ABC Podcasts – Science Vs / Rum, Rebels & Ratbags / Confession Booth

Apologies for the absence across the last fortnight or so, things got a bit out of hand and distracting. But through it we’ve been wired in to a shitload of radio, and among it’s pieces three series from ABC that launched last year.

There’s no hiding my love affair with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. For radio, we went through 2JJ archives, Triple J in the ’90s and now Double J again, while on TV it was mostly ABC shows such as Rage and Recovery that educated me. You can see my love letter to those programmes on an earlier post here:

But back to radio and it was one show in particular that made me obsessed with the broadcast format for a number of years.  Appearing every weekday for half an hour then eventually an hour, Hack remains, in my opinion, the benchmark of radio journalism. Even while I was at FBi radio I’d be sure to tune in to Hack everyday, picking it apart bit by bit to try and recreate on my own station.

While away from home for half a decade it was their online presence that kept me up to date with my home country going ons. The ABC faired the digital revolution better than most, and maintained quality over their programming even while changing hosts. And now like everyone else I grab Hack through the magic of podcasting, uploaded daily.

But we digress, as this post isn’t actually about how awesome Hack is. Though it is awesome and you should lock in to it here:

During our random offline wanderings away from music this week we needed more programming than just the one show, and as a result launched from Hack in to a series of First Run podcasts that ABC launched last year. Out to the Exec Producer Angela Stengel for a cracking job on all three.


Science Vs. is the rockstar one of the bunch, and the one that will be back for a new series the soonest. Hosted by scientist  Wendy Zukerman – who’s voice you’ll instantly recognise even if it’s the name that you don’t – the podcast takes on the likes of pornography, weed and even itself in it’s finale. Ten episodes all up, kicking around the twenty minute mark mostly, all of which are a tribute to the quality of production that goes on in the ABC.

Science journalist Wendy Zukerman dissects the latest fad framing itself as scientific fact, wading through the mass of information so you don’t have to.

Do women and men have different brains? Is porn changing the way we have sex? Does race exist? Is sugar really that bad for you?

Everyone has an opinion but then, there’s SCIENCE.


So part of the appeal of Rum, Rebels & Ratbags  is tied to other history podcasts that have properly taken off over the last few years. The Dollop being the most notable, but you don’t have to look hard to find a flooded market. Focussing on Australian history, Rum, Rebels… keeps to the facts, and is more informative than humorous in it’s production. But Australian history is just so freaking ridiculous and comedic that this style is actually an advantage.

Rum, Rebels & Ratbags is history not for the faint-hearted. Historian and author of ‘Girt’ David Hunt and ABC 702 Sydney’s Dom Knight uncover the characters and events left out of your high school history class.

Sir Joseph Banks wasn’t just ‘that plant guy’, but a celebrity playboy botanist who decided Australia was just the place for a penal colony. The lady on the $20 note, Mary Reibey, was deported to Australia for horse theft and cross-dressing, but what she did next will surprise you. And, who circumnavigated Australia first – a French monkey or a South African cat?


If it was studio recorded I’d likely be able to take or leave Confession Booth. But the live element, with it being recorded at GoodGod Small Club, it definitely goes up a notch. The concept is simple – random personalities diatribing beautifully on their own past, owning up to shit that you wouldn’t expect. And people who know how to tell stories are always worth listening to.

Confession Booth is a night of brutal honesty, catharsis and absolution.

Everybody has a deep, dark secret – until they tell an entire roomful of people eager to hear about the most embarrassing, appalling or surprisingly touching moment of their lives.

Hear stories from Tracey Spicer, Brendan Cowell, Lewis Hobba, Michael Hing and more. Be awed, horrified and enthralled by the things that they’ve done and feel relieved that you’re not the only one with a shameful little secret.