The June 24th New York Festivals Radio Awards ceremony honored exceptional radio content in all lengths and formats across all platforms. Award-winning, producers, directors, presenters and content creators from around the globe took to the stage to accept their glittering trophies and celebrate their success while toasting their peers with a glass of champagne. Truly a night to remember!
For the next few weeks NYF’s Open Mic will feature interviews with the brilliant women and men behind some of the world’s most compelling programs and provide insights and observations from these leaders within the industry.
In this edition of Open Mic, the spotlight is on the Gold award-winning entry “Wrong Skin.” The personal lives podcast takes the listener deep into the Australian outback and into the personal lives of the aboriginal people of the Kimberley, the world’s oldest continuing culture. Wrong Skin reveals the untold mystery of the death of a young indigenous mother, Julie Buck, and disappearance of her boyfriend, Richard Milgin, in the wet season of 1994.
Their story was never public before this and only known to few in their remote community. The pair were together in defiance of traditional laws that forbade their relationship and met a tragic end. After a year of building trust and a month living on country, reporter Richard Baker gave a platform to voices seldom heard to uncover the deeply personal disparate themes of promised girls, skin rules, tribal punishment, affinity with country and the clash between white man and traditional law.
Open Mic spent a few minutes with Richard Baker, Senior Journalist, The Age Melbourne Australia to learn more about the creative process behind his award-winning program. In the interview below Richard discusses the impetus for his podcast and the keys to developing the story with integrity.
New York Festivals: What was the inspiration for your award-winning podcast “Wrong Skin” and what did you ultimately hope to accomplish?
Richard Baker: The inspiration for Wrong Skin was a telephone call from an indigenous Australian friend of mine who lives in the middle of the West Australian desert who told me that his “cousin brother’ in the Kimberley had an untold story about a suspected double murder of a Romeo and Juliet couple in 1994. I was hooked from that conversation and I wanted to give this young couple and the people who loved them a voice and a chance at justice.
New York Festivals: Tell us about your creative process and how you overcame any obstacles?
Richard Baker: It took a long time to build trust with people who live 5000 kilometres and another world away from me. I spent hours on the phone and 30 days out in the communities making friends and listening. Patience and respect were the keys to success. Me and my small team just believed in our endurance and hoped that the integrity with which we tried to tell the story would override any fears that we were meddling or somehow being racist.
Richard Baker: The biggest influence on me creatively is probably the team of writers at the New Yorker. I just love the way they structure their story telling. In terms of podcasts, the NPR team are always ahead of the game with their approach and I learn much from them. I always try to think “cinematic” when setting the scenes in my podcasts and take a lot of notice how shows like “True Detective” or “The Wire” work their narrative and scenes.
New York Festivals: What are the top 3 pointers you’d give someone just starting out in world of audio?
Richard Baker: Top 3 pointers: Nothing’s impossible. Persist. Think cinematic.
New York Festivals: What project is next on the horizon for you and your team?
Richard Baker: Next project is a multi episode podcast series due for release later this year on a massive heroin trafficking operation targeting Australia via a North Korean freight ship.
For a complete list of all the 2019 New York Festivals Radio Award winners, please visit: HERE