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Podcasting News: LA Podfest Schedule; a Decade of Podcast History

In this week’s podcasting news: Ars Technica on a decade of podcasting; LA Podfest schedule; Philadelphia Podfest; Public radio producer on the advantages of podcasting.

The Ten Year History of Podcasting

Because I dedicated last week’s Podcast Survivor to the dismissal of the podcast patent troll suit, I failed to mention a recent Ars Technica article recounting the decade-long history of podcasting. Writer Cyrus Farivar focuses quite a bit on the medium’s formative years. He talked with former MTV VJ Adam Curry who played a key role in encouraging developer Dave Winer to add file enclosures to his RSS feed standard, permitting MP3 files to be automatically downloaded as soon as they are published, instead of a user having to manually check for updates.

Farivar does a nice job of telling the story, showing how the technology behind podcasting and the first podcasts actually predated the emergence of the term by a number of years. Even if today it’s hard to find any podcaster who actually likes the term.

Los Angeles Podcast Festival

The schedule for this year’s Los Angeles Podcast Festival is out. It’s happening September 26-28 at the Sofitel Hotel in Beverly Hills. Like the previous two fests, the podcasters in attendance this year weigh heavily towards comedy, which is to be expected since L.A. is the de facto comedy podcast capital.

Popular shows like WTF, Girl on Guy and Mohr Stories will be there recording live episodes, while the Squarespace Podcast Lab is available for any podcaster in attendance to use for recording. There is also a “Standup Podsmash” comedy show on Saturday night.

A number of panels and workshops are aimed at current and aspiring podcasters, like one focused on making money in podcasting. I will be attending and will participate in a Sunday panel on getting started in podcasting. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll note that my employer is a sponsor of the festival.

Philadelphia Podfest

Speaking of podcast festivals, last weekend was the 2nd annual Philadelphia Podfest. While Philly isn’t yet a nationally known podcast town like Los Angeles–and really, what other city is?–the City of Brotherly Love is home to enough shows to have filled five nights of live podcasting.

Festival co-founders Teagan Keating and Nathan Kuruna told Philly.com that the event’s goals are, “to give podcasters a chance to perform live; to get out the word, in a podcast world dominated by New York and Los Angeles, that Philly produces really great stuff; and to connect podcasters with their listeners.”

I’m just sorry that I didn’t learn about the fest until it was over. If you’re a podcast fan in the Philadelphia area it looks like something worth looking out for next year.

Death, Sex and Money Producer on the Advantages of Podcasting

Capital New York published an interview with Anna Sale, producer of the New York Public Radio podcast Death, Sex and Money, which debuted this past May. Media reporter Nicole Levy asked Sale to compare the pros and cons of podcasting versus producing a broadcast program.

Sale said that one advantage is that,

“You don’t have to warn listeners about upcoming edgy or uncomfortable content the way you do on the radio. The other great advantage of podcasting is the shows can be as long as they need to be. Their length isn’t determined by a broadcast clock but rather by how much space a conversation needs, and that’s been really creatively liberating.”

It is interesting that the lack of content restrictions in podcasting would also be a boon for edgier public radio content, especially considering the service’s otherwise not-entirely-justifiable reputation for being staid. Shows like The Moth and This American Life certainly tackle mature topics with enough savvy to keep most program directors out of hot water. But podcasts offer producers a chance to deal with challenging ideas and stories without stirring up the ire of sensitive listeners or risking indecency fines.
Of course, that sort just begs the question about how relevant indecency regulations are, when even public radio producers are interested in skirting them via podcasting. But that, however, is a topic for another day.


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