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Live! Philly! Podcasts!

The 5th Annual Philadelphia Podcast Festival rocks 55+ Philly-area podcasters.
The "Black Tribbles" podcasters will be among the notable guests at the July 14 Philly Podcast Festival. (Zamani Feelings)

Bring together podcasters and their enthusiasts, and you’ve already got the makings of a great party where everyone has ideas they think are unique and fresh. So you can count on a bash with room-intimate conversations when the Philadelphia Podcasting Society actually gathers more than 50 local podcasters for the 5th Annual Philadelphia Podcast Festival.

“We decided to do a festival because Philadelphia is home to many great podcasts, and we wanted to raise their visibility,” said festival organizer and Philadelphia Podcasting Society co-founder Teagan Kuruna. “We also wanted to provide ways for podcasters to record live and for podcasters and fans to meet each other.”

The festival will be held in various locations around town (the Troc, PhillyCAM, Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse, etc.) Along with our reliance on homegrown celebrities (as opposed to “some cities' podcast scenes dominated by star power,” as Kuruna put it), one of the great things about Philly podcasts and this event is that it reflects the diversity of people and perspectives in the city.

“I don't think there's one overarching theme or connection because they're all reflective of the creativity Philly holds,” Kuruna said. “Rather than a homogenous group, Philly's podcasts are varied in content [true crime, sex, race, comedy, sports, movies, music, etc.] and format [roundtable, interviews, scripted fiction].”

One group to look for is arguably the city’s most popular: "Black Tribbles," which goes by the tag “too cool to be geeks, too cute to be nerds” in their quest to be THE African-American Nerdist.

“Without trying, we've become the nexus for everything black and geeky in Philly – a dope place to be, and we carry that responsibility on our shoulders proudly,” said Len Webb, aka the BatTribble – the podcast’s creator, graphic designer and executive producer – of his quintet of fellow Tribbles.

Podcasting allows an unfiltered, uncensored voice to be heard (“and to find a tribe of like minds,” he said), and the Tribbles’ unbridled enthusiasm and knowledge is truly explosive in a group setting.

“Being in a crew makes it more fun, satisfying and easier for every one of every geeky persuasion to feel included. We're unique in that people not only want to listen to us, they want to be in the room with us, to say they were there,” Webb said.

Recording live – as Tribbles will do at Fishtown’s Amalgam Comics – is therefore the best way to witness the group dynamics and antics.

“This will be our fourth time at bat as the festival’s closing act, which is validation that we do dope live shows,” Webb said. “It's easy to fall into the trap of ‘talking to yourself.’ The best podcasters challenge themselves to cultivate their shows based on the feedback of their fans.”

Philly native Hal Lublin – currently a voiceover artist for the likes of Adult Swim’s “The Venture Bros.” and Cartoon Network’s “Mighty Magiswords” – believes that if it wasn’t for podcasting, his voice never would’ve gotten "out there," literally and figuratively. “As a medium, it's a land of opportunity that's available to anyone with some decent recording equipment and time,” said Lublin. “The barrier to entry is low, and the potential is high.”

Lublin is so convinced by the power of the podcast and its connectivity to diverse crowds, that he has three: "Welcome to Nightvale," "Thrilling Adventure Hour" and "We Got This," the last of which he’ll create live in a public debate with co-creator Mark Gagliardi during 5PPF. “The whole premise of 'We Got This' is taking unimportant topics that friends and family argue about passionately and settling them once and for all,” said Lublin. “That means when you hear the topic – which we'll reveal on stage, you'll instantly have an opinion about it, probably a stronger one than you would have expected.” 

As for how "We Got This" – and pretty much every live podcast event during the 5th Annual Philadelphia Podcast Festival – will work in a live session, Lublin pretty much spoke for every podcaster. “The energy from the crowd feeds us, and then we're off to the races.” 

The Philadelphia Podcast Festival runs July 14-23. For the full lineup of live podcast recordings and locations visit www.phillypodfest.com.