One of the best programs you’ve never seen and have probably never heard is Conversations broadcast on ABC Radio across Australia.
It’s also available as a podcast, which means you can listen to it any time and anywhere you please.
In fact, Conversations is the most popular podcast in Australia, with close to four million downloads each month.
The best part however is that it costs absolutely nothing.
As its name suggests, it features discussions with many varied and interesting guests — and not just the serial offenders you see time and time again on TV.
You have probably never heard of most of them, but they all have one thing in common — a fascinating story to tell.
Personally, I like to download and listen to them while I’m out walking for exercise — at 45 minutes a pop they’re perfect.
You may recognise Richard Fidler’s name from his days with the comedy trio The Doug Anthony Allstars (DAAS), which disbanded back in 1994.
After moving to Brisbane in 2005, he took on the newly configured 11am to 3pm slot on 612 ABC Brisbane.
The first hour was devoted to a long interview program known as Conversations, which could also be heard on 702 ABC Sydney.
Fidler must have been doing something right, because he never looked back. From 2012, has focused solely on Conversations.
After filling in for the All-Star when he took an extended break to write a book, former Radio National arts journalist Sarah Kanowski joined the show as a regular host in 2018.
Interviews run to about 45 minutes and are with guests who have something to say, or an exciting story to tell.
They’re sometimes moving, sometimes weird and sometimes funny — sometimes all of these things rolled into one.
Listeners can even nominate someone they think might be a worthy candidate for interview.
It could be a family member, neighbour, or perhaps even a colleague.
Although guests are often not known to the wider community, they are people who have seen and done amazing things, and have a story to tell.
If you happen miss a conversation, don’t panic — they’re archived all the way back to 2009, and can be searched and downloaded.
For non-technical readers, a podcast is a recording that you can download and play on your mobile phone using an app, generally also available free.
Subscribing costs nothing, and can be easily done through most podcasting apps.
If you have an Apple iPhone or device, the Podcast app comes pre-installed (it’s the purple one).
For Android devices, you can use Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Stitcher and so on.
You can also subscribe and listen to Conversations via the ABC Listen app.
To subscribe via the RSS feed, use this link: https://www.abc.net.au/local/podcasts/conversationspodcast.xml
The RSS feed is limited to the 250 most recent episodes.
You can hear Conversations on ABC Radio, Monday to Friday, at 11am
It can also be heard on Radio National from Monday to Friday, at 3pm, and Saturday at 4pm
Some of our favourites from the many hundreds of conversations available:
- Meet David Lane whose great uncle, a journalist called William Lane, came up with the idea of setting up the perfect communal society in the 1890s. New Australia was carved out of the Paraguayan jungle and bravely supported by hundreds of excited pioneers, including the woman on our 10 dollar note – Mary Gilmore.
- Meet Mike Chapman, an Aussie songwriter and producer who became one of the biggest names in the music business in the 70s and 80s and has worked with some of music’s biggest names. He penned many of the hits we know and love as well as writing number #1 hits for the likes of The Sweet, Smokey, and Suzi Quatro. He produced Blondie’s classic album, Parallel Lines, which sold more than 20 million copies.
- Meet Ivonne Ranisch and Matthew Ferguson, the first tourists to visit North Korea. Despite widespread reports of mass starvation, North Koreans are told they live in the happiest, most prosperous land in the world. Matt and Ivonne decided they had to see for themselves. For Matt, the experience was so weird, he had to keep pinching himself to make sure it was all really happening. For Ivonne, who had grown up in Stalinist East Germany, the propaganda was all too familiar.
- Meet mountaineer Lincoln Hall who reached the summit of Mt Everest in 2006. On the way down he suffered severe altitude sickness, and was left to die . . . but he survived. Lincoln spent a very, very strange night near the summit of the mountain.
- Meet Mark Tedeschi, senior Crown Prosecutor for NSW. Mark tells the story of the crime that shocked a nation. In 1960, the NSW Government launched a lottery to help raise money for the the construction of the Sydney Opera House. It was won by the Thorne family, but a man named Stephen Bradley decided to extort their winnings by kidnapping their eight year old son.
If these yarns don’t take your fancy, there’s hundreds more from which to choose.