Comedians Marc Maron, Aisha Tyler, Doug Benson, Greg Proops and Paul F. Tompkins — and film critic Leonard Maltin — will be hanging out at the fourth annual Los Angeles Podcast Festival this weekend.
Amid panels, parties, surprise guests and an art show, the creators of some four dozen podcasts are slated to tape episodes. But those big-name hosts aren’t the only ones responsible for the event’s ever-increasing relevance. The DIY originators, producers, entrepreneurs and network operators who will be on hand this weekend are also responsible for cultivating the medium's rapidly evolving landscape.
Here are 10 attendees you might want to seek out:
Graham Elwood and Chris Mancini, cohosts of Comedy Film Nerds, screen their new film Earbuds: The Podcasting Documentary on Friday and Sunday. Probably Science cohost Andy Wood is a force behind Portland’s Bridgetown Comedy Festival, while Walking the Room’s Dave Anthony is a regular on IFC’s Maron (and an L.A. Weekly Comedy Act to Watch). Together the four cofounded L.A. Podfest in 2012.
With The Thrilling Adventure Hour, Ben Blacker helped reimagine, expand and evolve the scope of digital audio content. The staged vintage-radio production began in 2005 as an M Bar live show featuring Paul F. Tompkins and James Urbaniak and began podcasting from Largo as part of the Nerdist Network in 2011 — then spawned a graphic novel, comics books and a 2015 documentary film. Blacker is also a TV scribe, a composer and the creator of the Nerdist Writers Panel podcast, which he'll host Saturday afternoon.
Designer, author of four books and connector of all things online, Josh Clark thrives on interactivity. On paper, his agency Big Medium helps massive companies build better websites and apps. But as screens shrink and cloud reliance expands, he envisions user-friendliness informing household objects outside of computers and handhelds. Particularly in a technology as new as podcasting, he emphasizes that methods of data exchange are anything but static.
Corporate responsibilities and commitment to passion projects don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Like the juxtaposition of high and low culture, balance is key. Maris Kreizman has worked at lit agencies, publishing houses and as editorial director of digital content at B&N. Last year she became publishing outreach manager at crowdfunding mainstay Kickstarter. Her serious-literature-meets-“trivial”-TV Tumblr blog, Slaughterhouse 90210, meanwhile, has evolved over the past seven years into a pop-culture touchstone, and a Flatiron Books release about the project is due out October 6.
As a producer at Sideshow Network, Shawn Marek encourages the discovery of new podcasts, develops untested shows, educates celebrities (from Gilbert Gottfried to Jillian Michaels) on what the medium can offer, and coordinates hosts and guests at the company’s Culver City studio. He also oversees the uploading of content from server to web site to iTunes. Thursday evening, the Worst Collection Ever cohost spearheads a bonus Podfest preview at the Hollywood Improv, where Sideshow will be joined by the Feral Audio, Nerdist and Earwolf networks to deliver four additional shows for weekend Podfest badge-holders.
Journalist, author, producer, multi-show podcaster and all-around authority Tom Merritt uses technological advancements to discuss technological advancements. (In other words, his personal branding's off the charts.) Whether content is ultimately king or the medium is the message, Merritt has systematized the concept of transforming a pet interest into a career. He hosts Podfest's “Crowdfunding” panel Saturday at noon.
Anyone familiar with podcasting’s rapid growth has learned the basics from Rob Walch. The podCast411 host is vice president of Podcaster Relations for Libsyn, a network hosting more than 10,000 shows. His 2006 book, Tricks of the Podcasting Masters, remains the industry bible, covering info from initial conception to monetization and beyond. Sunday afternoon he offers insight into what podcast stats really mean — and how they can be improved.
Friday through Sunday at Sofitel Beverly Hills, 8555 Beverly Blvd., Beverly Hills. Passes range from $29 to $119; home viewers can opt for a $25 live stream.