Win for Phoebe’s Fall Podcast

UOW’s Dr Siobhan McHugh and a team of journalists from The Age newsroom have won the documentary and storytelling category for their podcast Phoebe’s Fall in the inaugural Cast Away awards.  

The Cast Away’s are the first ever Australian podcast awards to give podcasters the opportunity to be recognised for their work and to celebrate the medium that is podcasting. 

“Phoebe’s Fall was fabulous research-teaching nexus,” said Dr McHugh from the School of Arts, English and Media. 

“I lectured on the making of the podcast week by week, for my Narrative Portfolio subject and incorporated student feedback into some aspects of the production. 

“Additionally, the podcast is an example of an Action Research project in a dynamic academy-industry collaboration. I was the Consulting Producer along with Julie Posetti who is head of digital capability at Fairfax Media.” 

Phoebe’s Fall has had over a million downloads to date and has triggered a review of the Victorian Coroner’s Act. It also won a Melbourne Press Club Quills Award in November 2016. Dr McHugh is presenting a paper on the Phoebe’s Fall as an ethnographic case study at the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) in Cartagena, Colombia in July. 

Dr McHugh’s research examines the aesthetics and transnational impact of crafted audio storytelling from broadcast radio documentary to rapidly emerging adaptations triggered by the post-Serial podcasting boom. Her research is also concerned with the affective power of sound and the transformations of voice achieved when oral history and journalism are creatively adapted for an aural format, such as a documentary or podcast. 

She is Founding Editor of RadioDoc Review (, an online journal that brings together scholars, practitioners and industry figures to develop in-depth critical analysis of the audio documentary/feature form, now commonly disseminated as podcast.

The Podcast

The complex and beautiful Phoebe Hanajuk was only 24, when she died the most horrific death.

While living twelve stories high with Anthony Hampel, a son of Melbourne’s legal establishment, Phoebe plunged feet first, 40 metres down the apartment garbage chute.

She survived the epic fall, but bled to death alone at the bottom after the garbage compactor virtually severed her right foot off.

The coroner decided Phoebe had climbed in to the chute by herself. Misadventure was the recorded cause of death, despite the fact there was no CCTV footage of the event, no fingerprints at the top and there were traces of blood in unusual places.

Doubts are raised. How did she really get in to the chute? 

And why?

Through six captivating episodes and extras hear her story, and decide for yourself.

Listen to the award winning podcast: