(By Fletcher Brown) Sunday, Day Three of PodX, was the first day I slept in past 7 a.m. The third day of any conference is always a push. The best ones end on day three, and most in attendance are ready to pick up their toys and head home. This weekend was different somehow, so I went in to the last day looking for the soul of this industry. Each day had a variety of panels from money to mechanics, fun games to live shows, but each day also displayed the social consciousness of the podcast industry. I had seen panels on the topics of sexuality in the industry, and yes, politics. Today I sat in on two.
“A Friend Called Podcast: How Podcasting and Mental Health intersect” was a panel of five very popular podcasters discussing those things we rarely talk about. Our history of mental health, and the coping mechanisms we use in our daily lives. Lead by Steven Pappas of the mental health podcast “Is This Adulting,” the panelists each laid themselves bare before a room of strangers, in a manner similar to their shows. The people in that room were people who struggle with their mental and emotional well-being, and these panelists told us it is okay to explore yourself through what you create, but most importantly to remember that podcasters are a very supportive and protective community.
My last stop was early in the day. “Podcasters of Color: The Importance of Diversity in Content and Creation.” I confess this panel was the most personal to me as an aspiring podcaster and a person of color. As heavy as the topic seems to be, the conversation was always very light and never antagonistic. The message was simply of inclusion in content. Stepping outside your own bubble and acknowledging someone else’s story, even while celebrating your own. The community as a whole is not always perfect, and people do get left out of the conversation, but new conversations are being had all the time.
My Takeaways From PodX
I confess I took the fewest notes on the third day, opting instead to just listen. I walked through the marketplace and bought a t-shirt that reads “Podcasters Untie” and features a picture of tangle earbuds. I also bought a 32oz. PodX “Podcast Junkie” water bottle. They were on sale. The marketplace only had about eight vendors, including the event merch table, but they were very well received by attendees. The final attendance number was approximately 1500, which the planners expected. Anyone who missed a panel should be able to purchase selected audio for download at podx.com within a few days. I doubt anyone had to leave empty-handed. We got what we came for. Ideas, guidelines, and advice. Plan ahead, manage expectations, don’t spend all your money at first thinking you will make it back right away. Listen to your audience and your peers. Take care of yourself, and be excited about your topics. It was all about what I expected.
The thing that stayed with me the most was the vibe of the event. I am no stranger to industry and hobby conventions, pro and fan tracks, but this just felt different. The best moments were at the very end. As I sat collecting my thoughts and writing, I was approached by several panelists. Rob Greenlee of Libsyn, Steven Ray Morris of The Purrrcast, Steven Pappas and Chris Grimmett of Is This Adulting, celebrities in their own right, stopped just to speak, say thank you for attending, and swap a few stories. Not just with me, but several fans who stayed for the last panels. Chris mentioned his favorite thing was that not only do the panelists get to meet their fans, but they themselves are often fans of the other panelists. They listen to one another and support each other’s efforts. Rob Greenlee and I spent time talking about how my industry, broadcast radio, can bridge the gap to podcasting and evolve. I probably learned more about what I want to do and how to do it in those last few hours because podcasting is not just a community, it is one that throws open its doors and greets new faces with a “welcome, friend.” I would be surprised if most of the attendees, pro or fan, didn’t leave feeling they’d made a lot of new friends.
I wonder if they will let me pre-order my passes for next year’s PodX?