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While she first found success with women’s website Mamamia in 2007 (and more recently with her delightful sparkly outfits on Instagram), Mia Freedman also jumped on the podcasting wave earlier than most.
“In about 2015, I noticed that women were starting to listen to podcasts more. I thought, ‘Hey, we make content for women, so we should be delivering it however they want to consume it.’ So we started this podcast called Mamamia Out Loud, which was just three women talking about what was in the news that week or what they were thinking about.”
Those three women, Jess Stephens, Holly Wainwright and Mia herself, tackle everything from abortion to the royal wedding. And thousands of other women listen every week. Only a couple of years ago, Mia says, the act of making a podcast where women talk about their lives was quietly revolutionary here in Australia. Today, Mamamia Podcast Network shows like Sealed Section, Hitched and Lady Startup consistently rank in the iTunes podcast charts.
“Certainly on commercial radio, I can’t think of any shows that are hosted by more than one woman,” explains Mia. “For decades radio stations have said that no one wants to listen to women talking, but we really proved that wrong because now we have 18 podcasts and counting.”
She attributes the huge demand for podcasts by and for women to both the accessibility and intimacy of the format.
“I think that we’re very busy and we like to multitask, and it’s easy to do while you’re listening to something. A lot of women listen to podcasts while they’re cooking or exercising or looking after kids or commuting to work. I actually listen to podcasts in the shower. It’s also a very intimate medium, so you end up feeling like the hosts are your friends.”
As podcasts grew in popularity, so did the Mamamia community. In 2017, Mia decided to host the first live podcast recording of Mamamia Out Loud in Sydney, and the response was overwhelming.
“One thing that the internet has been great for is that people can consume content whenever they want it and wherever they want it, but there’s also been this real-world desire to get together and watch podcasts as live shows. Now, we’re in the process of a national tour and lots of people asked us to come to Canberra, so here we are!”
At the live shows, that sense of community and trust is key for both the podcast hosts and the listeners.
“I love to perform,” Mia laughs, “and it’s lovely to get that immediate feedback. When it’s just us in the podcast studio, we know people are listening and people are discovering Mamamia fresh through the podcasts, but what is nice is getting to meet them and having selfies in the foyer and chatting to them.”
As someone who spent most of her career working in print media, Mia has embraced podcasting and the live events as a more nuanced way to communicate with audiences.
“I think that podcasting gives you some shades of grey. Written content doesn’t allow for you to sound a little bit tentative, but it’s a lot harder to misinterpret either deliberately or accidentally something someone says in a podcast because you’ve got the context around it. Podcasts feel more vulnerable than print somehow.”
What: Mamamia Out Loud Live
Where: Canberra Theatre Centre
When: 7.30pm, 27 July
How much: $40
Image via facebook.com/mmoutloud