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The attracts . That was the verdict on social media in 2017, when the gathering was still new and Londoners were still new to of being surrounded by fellow podcast obsessives.
Three years after its 2016 launch, the festival has grown from a three-day event to a two-weekend spectacular. It returns to in London this Friday, bringing some of Britain’s most beloved podcasts to the venue’s three rooms, along with popular US shows.
“Really, all people mean when they say nerdy is that people are really passionate and enthusiastic about something. And I certainly feel that same way about podcasting,” says Zoë Jeyes, producer and programmer of the festival.
Though podcasting is still a niche interest, the medium is growing in popularity. Ofcom found that listened to a podcast every week in 2018. And if you’re prepared to go and see your favorite podcast recorded live? Well, you might be the kind of nerd who’d be right at home at King’s Place.
The biggest American podcasts represented at the festival include , the surreal , and Chris Gethard’s . Homegrown shows on offer include , the award-winning and Deborah Frances White’s , in which White navigates the contradictions and hypocrisies involved in sticking to her principles in the modern world.
But the festival also prides itself on introducing fans to new voices. Comedy and true crime podcasts are the biggest hitters in the UK and America, but the festival lineup also includes storytelling, poetry and shows with musical elements. Jeyes says she’s made a conscious effort to bring a diverse range of voices to the lineup and offer something the average fan might not have heard before.
“I think you have to make an effort to … push yourself outside of your comfort zone in terms of what you listen to regularly, and seek out new shows and new voices across different genres and styles of podcast,” she says.
Between podcasts, organizers hope to cater to fans’ enthusiasm with the help of a pop-up “fan experience zone” provided by Spotify. This interactive relaxation area promises to bring podcast listening and recording booths, as well as opportunities to meet your favorite podcasters.
Britain’s podcasting scene has always been a few steps behind America’s, where and independent studios such as Earwolf, Maximum Fun and Nerdist have long been producing their own shows. The UK podcasting charts have traditionally been dominated by legacy media such as the BBC, newspapers and magazines. Many commercial podcasts are supported by Acast, a partner of the festival, which offers hosting and dynamic ads. But Britain doesn’t have an equivalent to America’s industry of original podcast powerhouses.
At least not yet.
Taking live podcasting seriously
King’s Place is a relatively new arts venue, but it’s no stranger to live podcasts, which it’s been hosting since 2010 — something most UK venues weren’t doing at the time. What changed everything? A businesswoman with breasts like pomegranates and access to her office’s “leather room.”
had a simple premise: Host Jamie Morton’s father had self-published “a modern story of sex, erotica and passion” under the pen name Rocky Flintstone. And now an increasingly horrified Morton had roped in his friends to read and discuss its thrilling plot twists and his dad’s peculiar grasp of anatomy. The show was a runaway success, leading to internet and comedy awards, a spin-off book, an HBO special and worldwide tours that reached London’s Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House.
“I think [My Dad Wrote A free men porno and The Guilty Feminist] selling out the Royal Albert Hall, for example, kind of probably woke up a few venues who would not have even considered hosting a live podcast back in 2010,” Jeyes says, noting that the show’s first live appearance was at King’s Place. It’s not returning for this year’s festival, but she hopes to welcome the podcast world’s most dutiful son back once his dad produces some new material.