Residential Masterclass 2018: Creative Audio – Writing for Radio in a Digital Age

Writing Creative Audio

with Siobhan McHugh, Founding Editor RadioDoc Review, journal of critical analysis of radio documentaries and podcasts 

A six-day residential masterclass focusing on writing creative audio

McHUGH SiobhanAt Varuna, the National Writers' House in the world heritage Blue Mountains, NSW

Monday 5 - Sunday 11 November 2018
Applications close 13 August 2018

Writing Creative Audio Residential Masterclass includes:

• Private writing time in your own writing studio
• One-on-one consultations as well as group sessions led by Siobhan McHugh
• Six days' accommodation at Varuna including meals


About Siobhan McHugh

Siobhán McHugh is a documentary-maker, podcaster, oral historian and podcast critic, whose passion is the affective power of audio storytelling and the burgeoning power of podcasting. Her work has won prestigious awards, including the NSW Premier's Prize for non-fiction and four awards at the New York Radio Festival. She has made over 60 radio documentaries for ABC, RTE and SBS, most now available as podcasts. The latest, The Conquistador, the Warlpiri and the Dog Whisperer, was broadcast in May 2018 on ABC RN. It's part of a podcast series, Heart of Artness, about the crosscultural influences behind the production of Aboriginal art. Siobhan was consulting producer on two major podcasts by The Age newspaper, Phoebe's Fall (2016), which triggered a review of the Victorian Coroner's Act, and Wrong Skin (2018). Siobhan's early books, on the Snowy Mountains Scheme (The Snowy – The People Behind the Power) and Australian women's role in the Vietnam war (Minefields and Miniskirts) began life as audio interviews, crafted into radio documentary.

In 2013, Siobhan founded RadioDoc Review, an online journal that commissions in-depth reviews of world's best audio and podcasts. She is an internationally recognized podcasting critic, who has interviewed Julie Snyder, producer of hit podcasts Serial and S-Town, John Biewen, creator of the acclaimed podcast Seeing White and Julie Shapiro, EP of Radiotopia. She is an annual speaker on podcasting at the Global Editors Network media summit in Europe and is Associate Professor in Journalism at the University of Wollongong. 

Writing Creative Audio
Audio is the new black. Podcasting has seen a renaissance in audio stories and formats, which range from highly crafted reportage and narrative journalism to intimate personal accounts and fictional works. This revitalisation is partly due to the ease and economy of digital audio production – even audio rookies can quickly learn how to make broadcast-quality digital stories and disseminate them as podcasts. Exemplars of the audio storytelling form such as Serial, S-Town and Caliphate attract huge transnational audiences, while indie outlets such as the Radiotopia and Gimlet networks in the US, Earshot on ABC RN and Short Cuts on BBC 3, test the dynamism of the form. Print media outlets from The New York Times to The Australian and The Age are also developing podcasts – a process with which Siobhan is actively involved.

Through a mixture of structured and unstructured sessions you will examine in detail the attributes of creating audio stories. This will include critical listening to diverse audio features and hands-on training in recording, editing and scripting for audio. We will consider: the essential differences of writing a story to be listened to and writing a story to be read, the various elements that makes audio stories work (such as voice, tone, character, sound, rhythm, pace, mix and silence), the skills and technical tools of creating audio stories, as well as emerging opportunities for writers wanting to create audio stories.

To see if this workshop is for you, listen to some of the non-fiction audio works selected by RadioDoc Review's international board (links to audio are in pdf of review) and read the accompanying critiques.

How much does it cost

The fee for the residency is $1750. This residency includes accommodation, workshops and meals.
A special discount is available to all financial Varuna Alumni of $1450.
This workshop is an advanced workshop limited to four participants.

How to apply

Varuna is now accepting applications for the Writing Creative Audio Residential Masterclass.

Writers interested in participating in Writing Creative Audio Residential Masterclass need to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) online to Varuna. Your EOI should include a short, specific statement letting us know what you would most like to gain or to work on during the week as well as a half page synopsis and up to five pages that are indicative of your most recent and relevant work. Please describe your experience in the audio medium (if any).

Please save your EOI as a PDF with the file name: YOUR NAME CREATIVE AUDIO EOI (eg 'MARY SMITH CREATIVE AUDIO EOI') and submit online to Varuna by 5pm (EST) on 13 August 2018.  
Applicants will be notified of the selection outcome by 27 August 2018.

More information

If you need further information about the application process email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 02 4782 5674. Regarding the residency please contact Amy Sambrooke Varuna Creative Director, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Preparing your submission

Submission (electronic copy only)
Please download the application cover sheet, fill out and attach your submission (see above for what to include), ready to upload when you complete the online application form.

The cover sheet includes:
• Your personal contact details
• Brief publication history
• What you would most like to gain or work on during the Residential Masterclass

Your application cover sheet and submission should be saved and uploaded as a single PDF document.
Please save your EOI as a PDF with the file name: YOUR NAME CREATIVE AUDIO EOI (eg MARY SMITH CREATIVE AUDIO EOI)

Online Application Form

Fill out all the fields and upload your prepared EOI submission.

In submitting an application, applicants agree to the following conditions:
• Applications must comply with the program's requirements.
• Applicants must be 18 years or older.
• Submitted material must be the applicant's own original work.
• Submissions including application cover sheet must be uploaded (electronically) by the deadline.
• Application materials are not returned under any circumstances. After the selection process is finished, materials are responsibly disposed of.
• Individual feedback is not provided to unsuccessful applicants.
• Varuna retains information from application forms for one year.

When you submit your application you will see a 'Thank You' screen indicating that your submission has been uploaded and the data sent to Varuna.
Your application is complete. If there are any issues, Varuna will be in touch by email.

Disclaimer: Varuna reserves the right to make changes to its advertised programs and all applications are accepted subject to this proviso.

Click HERE to go to the online APPLICATION FORM - applications for Writing Creative Audio Residential Masterclass are now being accepted and close 13 August 2018.