The word podcast is 10 years old. A podcast is a (semi-)regular audio show, in episodes lasting, usually, between 15 minutes and an hour. It's often very DIY: Hosts record episodes digitally and post them online; you can download them to your device or listen on a central website.
This week through Sunday, the second annual Philadelphia PodFest has been holding forth at Tattooed Mom, a bar at 530 South St. Nineteen podcasters are on hand to mingle and do live episodes.
Stars include Nicole Yates of the food podcast Didja Eat?; Timaree Schmit of Sex With Timaree; DeAnn Cox and Kati "Jazzi" Gray-Sadler of LesBe Real Talk Radio; and Len Webb, Kennedy Allen, Jason Richardson, Randy Green, and Eric Darden, of The Black Tribbles. It's a convention, a hangout, and a showcase for Philly's prime podcasters. All shows are live-streamed at phillypodfest.com. If you've never listened to a podcast, it's a good way to start.
Teagan Keating and Nathan Kuruna are cofounders of PodFest. Keating, host of the public-health podcast Action Phase, said the festival'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."
Episodes can be recorded anywhere. "I've been on podcasts people have recorded down in their grandmother's basement," said Sex With Timaree's Schmit, with a laugh. Richardson of The Black Tribbles records at his apartment in South Philadelphia, home of J1 Studios. Yates records Didja Eat? at the house of her cohost, Vicki Long ("It's just me, Vicki, and the dog"). LesBe Real is recorded at G-Town Radio in the Maplewood Mall. And many episodes are recorded live in small clubs.
There's no central list or phone book. The iTunes Store is an excellent resource, but its lists are far from complete. "It's much like the world of self-published books," Keating said. "There's no way to keep track of them. Word of mouth is the best way to find out. But that's the beauty of independent media: Everybody's free to make what they want. The festival celebrates that."
PodFest illustrates what Keating calls "Philly's incredible diversity." Cox describes LesBe Real as a forum for "under-discussed questions for under-discussed communities," including lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, and identity-questioning, or LGTBQ. (It's also a radio show on G-Town Radio, every second and fourth Thursday at 7 p.m.)
The Black Tribbles is an African American geek/gaming/animé/superheroes roundtable, each participant taking a name based on his/her obsessions, such as Bat Tribble (Webb), Spider-Tribble (Richardson), or Super Tribble (Green). They're on radio, too, at 9 a.m. on Sundays on WURD-AM (900) and Thursdays at 9 p.m. on G-Town Radio.
Didja Eat? grew out of Yates' food blog of that name. "Everybody's got to eat," she said. She often has guests such as Dan Scully and Garrett Smith of the I Like to Movie Movie podcast, talking about food in movies, or Rachel Klein of Miss Rachel's Pantry catering. "And sometimes, my cohost and I just argue for an hour about ketchup."
Yates, who does standup, said, "So many podcasters come from the standup/improv world." Schmit noted that comics and performance artists "see a podcast as a business card to the world without the drama of making a video."
Schmit is both a Ph.D. in human sexuality education (from Widener University) and part of the Darryl and Timaree Fun Hour, often seen at Philly Improv Theater. "I started the podcast," she said, "because I have a great passion for sexuality issues in terms of human freedom. Having access to this information is a human-rights issue. But I had no idea there was such an audience for it."
"Everybody in Philly has something they want to talk about," Keating said. "I hope we can capture that feeling at PodFest."