“I felt so overwhelmed at the beginning of the pandemic,” says Taylor. “As a health reporter, but as a person as well. How do I take care of my kids? What am I meant to do? Do I go to work? There was so much uncertainty in the beginning”
Swan says the pair faced some controversy in those early days, including “the government calling up the ABC telling us to modify what we do, because we were too far out in front of them” but the pair kept reporting, and “the federal government got its act together and really started following the lead of the premiers”.
A theme of Coronacast has been the importance of clear messaging, as so much of the response has fallen on individual Australians to practise hand hygiene and social distancing. I asked Swan to name the politician he believed had the clearest messaging.
“The easy answer is Dan Andrews, because he’s been out there giving the tough messages,” says Swan. “But I would rate all of the state premiers equally. I think they’ve all done an amazing job and stepped to the fore.
“I think it would be unfair to pick out one or the other because if you live in Queensland, or Western Australia, or wherever, regardless of who you voted for, I think most people would agree that the state premiers have done an amazing job.
“They’ve done what the textbook said they should have done. They’ve stood up, they’ve told the truth. They’ve not created panic. And the community has learnt to trust them.”
The remarkable thing about Coronacast is its upbeat, often playful tone, which the pair credit to Australia’s “excellent” and “enviable” response to the crisis, and to producer Will Ockenden.
“This wouldn’t have happened without Will Ockenden. He understands how to make podcasts; the technical, content and structural aspects of it. He just has extraordinary skills and knowledge” says Swan.
Taylor is quick to agree. “One of the things that people say to me all the time about the podcast is the tone. How much they love the tone and the back and forth. And Will has been the one that has set the tone for this thing from the very beginning.”
Coronacast is available in the ABC app and all good podcasting platforms.