When Steve Ramos first had the idea to launch a podcast festival in Cincinnati, he sought out a team to make it reality. For the fest to be successful, he knew it needed to also be diverse and inclusive — in race, gender, economic standing and experiences.
Ramos, founder of SR Media — a design, writing and strategy hub that works out of Over-the-Rhine’s Union Hall “disruptor workspace” — cites inclusion and diversity as key components, facets he finds especially important as someone who works in the startup and tech world.
“My joke is I think I am the only Latino in Cintrifuse right now,” Ramos says. (Cintrifuse is a Cincinnati startup network of which SR Media is a part.) “And they forget I’m Latino. I don’t know, maybe I don’t sound it or look it or whatever. And in tech that type of diversity and inclusivity is, really, a pressing issue and kind of a crisis.”
In regards to the actual diversity proportion among the team of creators for the podcast festival, Ramos says: “We are beyond that 50 percent minority quota and we will be more successful because of that.”
Ramos believes the diversity among the festival leadership will also attract a more diverse audience. “That was really a key value to building this event,” he says.
The festival — dubbed Cincinnati’s First Podcast Festival — takes place Nov. 1 and 2 at Memorial Hall. The fest is made up of five live performances and a number of breakout brainstorming sessions throughout the day; guests can sit face-to-face with podcasters to discuss different topics related to podcasting or creative work. The festival is targeted at those with a wide range of podcasting experience, with three tracts making up the fest.
“You can spend a day and a half with the Pantsuit Politics team, which is the leading podcast out of our city, and you’ll learn all the best practices, whether you’re an emerging podcaster — meaning you’re going to launch your series — whether you’re maybe mid-level experience, maybe you have 25, 35, 50 episodes but you want to get it to the 100 episode max and make it more of a business,” Ramos says.
Beth Silvers, co-host of Pantsuit Politics, says Cincinnati has a great atmosphere for podcasting because of the city’s sense of innovation. She co-hosts her show with Sarah Stewart Holland and says that two female hosts is not the norm in the podcasting world, which, she says, began “with such a bro mentality.”
Since Pantsuit Politics went live in 2015, Silvers believes she and Holland have already found engagement with their audience.
“It’s cool because we get to really connect with the audience,” she says. “We get these emails from our listeners that are so long and thoughtful and personal.”
Silvers believes the collaborative aspect of podcasting (and, in turn, the engagement listeners feel) will underscore the upcoming festival. During the festival, Silvers and Holland will record an episode of Pantsuit Politics as one of the live performances.
Brad Mulvey of the podcast Millennial Mastermind will also be one of the main performers at the event. He feels that this festival will stand out among similar festivals because it was created by podcasters for podcasters. He hopes to see the festival drive engagement among podcasters in the region.
“Really anyone can create a podcast if you’re passionate about the topic,” Mulvey says. “It is an incredible way to bring people together who share similar passions.”
Millennial Mastermind — which focuses on sharing tools and inspiration for entrepreneurial millennials — first came to fruition in 2015 when Mulvey felt he could not find a podcast that fit the subject he was looking for. So, he made his own.
Ramos and his team are considering this year’s Podcast Festival as a soft-open with about 150 estimated attendees. And he expects this event to become annual, continuing next year.
“Storytelling will always continue,” Ramos says. “There will always be creative people in support of storytelling. And that’s what this event is about.”
Cincinnati’s First Podcast Festival takes place Nov. 1 and 2 at Memorial Hall. More info/tickets: memorialhallotr.com.