Chicago will host its first-ever podcast festival Nov.17-19 in order to capitalize on the fastest growing art form of this century. The Chicago Podcast Festival will offer longtime podcasting fans a chance to match faces to the voices of their favorite podcast hosts. For newer podcasting fans, it will be a chance to discover interesting series through exciting live shows.
For the latecomers to the podcasting scene, podcasts are digital audio files uploaded to the internet, often in series, and are available to download, typically free of charge. Podcasts can be considered the 21st century’s version of the radio broadcast program.
The Chicago Podcast Festival will showcase a lineup of 30 shows dispersed throughout five venues. The festival features podcasts from the world of arts and entertainment, including topics such as film, literature and storytelling. The Phoenix is bringing you the top picks for a weekend full of podcasting fun.
“The Book of Ye”, The Promontory (5311 S. Lake Park Ave.); 9 p.m.
Audiences can join comedians Rob Haze and Chris Daniels as they explore the cultural significance and artistic legacy of Chicago native and self-proclaimed god Kanye West. Each episode features a special guest and delves into a new chapter of the ever-expanding legend of the mad genius called Yeezy.
“Bullseye”, The Promontory (5311 S. Lake Park Ave.); 7 p.m.
Formerly known as “The Sound of Young America,” “Bullseye” is hosted by Jesse Thorn, bringing listeners the latest and greatest in popular culture. Each week, Thorn conducts in-depth interviews with revolutionary artists such as Elvis Costello, Zach Galifi- anakis and RuPaul. This show has been honored by iTunes editorial staff as a “classic” Best of iTunes podcast selection. The Chicago Podcast Fes- tival episode will feature comedian Dwayne Kennedy, actor Andre Royo and musical guest Split Single.
“Pleasure Town”, Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre (1700 N. Halsted St.);
Fans of the HBO show “Westworld” will love “Pleasure Town,” a podcast that explores a hedonistic utopia in the form of a turn-of-the-century Oklahoma town. The town’s history is crowdsourced by the producers, collaborators and audience piece by piece, and the story is told from the
perspective of the ghosts of the townspeople. Each season spans from the birth of the town to the waning years of the its existence, while each episode reflects upon the fantastic events that led to the town’s demise.
“Kevin McDonald’s Kevin McDonald Show”, The Athenaeum Theater (2936 N Southport Ave.); 7 p.m.
This podcast features the most star-studded lineup the festival has to offer. “Kevin McDonald’s Kevin McDonald Show” records a live, old-school variety hour with famous friends, musical acts, new sketches and uninhibited tomfoolery. Hosted by Kevin McDonald (from sketch comedy group, The Kids In The Hall), the Chicago Podcast Festival episode will feature special guest Bob Saget (“Full House”), Scott Adsit (“30 Rock”) and folk-rock band Fruit Bats.
“RISK!”, The Promontory (5311 S. Lake Park Ave.); 9 p.m.
Hosted by Kevin Allison of the legendary TV sketch comedy troupe The State, “RISK!” is a live, monthly show in New York and Los Angeles in which people share their shocking personal stories in public. In the past, “RISK!” has featured notable guests such as Trevor Noah, Margaret Cho and Sarah Silverman.
“Song Exploder”, The Promontory (5311 S. Lake Park Ave.); 7 p.m.
In “Song Exploder,” musicians dissect their songs and share their creative processes. Hrischikesh Hirway, the producer, editor and host of “Song Exploder,” takes individual tracks from an artist and asks that artist to analyze the decisions behind the songs. “Song Exploder” has featured popular artists such as Weezer, The Postal Service, Iggy Pop, Bjork and The Lumineers. For music fans, this podcast is a great opportunity to discover what inspired some of your favorite tracks.
“Arguments & Grievances”, Schuba’s Tavern (3159 N. Southport Ave.); 7 p.m.
Hosted by local comedians Kevin White, Zach Peterson and Kevin Brody, “Arguments & Grievances” is equal parts comedy show and rhetorical deathmatch. With hilarity and absurdity, the comedians engage in heated debates such as “Hugs vs. Drugs,” “McRib vs. Macbeth” and “Underwater vs. Outerspace.” The podcast was voted “Best Variety Show” by Chicago Magazine in 2014 and is a great showcase for Chicago’s underground comedians.
“Crybabies”, Vittum Theatre (1012 N. Noble St.); 9 p.m.
If your playlists are full of breakup songs and you’ve seen “The Notebook” more times than you can count, “Crybabies” is the podcast for you. Hosts Sarah Thyre (“Strangers with Candy”) and Susan Orlean (a writer for The New Yorker) discuss what has tickled their tear ducts each week. Their Chicago Podcast Festival show features the Chicago-based musical trio Sunshine Boys, whose members will discuss their dark take on the pop-rock genre.
“The Room Where It’s Happening”, The Promontory (5311 S. Lake Park Ave.);
Chicago is buzzing from the hit musical “Hamilton,” and if you are too, “The Room Where It’s Happening” will be your happy place. Mike Drucker and Travon Free speak with actors, musicians, writers and comedians who are “Hamilton” superfans. Drucker and Free’s Chicago Podcast Festival live show will feature Ari Asfar, who plays Eliza in the Chicago cast of “Hamilton.”
Ticket prices range from $10- $47 and are available for purchase now at chicagopodcastfestival.org/schedule/.
You can also visit the Chicago Podcast Festival website at http://chicagopodcastfestival.org/.