Student a winner at podcast awards

University of Otago marine science and science communication student Max Balloch in his bedroom...
University of Otago marine science and science communication student Max Balloch in his bedroom/podcast recording studio. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
After winning one of New Zealand’s top podcasting awards, Max Balloch admits he might be getting a bit ahead of himself.

The University of Otago second year marine science and science communication student has only been in the game for just over a year, and was more than a little surprised when he won the Independent Podcast of the Year award at the 2022 New Zealand Podcast Awards, and was also runner-up in the best entertainment award and best rising star award.

The awards were for his "Dear Nature" podcast, which is "education in disguise".

"By creating beautiful journeys and emotional stories, powerful thought prompts and complex knowledge is able to be packaged in.

"One episode details the development of money throughout history, while another is nothing but a tearing philosophical journey."

He said the podcast was created in September 2021 and was the result of "a gradual accumulation of ideas".

"The first episodes and themes were quite different from what they are now, because I've gradually refined the style and identity of the show.

"My philosophy with this kind of thing has always been, quite simply, to go do it.

"Everyone has ideas and dreams that sprout in their minds. We just have to make the effort to foster those ideas, rather than dismissing them and dreaming of the ‘what could have been'."

He said crucial to that philosophy was the acceptance that things were not perfect straight away.

"The first podcast episodes sounded like they were recorded in hell itself. But after lots of learning and practise, I'm very happy with the production quality.

He said he had always wanted his work to be unique.

"I don't want to just be another drop in an ocean of similar, indistinct content.

"I want it to be a monument that stands out. And that has made the fruits of the podcast awards so much sweeter — I won them doing what I enjoy, on my terms, with my style and format.

"That is so rewarding. I think it legitimises my work a bit."

While he believed the award "legitimised" his work, he felt it was "almost premature".

"I'm undeniably still learning how to walk in this field, still learning the basics.

"I'm very excited to see what running is like."

Thomas Rillstone, of Invercargill, also won a silver award in the best education podcast, for his "History of Aotearoa New Zealand" podcast.