Siobhan McHugh sits at a desk, in front of a laptop with a book on the table, in this black and white image.

‘Horrifying’ podcast with humour and heart takes out Walkley Award, Australian Podcast Awards

‘Horrifying’ podcast with humour and heart takes out Walkley Award, Australian Podcast Awards

The Greatest Menace, co-produced by UOW’s Professor Siobhan McHugh, spotlights Australia’s history of homophobia

A podcast co-produced by the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) Honorary Associate Professor Siobhan McHugh that explores a ‘gay prison’ experiment has been recognised at the 67th Walkley Awards, announced in Sydney last week (17 November).

The Greatest Menace, an eight-part original series, took out the Walkley Award for Best Radio/Audio Feature.

Produced over three years by journalists Patrick Abboud and Simon Cunich, The Greatest Menace examines a tiny Australian town with a dark secret – that it was once home to the world’s only “gay prison”. The podcast also explores Patrick’s personal story of coming out as a gay man in a homophobic Arab-Australian culture.

An internationally recognised expert in podcasting, Professor McHugh was the Consulting Producer on The Greatest Menace.

Professor McHugh said the team were delighted to have such an important and groundbreaking piece of work celebrated at Australia’s most prestigious journalism awards.

“I am incredibly proud of The Greatest Menace, and of the team who brought this horrifying story to life. It is a story of profound darkness but Patrick infuses it with such humour and heart. It is a story that must be told.

“Collaboration is fundamental to this type of project, and it was a real team effort to bring the story of The Greatest Menace into the light. I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to work alongside investigative journalists and producers of this calibre.”

On Monday (21 November), The Greatest Menace took out a suite of awards at the 2022 Australian Podcast Awards, held in Sydney. It received Gold in the categories of Best True Crime Podcast and The Creativity Award, as well as Silver for Best Documentary Podcast and Bronze for Best History Podcast.

The Greatest Menace was also recognised earlier this year, at the New York Radio Festival, where it won Gold.

It was Professor McHugh’s seventh gold award at the New York Radio Festival; in previous years, she has been recognised for Gertie’s LawThe Last Voyage of the Pong SuPhoebe’s FallWrong Skin, and Heart of Artness, among other projects.

Professor McHugh is a veteran audio journalist and storyteller, former lecturer in UOW’s School of the Arts, English and Media, and academic, who has published extensively on audio storytelling and podcasting. Her book, The Power of Podcasting: Telling Stories Through Sound, was published earlier this year. 

Supported by The Walkley Foundation, the annual Walkley Awards reward excellence, independence, innovation and originality in storytelling and distinctive reporting in Australian journalism. They exist to recognise “creative and courageous acts of journalism that seek out the truth and give new insight to an issue”.