Chloe Hawkins, Spectrum Editor
People from a variety of different backgrounds and ages attended multiple workshops, guest talks and art exhibitions at Richmond’s first podcast festival from Oct. 14-15 at the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU.
Virginia Public Media and the ICA hosted the RESONATE Podcast Festival. The idea of this festival was to supply the skills, education and resources needed for the production process of podcasting, according to VPM’s community engagement manager Terry Menefee Gau.
“What I’m hoping for personally is that this lets people tell stories from their own experiences and ideas,” Gau said.
This weekend-long event is the first podcast festival to happen in Richmond, according to Gau. She said Chioke I’Anson, the podcast festival’s host, reached out to VPM after needing funds to cover the production of this event.
“It’s gone beyond just a money partnership,” Gau said. “We became a partnership in ways that we haven’t with any other organization in recent years.”
I’Anson said the best part of this event is that these guest speakers are professional podcasters who know how to be informative and entertaining on a microphone. I’Anson said he is very happy with how the event went — especially the first day.
“Every talk that happened … was very engaging, funny and impactful,” I’Anson said. “It’s the best-case scenario.”
I’Anson created this festival to answer all the frequently asked questions about podcasting in one single event, he said. These questions include how to edit, interview, market podcasts and negotiate podcast deals, according to I’Anson.
“We wanted to make something where you could come to it over the course of just a couple days, and find answers and resources to get started,” I’Anson said.
The exhibition “Standing Resonance” attached to the event is composed of three collective works: the summer camp alumni’s final projects, Brooklyn-based sound designer James T. Green’s artworks, and an interactive podcast called “The Secret’s Hotline” where strangers can anonymously call into the show to tell any secrets they have, according to I’Anson.
“We need to accept that podcasts can be an artistic practice,” I’Anson said. “There’s been a long tradition of audio art, and we’re trying to add to that.”
The most important thing I’Anson wants this event to do is help people connect with one another and help spark creativity, he said.
“A lot of people have a desire, or passion and that has to be met with technical know-hows — that’s what RESONATE is doing,” I’Anson said.
People are interested in what this event will look like next year, or if it will happen at all, according to I’Anson. He said he hopes the ICA is able to facilitate an event like this again.
The first RESONATE podcast performer on Friday was Amanda Hickman, former interim director of the Association of Independents in Radio. The process of creating her talk started when a conversation with I’Anson began about how hard it is to find the resources to begin the podcasting journey, Hickman said.
“A lot of podcast 101 videos are clickbait, or lack information,” Hickman said. “So that was my mandate, to talk about the resources available to people.”
Hickman incorporates both the skills side of things, as well as the money-making side in her talk, according to Hickman. She said she is happy with all the inspiration that was felt in the sessions.
“There’s no substitute for coming out of a session and making eye contact with someone who also thought it was interesting,” Hickman said. “That’s how you make collaborations — by accidentally bumping into people.”
Festival attendee and VCU alum Abigail Snider decided to attend to grow their own podcasting skills and connect with people for freelancing audio opportunities, Snider said.
The main job they do for clients is help edit and produce their podcasting shows, according to Snider.
“I started editing and realized how easy it came to me,” Snider said. “In engineering we used computer softwares for so many different things.”
Snider graduated from VCU with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2015. The event helped affirm Snider’s career path, they said.
“If anything it’s just boosted my confidence,” Snider said. “I just feel so at home at this event — for that alone I’m happy to be here.”