Ira Glass delivering his keynote at this year’s Third Coast. Photo by Bill Healy.
Everyone’s eyes, and ears, were fixed on Ira Glass. The public radio legend positioned himself behind the lectern on stage where he mused on the Wild West that is podcasting. “In this room, we have an opportunity. We’re one part of news media actually growing,” he explained, in the same pleasant nasal tone he’s become known for as host of This American Life.
It was the closing day of Chicago’s Third Coast International Audio Festival and the roughly 800 attendees—some veteran public radio producers, others newbie podcasters—had packed into the Hyatt ballroom a few blocks from Lake Michigan. If the workshops and panels of the preceding two days didn’t already do it, Glass’s keynote seemed to energize conference goers in a way that left them ready to record the next Great American Podcast. “If there’s a group of people I’d want to invent something with, it’s you guys,” he said.
Podcasting is in a nascent stage, Glass reminded his audience. If you uttered the word “podcast” just a few years ago, most people would have responded with a blank stare. That’s not the case today. The question now is not what’s a podcast? but what’s your podcast about? Unlike other mediums, the rules are still being written, many of them by those in that hotel ballroom. Third Coast has become the place to reflect on the past year in audio storytelling, while also drafting a playbook for
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