POD­CASTS

The Weekend Australian - Review - - The Spot - ERIC GE­ORGE

The Trump pres­i­dency has seemed a bit like Doc­tor Who’s TARDIS, fit­ting far more into four years than should be phys­i­cally pos­si­ble. It’s over­whelm­ing to re­flect on the re­lent­less news on­slaught 2016 un­leashed, but the ABC has given pod­cast lis­ten­ers an en­ter­tain­ing di­gest in the form of Amer­ica, If You’re Lis­ten­ing. This is a pod­cast “about how Don­ald Trump changed the United States and the world”. Or, to put it an­other way, it’s a chance to un­der­stand a lot of things we may have for­got­ten about the Don­ald’s term, in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the 2020 elec­tion. Host Matt Be­van has good form on this ma­te­rial: his pre­vi­ous show, Rus­sia, If You’re Lis­ten­ing, pro­vided a thor­ough, snappy ex­am­i­na­tion of the Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. The same strengths that de­fined the Rus­sian sto­ries are on show in this lat­est ma­te­rial. This is a heav­ily scripted pod­cast, lean­ing far more on archival ma­te­rial than fresh in­ter­views. In all it plays as a kind of “story time with Matt Be­van”. The writ­ing is thor­ough and con­fi­dent in a way that re­flects a jour­nal­ist who has im­mersed them­selves in the sub­ject ma­te­rial across a long pe­riod. And Be­van’s wry tone feels like an hon­est re­flec­tion of what hap­pens when you fall down these ab­surd rab­bit holes. Pro­duc­ers Yas­min Parry and Will Ock­enden, both ex­pe­ri­enced hands at news pod­cast­ing, round out a team that knows how to lend these sto­ries nec­es­sary en­ergy. The lin­ear rhythm of nar­ra­tion and tape is punc­tu­ated by vi­gnettes that pro­vide con­text and set the scene. It doesn’t all to­tally work. A long episode about Trump’s flir­ta­tions with nu­clear war gets tan­gled in sev­eral for­eign pol­icy threads. But a de­tailed look at how the Pres­i­dent see­sawed on gun con­trol poli­cies en­cap­su­lates what this pod­cast does best: a sur­pris­ing and scrupu­lous story with a clear eye on what lis­ten­ers need to hear.

Lis­ten to Amer­ica, If You’re Lis­ten­ing on your favourite pod­cast app.

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