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Keeping storytelling at the heart of the audio renaissance

06 June 2023
A session at the IFC AudioDocs 2023 event, featuring presenter and audience members

You can hear it from a few streets away as you approach the venue: music, audio gear, enthusiastic presenters, the general lively chatter of great throngs of people drawn to a topic that’s on the up. You might run into the head of acquisition for a major audio platform or grab a coffee with the host of the most popular UK podcast. 

The Podcast Show, an annual gathering in London, is a big deal. It attracts 10,000 people, attracted by event partners like Spotify, Amazon and BBC Sounds, and a head-spinning programme that reflects the massive ambition and drive there is in the podcast industry. The hub of everything is the event café, where people exchange contacts, show off their latest tools, and court business partners to grow their show and increase their revenue. They talk business and they have the perfect setting for it.

London to Reykjavík

I’m glad I had an opportunity to visit The Podcast Show last month. But, for me personally, it was the second most important audio-focused event that week. A much smaller event took place in Iceland, expertly hosted by RÚV. It was an event that goes to the very core of all that hustle and bustle I saw in London: the stories.

IFC AudioDocs, also known as the International Feature Conference, has been running since 1974. Iceland was an ideal place for us to host this year’s gathering, in a country where an elemental passion for storytelling feeds on people’s close bonds with nature.

At IFC, we draw the attention back to the creative process, the craft of audio storytelling itself. The event, which attracted around 100 participants this year, provides space to dive into listening and how to tell a good story in the best possible way. Public service radio broadcasters have been the pioneers of high-quality audio content, serving as the nurturing space for many of the world’s most talented audio producers.

When you wander through the streets of Reykjavík, spotting art objects behind every second window in the small colourful houses, you understand why almost all Icelanders are creative beings, with a strong relation to art, music and stories in general. 

Thorgerdur Sigurdardottir, radio producer with RÚV and the main organizer for the conference, took us to some magical venues. The Bio Paradis in the heart of Reykjavík, one of the epicentres for cultural life on the island; and Hellisheiði, one of the world’s largest single-site geothermal powerplants. These locations provided a festival vibe to the listening sessions, when participants could lean back and listen uninterrupted over a few days with their peers.

IFC reborn

The IFC will take on a new form for its 50th anniversary next year: the EBU Audio Storytelling Conference will aspire to open the door just a little more to the wider industry and to speak about reaching wider audiences with the best possible content we can produce. To learn from each other and provide the space to be ambitious.

The EBU Audio Storytelling Group – under its new chair, RTÉ’s Liam O’Brien – has great potential to bring the new energy that’s pulsing through the audio sector and marry it to the passion for the craft, reinvigorating our community at the same time. 

The focus on content, the space for in-depth conversations and shared experiences among the audio makers themselves, is a good balance to the crowds at The Podcast Show eager to jump on what will be the next big trend in the podcast industry. All of it is, in the end, about content; unless you have a great story, you have nothing to distribute.

Relevant links and documents

Written by

Edita Kudláčová

Head of Radio

Relevant Links


IFC AudioDocs 2023