In The Podcast Review, guest reviewer Jessie Borrelle takes a look at a highlight of the international podcasting spectrum.

HowSound is an anatomy lesson for both cultural voyeurs and cultural producers. Part instruction manual, part sonic handbook HowSound pulls apart radio stories like a chef carving a Sunday roast, each cut is held up for close inspection and analysis. The tagline for the program is ‘The Backstory to Great Radio Storytelling’, which sums it up nicely. I probably could have avoided that roast metaphor entirely.

HowSound found its way into my headphones courtesy of Paper Radio’s talented producer and sound designer Jon Tjhia. I’m going to cheat a bit and pour his quote right into the belly of this recommendation.

‘HowSound is probably my most listened to podcast at the moment. I really like how it takes you on a back room tour of how really interesting radio is made, and dissects the storytelling.

‘It’s aimed at people who make radio, but honestly, it’s the closest I’ve found to middlebrow radio criticism — except that it’s hosted in very straightforward, sometimes mildly over simplistic, teacherly language.

‘Perhaps the best thing about it is that it’s just a great way to find out about radio pieces from everywhere (at least on the US public radio radar) — and to really invest a little brainspace to considering some of the issues they raise.’

While Jon described it as occasionally simplistic, it’s definitely not an Idiot’s Guide to the medium. In each edition Rob Rosenthal, a freelance producer, former Salt educator and teacher of Transom Workshops, walks the listener through a radio story. Rosenthal plays a portion of the story (sometimes all of it) and — depending on the producer’s degree of experience — traces the pattern, rationale and technique present in the piece.

The podcast varies from anecdotes about, say, swallowing your shyness (excellent insights for nascent producers) and interviewing difficult subjects, or story structure (there is a recent episode devoted entirely to napkin scribbles of story arcs). Listening to HowSound can be a revelatory experience, it isn’t an exercise in demystifying the art of auditory but rather more like an X-ray of the magical medium of storytelling.

See what we mean. Recommended podcasts:

For beginners:
Leaving a Mark.

For everyone:
A Trip To The Dentist,
The Green Lawns of Texas
Krulwich on Gorilla Cage Drama.

For the more nuts and bolts stuff:
My Kingdom for Some Structure
Jad’s Brain

For Twitter lovers:

Originally from New Zealand, Jessie Borrelle is a Melbourne-based writer, editor and an executive producer of the antipodean podcast Paper Radio.