The L.A. Podcast Festival is returning for its sixth year with more podcasters and new ways to get the community buzzing. From Oct. 6-8, the festival will feature 40 live podcasts with industry favorites like WTF with Marc Maron, Cashing In with TJ Miller and Cash Levy along with this year’s breakout podcast My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. The festival will have opening and closing night parties, improv sets, “mash-up” podcasts, and a variety of panels.
Podcasters and fans will be able to watch their favorite comedians and personalities at the festival’s new location, the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Once the home of the Academy Awards and chalk full of ghost stories, the Biltmore seemed an ideal location for organizers looking to bring together fans, comedians and professional podcasters for the first time.
“We wanted a space that was a little more unique. While podcasts are becoming more mainstream, they are still pretty unique,” said co-founder of the LA Podcast Fest, Dave Anthony, who also co-hosts The Dollop.
This year, organizers are introducing the Podcast Pros segment of the festival, which will include various panels throughout the three days to provide insight on making a name in the podcast industry. Panels will range from finding unique content to engage audiences to partnering with other media formats or sponsors to further your show’s reach.
“We’ve discovered how many people want to do podcasts or are interested in expanding their podcast and audience. So we’re starting this Podcast Pro segment which will bring together the fans and the industry,” Anthony told Amplify. “Because a lot of people have that interest, we think that it will help to get everyone together.”
Panelists will include Norm Pattiz, Founder & Executive Chairman of Podcast One; Allyson Marino, Podcast Monetization Specialist; Taylor Moore, Head of Comedy at Kickstarter; and Josh Lindgren, Agent at The Billions Corporation. Each panel will feature executives involved in the expanding industry along with producers and, most importantly, comedians.
“We’ve always had panels on how to do content and stuff like that, but there are a lot of people asking about the business side of things,” said Anthony. “Rather than a regular old technical panel we are going to have comedians hosting it. So hopefully it will be entertaining at the same time.”
Podcasts saw a dramatic spike in popularity after Serial hit mainstream success. An episode of podcast Reply All titled “Man of the People,” was recently picked up by Robert Downey Jr and Annapurna Pictures for a film adaptation directed by Richard Linklater.
The medium has also had hits with S-Town, Missing Richard Simmons, and Pod Save America. The increase in interest for political podcasts like Pod Save America have increased since the most recent presidential election and permeated even the typically comedic LA Podcast Fest. The theme of this year’s festival is Truth, Laughs, and Lies.
“Trump is hanging over everything,” explained Anthony, adding that the administration’s stance on net neutrality is a concern facing all podcasters. Net neutrality is “kind of an issue that can get buried, but if we can bring attention to it that would be important to let people know what net neutrality means to our ability to speak and the small guy to get his voice out there.”
Anthony added “The interesting thing about podcasting is there are no gatekeepers like there always has been in entertainment. There has always been that baseline of truth in podcasting and people hearing about what is happening behind the scenes. That’s going to permeate everything, all entertainment.”
In addition, producers of the festival that was started by three podcasters want to connect and give back to the community. Like previous years, the festival will include a lab where up and coming podcasters can bring their own equipment to record episodes on site at the Biltmore. Special guests from the lineup will head to the Lab to make the rounds and speak to other podcasters. Marc Maron and TJ Miller have previously participated and Anthony explained, “I think all the podcasters feel it is a good way to give back to the community.”
Podcast beginners can also apply for scholarships to the festival and conference by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org about their project and why they are interested in attending.