mobile podcast studio

Van Life: A portal to the heartlands

WORDS: Kimberley Furness with Nat Dowling

Anyone who’s heard the OAK backstory knows that a love of print and honest storytelling inspired me to launch a magazine to share our stories.

But something happened along the way. I fell in love with podcasting. And as I met more of you I wanted to know more about your own back stories.

 A Friend of Mine podcast was born.  

The human voice is such a powerful and emotive instrument. It makes audio one of the most intimate forms of media. You don’t have to read between the lines.

Over a few seasons now, I’ve had in-depth chats and courageous conversations with regional women in business. I’ve also witnessed the power and positive impact of audio storytelling. 

There’s potency in giving someone a platform to voice their experience. People who listen to the personal stories are also rewarded. If they can do it, so can I.

I know a woman who was inspired by an episode to open a creative space in rural NSW to support local artists and attract visitors off the highway and into their tiny town. For another woman, the discovery of A Friend of Mine broadened her horizons and nudged her to finally make the move from the city to rural Queensland. She now lives and works in Roma.

That’s what happens when you listen to someone whose journey you can identify with. Hearing their business story (which is always part of a bigger personal story) can guide you to listen to your own heart and find the courage to act.

We’ve all had a good go at conversations online. But the best ones still happen when we’re face-to-face. We develop trust by sharing space together. Those conversations open up possibilities. I’ve also seen them open doors and encourage others to step through. I want to open doors from all over Australia.

So I bought a van.

Thanks to the winnings from the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award and a bit of clever handiwork, I now have a mobile podcast studio. We have somewhere to talk.

The scheduled podcasts always worked face to face. When I hit the road for events, I’d set up in a corner of the public venue and try to interview attendees. When it got to the nitty gritty, there were barriers to a real conversation – no quiet, private space indoors and only loud and temperamental weather outside. I felt deflated at these missed opportunities. That’s when I started looking into ways that I could overcome these barriers and deliver a professional recording experience at any venue. What I've ended up doing with the van is more than I could have imagined.

I’ve put the van through its paces at field days in NSW and Victoria, and have rocked up to local Bendigo homes and businesses to record. It draws a few curious looks and is certainly a great conversation starter. 

At times you hear our surroundings whether that’s nature, machinery or a PA system. This just builds on the story and hopefully makes you feel like you're sitting in the van with us. But inside that cosy van, on the couch, we’re having a big, heartfelt and insightful conversation.

As an experienced journalist – from year 10 work experience student to a sub editor and reporter at The Bendigo Advertiser – I’ve always loved connecting to draw out an often untold story. Sometimes I will have met the person five minutes before interviewing them but they feel comfortable to trust me with their story. 

I’ve had a number of women finish an interview and comment that they don’t know where that story share came from. I think the van is set up in a way that people forget they are being recorded. They just relax and start talking as if they were with a close and trusted friend.

And when you listen to those conversations, that friendship grows into a community. 


Mobile podcasting brings your events to life. If you have an event, conference, open day or would like OAK to visit your town, get in touch to discuss partnership/sponsorship options.

A unique activation for your next event with podcast episodes available the following day.


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