WNYC Studios’ Werk It podcast festival is holding its third annual event in Los Angeles as the demand for women’s voices in the podcast industry grows.
After two years in New York, Werk It will be held Oct. 3-5 at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles. The three-day women’s podcast festival was originally funded by the Corporation of Public Broadcasting. In the CPB’s grant requirements the festival was required to move cities to encourage inclusivity and make the event accessible to more people.
“LA appealed to us because we wanted a place that had plenty of flights to it, so you didn’t have to be from there and it is a place that already has a sizable podcast community,” WNYC Studios VP of On-Demand Content, Paula Szuchman told Amplify. “We’re excited to tap into the entertainment world over there. We’re able to bring in people from different media.”
In its first two years, Werk It was held in a 100-cap venue and invitation or application only. With over 700 applicants last year, the festival decided to partner with the 1,600-seat Theatre at the Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles to expand its capacity and audience. A total of 50 scholarships were also awarded to applicants for this year’s festival.
Werk It will now feature a full day dedicated to hands-on podcasting instruction. Day one will kick off with the Podcast Bootcamp where festivalgoers will attend practical sessions on the fundamentals of making audio, building your audience, pitching your podcast and finding your voice.
Szuchman said of the Talk With Your Voice session, “It is more about leaning in to the voice, your own voice and thinking about how you present yourself on the mic. One of our missions is to bring parity to podcasting. We look back at that great Julie Shapiro article from 2013 on how small the percentage of podcasts hosted by women was on the iTunes charts. We really want to get more women’s voices into the fray.”
In 2013, the article put a spotlight on the disparity of female host or co-hosted podcasts on the iTunes charts and on other rankings. According to Szuchman, as of 2017 the percentage of female host or co-hosts has risen to roughly 33 percent on the iTunes top podcast chart.
“I think a lot of people feel that our voices are more important at this moment in time when our country is divided and some people’s rights are under threat,” Szuchman said. “But it’s not only important for hosts to be women. It’s important to be part of the industry from the production standpoint, engineering and up to the CEO standpoint. The mission is to empower and amplify voices and points of view and stories and experiences. That might take the form of the host, the reporter, the producer, the engineer, the audience development or any place that touches the podcasting scene.”
Other panels throughout the following days include lessons learned by first-time podcasters, how to manage the creative process and how to get the most out of creative people and a creative environment. They have sessions about how to make a successful podcast from a business perspective and how to make ads as good as content. An important aspect of Werk It is about creating interesting content without losing site of the business realities.
In addition to purchasing individual tickets for the Podcast Bootcamp or day two and three of Werk It, festivalgoers and non-festivalgoers can purchase separate tickets for three unique live tapings. Oct. 3’s live recording will be Buzzfeed’s “Another Round” with guests Amber Rose, Quinta Brunson. Victor Pope Jr. Day two’s podcast will be Anna Sale’s “Death, Sex, & Money” with special guest Niecy Nash and day three will be Jessica Williams hosting her podcast “2 Dope Queens” with special co-host Naomi Ekperigin.
“We wanted podcasts that would reflect the diversity both in terms of the people and the format,” Szuchman explained. “‘2 Dope Queens’ is a perennial favorite. ‘Another Round’ did their first live show with us at the first Werk It two years ago. Since then they have blown up and they have done a lot of touring shows. Anna Sale that does ‘Death, Sex, & Money’ is now based in the San Francisco area and she is in many ways WNYC’s West Coast podcasting representative. All three are such different shows. One is a chat show, one is a comedy show, and one is a deep, emotional, intimate interview show.”
To maintain the intimacy of the previous years, only the live tapings will utilize the entirety of the large theater. The panels and discussions will remain in smaller groups with breakout sessions and opportunities for mentoring and networking.
For more information on Werk It tickets and schedules, check out the festival site. Registration options include the All Access Pass ($550), Festival Pass ($499), Werk It Pass ($350), or the Podcast Bootcamp Pass ($200).
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