Podcast conference coming in September

by George Jared ([email protected]) 481 views 

Entrepreneur Ti King wanted to organize a festival to recognize, educate and grow the podcast community in Arkansas. He wanted to model it after RTX Austin, a gaming and internet festival held in Austin, Texas each summer. King told Talk Business & Politics he spent months pulling together sponsors, vendors and featured speakers.

One person he wanted to be a featured speaker was Karen Tricot Steward, a longtime journalist who is also the CEO and founder of the Power of Pod, a company that provides myriad services for podcasters. Little did he know that before he even contacted her, she was already waiting for the call, she told TB&P.

The two struck up a quick friendship and professional partnership. The first ARKAST Festival was held last year in central Arkansas and it went really well, King said. It is now sponsored by the Arkansas Podcast Collaborative, a nonprofit group founded by King, Steward, and Brittany Rush. APC’s goal is to grow and nurture the podcast community in Arkansas, Steward said.

The second ARKAST Festival will be a week-long event starting on Sept. 1. A series of workshops and events will be held each day leading up to the actual festival which will be held on Sept. 7 at the Innovation Hub in North Little Rock.

“Podcasting has been around for 25 years, but for a lot of people it’s fairly new,” King said. “A lot of people have ideas about what they want to podcast about.”

A second part of the festival will be held two weeks later in Northwest Arkansas with several events already scheduled. One of the new features of this year’s festival will be the podcast pitch contest to be held Sept. 1 at the Robinson Center in Little Rock.

Prospective podcasters will “pitch” their podcast idea to judges similar to the TV show Shark Tank. The winner will receive a podcasting package that includes equipment, professional coaching and editing and other podcast services.

Statistics for podcast and podcast listeners are hard to come by, King said. They’ve created a database and so far it has about 250 podcasts that originate in Arkansas. Steward said she thinks there are probably around 350 or so podcasts that originate in the Natural State.

The most popular genre tends to be true crime, but religious and sports podcasts are popular in the state as well. One area that seems to be lacking is fictional podcasting, King said.

Diversity in the space is lacking across the board, Steward said. Asian, African-American, and other minorities are underrepresented in the podcast space, she said. “We need a more diverse group telling their stories.”