Each episode focuses on a specific turning point in a different city’s history.
The one-off six-part series features expert interviews and immersive sound design, with a single track becoming the listener’s guide to revealing the deeper social and political issues at the epicentre of each point in time.
The first episode, which launched today, tells the story of how an unknown musician in England became an overnight pop star in Hong Kong. Chris hears how singer-songwriter Kashy Keegan was flown out to perform in front of tens of thousands of fans after one of his songs suddenly became a huge hit — only to discover that it was also seen as the emotional anthem of Hong Kong's nascent pro-democracy movement.
Future episodes, releasing weekly every Wednesday, look at how the US military tactically deployed American rock music during a siege against Panama’s dictator Manuel Noriega in the 1980s; why a song by musician Ramy Essam resonated with the crowd in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to become a revolutionary symbol of the Arab Spring; and how desperate citizens during the siege of Leningrad rallied under an unlikely anthem — Shostakovich's Seventh. The series also looks at the importance of bhangra music to South Asians living in Birmingham during the 1980s and the politicised rock movement in Prague in the years leading up to the 1989 Velvet Revolution.
Chris Michael, creator and host of Reverberate, said: “A lot of stories have been told about music scenes in cities – but very few about the moments when music itself shaped history. I wanted to share some of the most jaw-dropping, sometimes unsettling but always fascinating stories I discovered in my time as editor of Guardian Cities about key turning points in a city's history, by hearing first-hand from the people who were really there. In doing so, I hope we have revealed the real power of music: not just a soundtrack, but a driver of change in its own right."
Christian Bennett, executive editor for multimedia journalism, Guardian News & Media, said: “The Guardian is committed to insightful, global storytelling and has always approached audio journalism in new and interesting ways. Reverberate exists at the intersection of history, culture and politics, revealing more about the world we live in today by looking back at a defining moment in society and the music that shaped it. We are excited to add Reverberate to our podcast slate and share these fascinating stories from across the world with the Guardian’s growing and dedicated podcast audience.”
The Guardian has been creating podcasts for over a decade, with the combined podcast network enjoying millions of listens every month. Over the past year, the Guardian's podcast listens have increased by over 66%, say the publishers.
Earlier this week, the Guardian also unveiled new artwork for some of its regular podcasts, showcasing a colourful, cohesive and refreshed design; from flagship daily news podcast Today in Focus to Football Weekly.
New episodes of Reverberate will be released weekly every Wednesday.
Reverberate is created and presented by Chris Michael, with studio production by Danielle Stephens, Iain Chambers, Esther Opoku-Gyeni and Rose de Larrabeiti. The executive producer is Peter Sale. Sound design and original music is by Pascal Wyse, music rights clearance from Tony Orchudesch and development by Shanida Scotland and Katherine Godfrey. The series is overseen by Christian Bennett, the Guardian’s executive editor for multimedia journalism.
Keep up-to-date with publishing news: sign up here for InPubWeekly, our free weekly e-newsletter.