Sound Motives Studio

In October 2017 I went freelance and have worked across radio, podcast and voice projects for publishers, brands and broadcasters including The Guardian, Google, The Telegraph, EY and WeTransfer.

With over 10 years of experience producing audio projects of various kinds, I began in BBC radio before transitioning into podcast and most recently, voice.

Within the news journalism/business space, I was editorial lead on the Guardian’s Google-funded Voice Lab project exploring ‘interactive audio for the Google Assistant, bringing Guardian storytelling to a new platform’. I’ve also produced podcast series for The Telegraph and EY. The Telegraph’s Technology Intelligence podcast explores the future of technology, and The Better Question ‘answers the better questions that will help CEOs lead their business through this Transformative Age’.

I’m fascinated by technology’s role in shaping the future of audio both in news/journalism and beyond, and am drawn to projects and organisations that are attempting to reveal what that future might be.


Hi, I’m Dave O’Donnell. I’m a London-based audio-focused producer/executive producer.

I began my career in radio, working at independent production company Somethin’ Else in 2008. With much of my time spent producing radio shows across various BBC networks, I took time away from the radio department in 2011 to gain my first experience in combining audio with technological innovation. Working in the digital department, I produced the Cannes Lion winning The Nightjar binaural iPhone game with Wrigley’s.

I left Somethin’ Else in 2013 to launch a new production company, Mistral Productions, with Gilles Peterson and Simon Goffe, producing work for British Airways, New Zealand Air, Polydor, Rockstar Games and Universal. In 2015, with support from WeTransfer, we began developing a new online radio platform, Worldwide FM, and in September 2016, we launched the station, broadcasting 24 hours a day, with 40 hours of original radio programming every week.

Throughout year 1, Worldwide FM experimented with form, using live-streamed video to maximize online social reach, whilst getting out of the studio to broadcast live out in the real world. The station’s audio and video output was designed to maximise growth and engagement, and we continued to refine the station’s offering using audience data to ensure we focused our time and energy on content that resonates with our audience’s interests and daily habits.

In 2017, following rapid growth and successful content partnerships with Ace Hotels and Lufthansa, Worldwide FM won the industry-leading Radio Academy’s ARIAS Online Radio Station of the Year Award.

In October 2017, I decided to explore new challenges and opportunities within a freelance capacity, and since then I’ve worked with the Guardian, Google, The Telegraph, EY and more.

Below are a selection of recent Sound Motives Studio projects, as well as some personal inspirations.

For a complete archive, head over to the blog.

The Economist – The Intelligence Podcast Production

I'm currently freelancing at The Economist, helping the team who make the daily flagship podcast, The Intelligence with podcast production. It's fascinating to see how the team work together with their journalists from around the globe, to make a 20+ minute podcast...

The Guardian – Politics Weekly

Off the back of the Guardian Voice Lab project, as well as doing some development work on a forthcoming series due in the autumn, I had the opportunity to produce Politics Weekly for the month of May. Here are a couple of highlight episodes for me, from the four-week...

The Voice Lab – Guardian Briefing

We launched our second project at The Guardian Voice Lab this week! It's a flash briefing that combined human and synthetic voice, which was a lot of fun work on. Working with SSML was a new experience for me, and although working in code was daunting initially, it's...

The Guardian Voice Lab – Articles

One of our responsibilities on The Voice Lab has been to write weekly blog posts about our progress. As Editorial Lead within the team, my posts have approached the meeting point that exists in voice between software developers and editorial/content creators, from the...

The Guardian Voice Lab – Year In Review

As previously discussed in an early blog post, in late October I began a 6 month contract at The Guardian's Voice Lab, fulfilling the role of editorial lead/audio producer within a 4-person software-focused team (alongside a product lead, a programmer and an UX...

The Guardian Voice Lab

At the end of October I was offered a role working on a new initiative from The Guardian developing audio content for Google's Home smart speaker and Google Assistant. Guardian News & Media is pleased to announce the launch of Guardian Voice Lab - an in-house team...

EY’s The Better Question Podcast

Back in August I started freelancing with the gang over at Atomized Studios (part of Freuds PR). They'd begun producing a podcast series for EY entitled The Better Question, which looks to 'answer the better questions that will help CEOs and other senior executives...

Strrr TV – Matthew Plummer Fernandez

In his Strrr episode, Matthew explores the role that algorithms play in everyday life and culture. From their beginnings in the simple animations of the 1970s and 80s, through to the cutting edge neural networks and artificial intelligence of today, Matthew reveals the various ways in which algorithms are playing an increasing central role in our lives.

Technology Intelligence Podcast Series One Review

From February through to the end of May, I produced a six-part podcast series for The Telegraph newspaper, as part of their Technology Intelligence initiative. Working with journalist Harry De Quetteville as host, the series explores the future...

Strrr TV – Nelly Ben Hayoun

I first met Nelly back in 2016 whilst Worldwide FM was broadcasting from LA, for WeTransfer's 'How We Do LA' event. The day I was due to fly home to London, I spent a fun couple hours wandering around The Museum of Contemporary Art with her and...

If you'd like to contact Sound Motives Studio, drop us a line and we'll get right back to you.

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Alongside my freelance work, I develop my own personal projects, including the Sound Motives podcast.