Losing a job in radio forced writer, radio presenter and producer Jarrod Pickford to reassess his career and what it meant to tell stories to an audience. Like so many in the media world, his love of discovering tales unknown to readers and listeners pushed him to go out and find those people with yarns to tell, and record them.
His series of podcasts,The Country To Coast Trail, traverse the terrain of his native Moyne Shire to find locals telling him histories and narratives from Port Fairy to Peterborough. Mr Pickford says he approached the shire council with his idea - "and they were totally down for it."
While he may know the southwest as his childhood home, Mr Pickford wants to explore all of Victoria and discover other unrevealed tales we should hear. He bases his podcasts on places he feels he - and the rest of us - should know.
"I was really keen to get into these random places I didn't know much about, like, let's say Peterborough, where I went for holidays as a kid," Mr Pickford said.
"It's such a cool little town because it hasn't changed since the 80s. It hasn't developed so much. What I wanted to do was capture this in a podcast format. So when people are driving into Peterborough, they can hear the podcast and might think, "Ah, it's a sleepy little town; it hasn't really moved or changed since the 70s."
Among Mr Pickford's guests are people with stories from their childhood, from the past - and some with stores of their life in the public eye, such as Shane Howard, former member of the band Goanna and proud Killarney resident. So how are the guests chosen?
"We have a researcher that goes into the town; I knew some people and the council knew some people, so we have a filter system," Mr Pickford says.
"We are looking for personalities and people that can speak into a microphone. And usually we find one or two characters; usually they're connected. We send in a researcher who finds all this information, then we send in a podcaster. In the Moyne stories it was me, I went in and recorded and interviewed all these people.
"We cut up the interviews; we have a writer who pieces them together. Our writer is amazing; his name's Jeff Jenkins, he wrote Molly Meldrum's biography; he writes the scripts for us and pieces them together. The scripts come back to me, I voice them; they go back to the audio producers who put them together; they go to the app developer, and on the app."
This kind of attention to detail is necessary, Mr Pickford says, for a podcast to really strike an audience. His plan, he says, is to use interactive maps and new geo-location technology so travellers will be able to drive to a town and the geo-located podcasts will automatically play just before you enter into each town.
"It's like having a tour guide that you can pull straight from your pocket," Mr Pickford says.
"Every town has a story, and the story should be on a geo-allocated podcast. I'm a huge fan of Lonely Planet and my idea was to make a digital Lonely Planet, and in the last year since I began Storytowns, it started to evolve.
"Now I'm working with tourism bodies and shires and councils so each town will have a podcast. Hopefully sometime next year we'll have Victoria covered, so if you're driving from one end of Victoria to the other and you want to go the back roads, to every lovely little place, these towns will have their own content; we'll introduce you to the town and the people as you're driving. That's the idea."
More at https://storytowns.com.au/
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