Podcast Movement conference expands as podcasting matures

Podcast Movement, the podcast creator conference in its 4th year, is unfurling an ever increasing wing span in Anaheim this week. Unlike last year’s event in Chicago, this year’s installation in a coastal locale and larger venue seems to reflect the growth and maturation of podcasting.

In more than one conversation we heard the opinion that this year’s swarm of podcasters represents a more professional level than years past. Wherever the truth lies in that regard, the conference is undeniably more expansive in the spacious venue of Marriott Anaheim, featuring an exhibition space that seems ten times larger than last year’s Chicago staging, and an agenda packing 11 content tracks into two days of programming that forces attendees to make difficult choices. Over 150 speakers came deliver information mostly geared to the creative aspect of podcasting, from equipment and technology to program conception and performance technique.

One highlight of the first full day was an unusual pairing of Larry Rosin and Tom Webster, president and VP of Edison Research, for Share of Speech: Podcasting’s Place in the World of Spoken-Word Audio. On the big stage in the keynote room, the two combined for a presentation of how podcasting fits into the spoken-word universe. Highly produced videos of podcast listeners kept a packed crowd engaged throughout and cheering at the end.

That presentation was followed by a keynote interview of Dan Carlin, host of Hardcore History, with Andrew Warner, startup entrepreneur and creator of the Mixergy podcast.

The main substance of Podcast Movement is the programming of sessions geared to progressing amateur podcasters to semi-pro and professional hosts and producers. Panels like If Jesus Had a Podcast rub elbows with How to Turn Your Love of Podcasting Into a Living. Some sessions, such as How to Select an Ad Sales Partner, seemed to overshoot the audience. Others, such as a workshop on developing a podcast conception led by PRX CEO Kerri Hoffman, engaged and enthralled audience with challenging exercises and revealing critiques.

At the midpoint of Podcast Movement 2017, there is less giddiness than in 2016, and a greater sense of nose-to-the-grindstone determination and learning. As the opportunities grow, in an increasingly crowded, competitive, but no less hopeful creative crowd, podcasting is becoming serious business at all levels.

Brad Hill