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Fran Kelly and Patricia Karvelas step outside the Canberra bubble

“At the start, we knew each other a bit, but we were not best mates. It’s not a ‘mates podcast’,” says Patricia Karvelas of her pairing with Kelly. “But we just had this instant chemistry. Three years down the road, we’ve gotten to know each other really well and I think that’s made the podcast stronger, because we do care about each other. Fran checks in on me when my kids are sick, and I check in on her. You can hear that in the way we talk to each other, and I think the listeners really like that too, because they can hear that there is something special about the relationship.”

Karvelas says the audience of The Party Room is “a pretty diverse bunch”, but overall the show skews “younger and female”, when compared to her Radio National audience. This was made clear during a recent live show in Canberra.

“We just couldn’t believe the amount of women in their twenties in the audience. These are women who are seen as not interested in politics, and often dismissed as ‘they’ve got other interests, maybe they’re just on Instagram’. Well it’s just not true. They are interested in the world around them. Maybe journalism is just getting better at meeting people where they want to be met.”

Karvelas laughs while admitting she’s approaching her 10-year anniversary on Twitter. I asked how she stays involved in a community that is at times so toxic and misogynistic, but again, she is determined to meet her audience wherever they want to be met.

“Sometimes it wears you down. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t be human. But I have to keep reminding [myself] that the vast majority of people on Twitter are not like that. They do engage respectfully. And if you retreat… I think it’s bad for the good people. I’m an ABC presenter, we’re a taxpayer-funded organisation, they should have access to me, they should be able to engage or critique.”

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