Fort Worth hosts world's largest podcast conference

Fort Worth hosted the world's largest podcasting convention. Carla Wade reports.

FORT WORTH — When President Obama agreed to an interview with stand-up comedian and actor Marc Maron, it was buzzworthy for a lot of reasons.

Among those reasons, the medium itself: A podcast — an audio program you can download from the Internet and listen to on a smartphone, tablet or computer.

"It doesn't get much bigger than the president being in your garage to record a podcast with you," said Dan Franks, organizer of Podcast Movement, the largest podcaster conference in the world being held this weekend at the Fort Worth Omni hotel.

As host of WTF, one of the most successful podcasts ever, Maron was a featured speaker Sunday at Podcast Movement. Maron and the popularity of Serial, a podcast focusing on true life stories over the course of several episodes, is getting credit for giving podcasters a higher profile — and attracting a wider audience.

"Podcasting is huge right now," Franks said.

At least a thousand people attended this year's conference. There was a mix between experienced podcasters and others just learning how to broadcast online for themselves or for the companies where they work.

Michael Walker drove up from Austin to get guidance for his company, Positive Energy, a building and science consulting firm.

"There's no experience like talking to other people who are doing it," said Walker. "And this is all in one place, and there's a lot of energy here."

Technology is a large part of what drives the interest in podcasting. No radio station or studio is required; just a good microphone and something to record with. Mobile devices of every size and type could be seen at the conference.

Adam Sachs is with Midroll Media, a company recently acquired by E. W. Scripps Company. "An old journalism and media company that's now making big investments into digital media," Sachs said.

He said for Scripps, his company is an investment in the future.

"Marc Maron is as much a journalist as people you would see on '60 Minutes,'" Sachs said. "To them, that's what the next generation of journalism is going to be."

It drives home the message that for some, podcasting is about spreading information to a niche audience; for others, it's about staying relevant in the digital age.

Other featured guests during the conference were Sarah Koenig of Serial, Aisha Tyler, and Glenn Beck.


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