She has made over 60 radio documentaries, on topics from Australian sectarianism, the Stolen Generations and reconciliation to women in war and orphan girls of the Irish Famine.

Siobhan's academic and journalistic practice is concerned with the transformations of minority voices. Her doctoral thesis examined intersections and synergies between oral history and the radio documentary form. Her oral history collections are held at the National Library of Australia and State Library of NSW, and have featured at the National Archives of Australia and the National Museum of Australia. Siobhan has presented her research at invited seminars at Harvard University, Concordia University and the Centre for Documentary Studies at Duke University, been a keynote speaker at the International Radio Festival, Iran, delivered the inaugural lecture at the John Hume Global Irish Studies Centre, UNSW, and made guest appearances at the Sydney, Melbourne and Byron Bay Literary Festival and the Wheeler Cultural Centre, Melbourne.