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5 Questions with Kellie Riordan

Kellie Riordan

Kellie Riordan is the founder and director of Deadset Studios, a podcast production house with clients that include the BBC, SBS, ABC, ARN, Pinna, iHeartRadio and Global UK. Kellie was founding managing editor of ABC’s podcast unit Audio Studios, and has launched more than 50 new programs, many of them critically acclaimed, such as Walkley award winner Unravel True Crime, Ladies, We Need to Talk, and leadership podcast Curveball, which she hosts. 

Q1. What’s been your best career move?


Setting up my podcast production company, Deadset Studios. I was in a job that I loved, running the podcast team at the ABC, and I'd had a fabulous career, both in radio and in podcasting, so it was a tough decision. But I got to that place, like many people did in the pandemic, where I was thinking about my next chapter. I could see podcasts were expanding and I wanted to play more in the global podcast sphere, where I had a lot of contacts. But it was a brave decision, in October 2020, without really any idea of how to run a business. Thankfully, through sheer grit and determination and learning from some mistakes, I've been able to establish a lovely little company that’s growing all the time.


Q2. What do you wish you'd known when you started out in media?


I wish I’d known to be a little bit more measured when navigating the things that women have to navigate when they're having children. For me that happened right when my career was taking off, and I found it frustrating that I was stalled at that point. I was moved out of the job I had, simply because I didn't want to work full-time anymore. That wouldn't happen now, but that was only 15 years ago in an organisation like the ABC. I wish I’d had the foresight to put aside my anger and think, okay, I've been dealt this hand, how can I proactively make this work for me? It’s about knowing what you can control and what you can't. I wish I’d known that even if you take a sideways step, and even if it doesn't feel right at the time, if you're a good person with integrity, and you're good at your job, it ultimately works out in the end. I wish I’d had a little bit more patience and trust.


Q3. What’s the best advice you've been given?


My mum says, “Bite off more than you can chew, and then chew hard.” If you're not quite ready to do something yet but you nearly are, don't wait to be completely ready to step up. Mum encouraged me to buy a house probably before I could afford it, and thank goodness because I got in there before this ridiculous housing boom. It's just good advice all round. The other person who gives me similar advice is my general manager at Deadset Studios, Ann Chesterman. Running a small business, you're always thinking, can we make it work? But when I get a little nervous, she just says, “Back yourself. Go for it.”


Q4. What do you think the media will look like in 10 years’ time?


Great stories and compelling content will be very important in 10 years’ time, but those stories won't necessarily be told by traditional, legacy, capital-M media organisations anymore. So many brands, thought leaders and influencers understand the power of story, and they are telling their own. Stories are what connect us as human beings, and the people who told stories that were amplified in the past were in the media. In the age of social media and the internet, so many more storytellers and types of storytelling will exist, so it won't be the big masthead brands necessarily that dominate the national and international agenda.


Q5. How does the podcasting industry stack up in terms of gender equality?


People like Joe Rogan suck up a lot of oxygen, but there are a lot of women's voices in podcasting. Podcasting has given power to women's voices in a way that mainstream media haven’t, and that's particularly the case for diverse voices, whether that’s Yumi Stynes on Ladies, We Need to Talk or Antoinette Lattouf on her new show, The Antoinettes. Overseas there are companies like Broccoli Productions, which focuses on diverse voices, or Hello Sunshine, Reese Witherspoon's production company. Lemonada Media is another one, which has the hit podcast Wiser Than Me, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Women have been given the power to tell their stories in a fairly unfiltered way as well – because even the women who did have a microphone traditionally were vetted and had to look and speak a certain way. Women are at the helm of a very strong percentage of the top 10 podcasts. If you look at the top radio shows in the country, they’re largely dominated by men, occasionally with a woman who still plays the sidekick role, so podcasts elevate the voices of women in a way that even radio could do a better job of.

Join Kellie Riordan at this year's conference for the Hello World: How to Create a Podcast That Lands an Audience workshop. Whether you're creating a podcast for yourself or your employer, Kellie will equip you with the essential tools to turn your concept into a successful audio product. Learn how to develop a format, pitch your idea, and enter the market with confidence. Don't miss this opportunity to elevate your podcasting skills!

Women in Media Conference


Interview by Susan Horsburgh


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