Pictured above: a Zoom page during the Podthon conference. Podthon co-founder Danielle Desir is in the top-left corner (getting emotional during goodbyes), and Podthon co-founder Lee Uehara is on the far-right, second row from the top.
NOTES FROM PODTHON'S CONFERENCE ORGANIZER KEYNOTE
On why they created their events
Afros and Audio founder Talib Jasir: At the larger conferences, people of color were being relegated mostly to conversations about diversity — as if we didn't have expertise in any other topics. I wanted to create a space to fill in those gaps, but also to find community, support, resources, and opportunities for collaboration. I wanted to create a place where we could talk about more than diversity and inclusion.
Podthon co-founder Danielle Desir: I was seeing people of color apply to speak, and then the rejections would hit like a ton of bricks. We wanted to create a place where speakers of color could present their ideas — because so many great ideas are being left on the table at the big conferences.
Podfest Expo founder Chris Krimitsos: We saw a need in the conference space. I've produced thousands of events, and this was the very first conference I planned where sponsors sought me out to give me money. I used to have to beg, borrow, and steal!
On representation at podcast events
Talib: At our first event, we needed people to feel like they're in a safe space before they might be comfortable participating. We didn't have a trans speaker at the first event, but now we're trying to lead up to that. We are working towards that.
Chris: We noticed that we didn't have enough female speakers. People tend to feature the people they hang out with. Now we have a committee of people who help us find new voices. You have to just reach out. Go to the organizers of various communities and ask if they'll spread the word —guess what, they pretty much always say yes!
International Podcast Day co-founder Dave Lee: By nature, we want to have as many voices and faces from the international community as possible. We often reach out overseas.
On what organizers look for in speaker applications
Chris: I don't accept pitches from PR people. You have to submit for yourself. We're looking for people who are part of this community. You also need to put in your time before you're in the keynote spot.
Talib: I need to see that this person is engaging and organized, and can create value. We got a great response to last year's event. People said things like "I've been in New York a long time, but this the first time it felt like home." We tend to not look to our right and left for support; this is our opportunity to come together as a community. It's about getting involved and being intentional.
Dave: I look for speakers who are servants of the community. For example, two of our speakers from Kenya went on to start Africa Podfest 2020. These are the kind of people I want to highlight. You can't get on the stage for selfish reasons. That creates a very uncomfortable environment.
On how the pandemic has impacted their plans
Talib: Our intention is about creating in-person connections, so I was resistant to the idea of a virtual event. But we adapted. We partnered with Acast for a virtual series. We are trying to keep the community engaged with our event while also making resources available. Sustainability is really important. It's easy to start, but then you have to keep it going. We want to help with that.
Chris: We're doing a virtual event and afterward I'm going to go into Zoom detox! We have more than 30 speakers scheduled.
[Note: I'm told by Podthon founders Danielle Desir and Lee Uehara that you can access the recordings from last weekend's Podthon for a fee here.]