At last year's inaugural Los Angeles Podcast Festival, some fans and amateur podcasters brought their own equipment and started recording.
Yep, podcast fans were podcasting live from a festival dedicated to podcasts.
"You'd see them sitting at tables in the cafe or downstairs on the couches and they would be podcasting with each other," says festival co-founder Dave Anthony.
Now the second installment of the event runs Oct. 4 through Oct. 6 at Le Meridien Delfina Santa Monica Hotel.
Anthony and Greg Behrendt co-host the popular podcast Walking the Room, in which the duo discuss whatever they find interesting, which is more or less what most podcasts are. A couple of years back, Anthony and Behrendt did a live show that was so successful it got Anthony thinking: How about a live podcast festival?
"There are other fans out there," Anthony says. "They seem to be listening to the same podcasts. They don't get into one podcast. They get into a bunch of podcasts. So I thought it would be a good idea to start a festival and get all the podcasts together."
Anthony teamed with fellow festival founders Graham Elwood and Chris Mancini of Comedy Film Nerds, and Andy Wood, who runs the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland.
Last year's festival boasted 25 podcasts and more than 700 paid attendees. This year features approximately 40 podcasts, with plenty of star power. Podcasters scheduled to appear include Doug Benson, Jon Lovitz, Marc Maron, Kevin Pollak and Alison Rosen. Scheduled guests include comedian Brian Posehn and Andy Richter.
New this year at the festival is a Podcast Lab where podcasters of any experience level can set up remote broadcasts from the event. "The fans are kind of crazy there," Anthony says. "They're like the ultimate podcast fans."
The L.A. Podcast Festival doesn't have a specific mission. Anthony says the event is a way for podcasters to gain exposure and for fans to connect. Podcasters aren't charged to participate like at other comedy festivals.
Currently, the L.A. Podcast Festival is exclusively comedy-oriented because the genre lends itself well to live events, but Anthony says that the plan in future years is to expand the festival to include other topics.
"People are finding stuff they don't find anywhere else," Anthony says of podcasts, which emerged about a decade ago, with the rise of mobile music players. "It's a niche audience for most podcasts."
Anthony says that focused topics and compelling hosts are key to a successful podcast. He listens to podcasts by newsman Bill Moyers, British comedian Richard Herring, and WTF With Marc Maron (Anthony also writes for Maron's self-titled program on IFC).
"I don't think it's peaking at all," Anthony says of the genre. "I think it's just going to keep growing. I haven't seen any leveling off whatsoever."
The Los Angeles Podcast Festival runs from Oct. 4 to Oct. 6 at Le Meridien Delfina Santa Monica Hotel. Friday tickets are $29, Saturday $59 and Sunday $49, or get a weekend pass for $99. For more details, visit lapodfest.com.
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