Playing it by ear: YEGPodfest celebrates audio storytelling with online festival

· The Pulse
By Paul Blinov
in the Arts Roundup
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No matter how niche an interest of yours is, there's probably a podcast about it.

The second-annual YEGPodfest is celebrating everything podcasts have to offer with three days of online conversations, panels, and workshops.

"The great thing about podcasting is that the means of production and dissemination are easily available, so there's an inherent diversity of voices and content out there," festival producer Fawnda Mithrush told Taproot.

That diversity is on display in YEGPodfest's lineup — this year's events range from book-focused panel discussions to a conversation with the host of LifeJolt, a podcast about women who have experienced (or are experiencing) Canada's correctional system. There are also masterclasses on audio storytelling and improving podcast listenership, and more.

While there isn't a particular theme to the festival's programming, Mithrush notes some patterns have emerged in the final lineup.

"It was almost impossible to avoid discussions on the political landscape," she says. "Especially with shows like The Strategists, Women of ABpoli, and The Flamethrowers, there are some fascinating angles on how different voices shape our perceptions and awareness of politics."

YEGPodfest A few of the faces (and podcasts) appearing at this year's YEGPodfest. (Supplied)

Many festivals and organizations have had to pivot to online programming throughout the pandemic. But during last year's inaugural festival — originally envisioned as an in-person event — Mithrush found that both podcasters and their audiences were willing to participate virtually.

"When LitFest and Alberta Podcast Network applied for a collaborative grant to start a new festival back in 2019, it was never our intention to program an online event," Mithrush explains. "But the podcasters and audience really responded to the offering — of all the mediums that had to move online in the pandemic, podcasters were ready to go."

"We're feeling pretty pumped about the lineup," Mithrush adds, of this year's festival. "We'll see some great conversations over those three days."