"Podpreneurs" present engaging shows

There’s a new festival in town, but it’s not the beer-and-brat kind of festival. We’ll call it a “hear-and-thought” kind of festival.


It’s the first Cincinnati Podcast Festival, and it begins Thursday, Nov. 1 at Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine.


Other cities have put on such events — Columbus, Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, New York — there’s even a podcast cruise. This will be the only one dedicated to showcasing and expanding what is a rich variety of digital audio storytelling and dialogue in Greater Cincinnati.


“We hope this event will emphasize that Cincinnati is a podcast hub,” said festival organizer Steve Ramos. “It’s really like a summit, a creative conference.”


The day-and-a-half event is a mix of breakout sessions led by experienced professionals from Enquirer Media and The E.W. Scripps Company, as well as by popular podpreneurs who are exploring the format as a side hustle or simply out of a passion to pursue good ideas. There will be many opportunities for networking and learning and several chances both days to watch and participate in live podcasting from Memorial Hall’s main stage.


Sean C. Davis is on the festival team. By day, he is a developer for the marketing firm Ample. By night, he creates his “Squirrel Stories” podcast. The idea came to him about four years ago after hanging out with friends. While sharing stories, they realized that the tales that got the most laughs or resonated were the ones that were downright embarrassing to the storyteller.


“We thought, ‘Could we convince people to tell stories about themselves that are funny or embarrassing?’ Turns out people are pretty willing to do that,” Davis says.


Thus, “Squirrel Stories” was born. It began with a live podcast once a month at Overlook Lodge, the Pleasant Ridge pub, and has now expanded into a series.


Davis expects the festival to be a lively, enlightening, and fun event. “I want people to feel like they were engaged, like they learned something.”


The highlights should be the live podcasts of some of Cincinnati’s most popular shows, which will take place on the Memorial Hall stage on Thursday and Friday. Here’s the lineup:


Sean Davis will bring Squirrel Stories to the stage at 4 p.m. Thursday. It’ll be a rare chance to share a funny personal story with a big, live audience.


A double bill begins at 8 p.m. Thursday. First up will be “The Politics Guys,” always a popular podcast topic. The hosts are Dr. Michael Baranowski, a professor who teaches classes in American Politics, the Politics of Desire and Mass Media, and American Politics in Film at Northern Kentucky University. He leans to the liberal end of the political spectrum. The other is Jay Carson, an attorney. His politics tend toward the conservative. Expect an animated discussion.


Then, Amanda Valentine will take the stage with her podcast, “Pound This.” Amanda is an on-air personality at country station B-105. Her podcast is all about her journey of losing more than 100 pounds and about ways to encourage others to get and stay healthy.


Friday morning’s live podcast begins at 9 a.m. with Dean Regas, the Cincinnati Observatory’s outreach astronomer, and Anna Hehman, the observatory’s director of development. Their cast, called “Looking Up,” is a fun, quick-paced conversation about planets, stars, the universe, science, and technology, with a little pop culture thrown in.


At 4 p.m. Friday, Brad Mulvey, a Cleveland-based tech marketer, will bring his “Millennial Mastermind” podcast to the stage. He connects with inspiring, successful people who share their stories about how they got to where they are today.


The final live cast will take place at 8 p.m. Friday, with Beth Silvers and Sarah Stewart Holland presenting their bipartisan show “Pantsuit Politics.” Sarah leans to the political left, while Beth tilts towards the political right, but they engage in compelling and intelligent dialogue. We hear their secret to success is listening respectfully to each other as well as their guests.


Cincinnati’s first podcast festival begins Thursday, Nov. 1, from noon to 9 p.m., and continues Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Cincinnati. An all-festival pass is $60; one-day passes are $30. They can be purchased at www.cincypodcastfestival.com or at www.memorialhallotr.com.

Read more articles by David Holthaus.

David Holthaus is an award-winning journalist, Cincinnati native and father of three. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading or watching classic movies.
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