PonCon was created after a conversation between several podcasting/Internet giants: Hank Green (of Vlog Brothers fame), Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor (Welcome to Night Vale and Night Vale Presents), and Travis McElroy (My Brother, My Brother, and Me and countless other shows). These four wanted a place where podcast fans could meet up and have all sorts of conversations, the good and bad. The first PodCon was held December 9-10, 2017 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.
The second PodCon came back to Seattle and happened recently: January 19-20, 2019. At PodCon 2, there were live shows from podcasts like The Stoop, Hannahlyze This, Hello From the Magic Tavern, and Dear Hank and John. Panels this year included topics like the origin stories of different creators, finding the story to tell, queer content and trans representation, audience participation, and so much more. There were workshops about how to create podcasts and find sponsors and meetups for different communities.
Andrea, creator of What’s A Podcast?, had a chance to go to PodCon 2. The following is her take on the weekend.
I am an introvert with depression and anxiety and my current day to day life means I don’t spend a whole lot of time face to face with people. All of those things are why I love podcasts so much. These shows are an amazing way to feel a sense of intimacy and community with others while not in the same physical space and they’re an amazing way to learn and grow as a person.
I do have to say that as much as I love podcasts, I was a little conflicted in the weeks leading up to the conference. On one hand, I was incredibly excited to see some of my favorite shows and creators and all the events sounded so interesting. Plus, I eventually learned that I was chosen to participate in a small group chat with Kathy and Tobin from WNYC’s Nancy! On the other hand, I was going alone and I knew that I still have a long journey ahead of me with my anxiety.
All of my fears, however, turned out false, as everyone I met over the weekend was incredibly friendly and the weekend was so much fun! Plus, there were so many attendees who, like me, also went to the conference by themselves and it was so easy to just start a conversation before a panel or show with a stranger sitting near you. Some folks even dressed up in amazing costumes/cosplays!
At one of her panels, Hannah Hart made the comment that “PodCon is way gayer than I thought”, which was an extremely accurate observation in my opinion. There were several popular queer shows and creators there and a few panels specifically about queer content and representation! As a queer person myself, it was wonderful to be surrounded by my own community and so many accepting and wonderful people.
I do have to note that some of my anxiety did help me, as I didn’t stay near the convention center for the weekend and my trip each day was 30-40 minutes one way on a Seattle bus. Planning ahead was a game changer, as having pens, a notebook, my phone charger, a reusable mug, and snacks made each day significantly less stressful. I was worried that I packed too much but having snacks in my bag meant that I had more time to meet people and talk before a panel or show, as I didn’t have to run around trying to find food. And having a notebook was a great idea, as there were so many good things said in every panel/show I went to.
Plus, I planned ahead and found an amazing coffee shop just a block from the convention center, which allowed me to get some much needed and utterly delicious coffee! (Check out Caffe Ladro on 8th Ave and Pine St if you’re at the convention center or in the area!) Having the reusable mug meant that my coffee stayed warm for some time and I was able to use it for water later in the day (an important thing because I ended up almost losing my voice on day one!).
As far as the actual conference, I thought it was really well planned. The website had an FAQ page with info well in advance; there were emails with new info after I bought my tickets in the months leading up to the event; plus, there was a three hour period you could check in the Friday before to get your wristband and more info, which made Saturday morning much easier! They even used Sched, an online event schedule and agenda builder so attendees could create an online schedule of the panels/shows/workshops they wanted to go to!
Some of my favorite moments from the weekend include:
- Meeting so many wonderful and thoughtful people who also love the things I love
- Meeting creators like Dylan Marron, Lauren Shippen, Hannah Hart, Kathy Tu, Tobin Low, Julia Morizawa, Briggon Snow, and Meg Bashwiner.
- Learning so much about how creators work and find stories
- This one isn’t related to podcasts but I stayed with my cousin for the weekend and it was so amazing to spend time with her! I have the best family and this weekend was a reminder that my family, including my cousin, is so lovely.
But by far, my most favorite part of PodCon was that despite the number of people, it still felt intimate and like a community. Everyone I met was so incredibly nice and it was really fun to just talk to other attendees while waiting for another session to start. In the panels I attended, there was often time for audience questions and at some panels, it was possible to talk to panelists/creators afterward! Plus, there were small creator chats, meet and greets, and fan meetups. All of these things only made the conference feel so small and welcoming, even with such a large attendance.
Ultimately, I had the most amazing time at PodCon 2. It was exhausting but inspiring and wonderful for my own soul. It’s the reason why I started this site and I’m so grateful for the chance to tell some of my favorite creators just how important they and their work are to me.