25 Aug 2018

Unearthing hidden histories: The Kitchen Sisters

From The Podcast Hour, 12:30 pm on 25 August 2018
Kitchen Sisters Logo (Supplied)

Kitchen Sisters Logo (Supplied) Photo: Supplied

The audio producing duo The Kitchen Sisters started working together on a live local radio show in California back in the late 1970s.

Since then Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson have made about 500 audio documentaries together, covering topics from space food to Spanish shepherds, from kimchi to the recording of Prince's album 'Purple Rain'.

Their work's appeared all over the world, including on the US public broadcasting service NPR, the BBC, the ABC in Australia,  RNZ, and more recently on the Radiotopia podcasting network.

And over the decades they've refined their distinctive style; it's audio rich, full of found sounds, voicemail messages, and music, it's mainly recorded in the field, not in the studio, and there's not that much of them in their stories.

We play a selection of The Kitchen Sisters' work, including Operation Hummus which tells the story of the cultural and political battle over the origins of a simple chickpea dish. Also Chicken Pills, which highlights some potentially dangerous beauty practices in Jamaica, and how some people will stop at nothing in the quest for a perfect body.

And we speak to The Kitchen Sisters' Davia Nelson about how they find their stories, the emergence of their signature storytelling style, and how podcasting is changing the way they connect with a new generation of listeners.