A photo of a man in front of a microphone in a recording studio.
Chioke l’Anson is director of community media at the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU and founder of the RESONATE Podcast Festival. (Courtesy of the Institute for Contemporary Art)

Another sellout crowd is streaming to VCU’s RESONATE Podcast Festival this year

The Nov. 3-4 event at the Institute for Contemporary Art connects national figures to Richmond’s emerging scene.

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After Virginia Commonwealth University’s inaugural RESONATE Podcast Festival last year sold out with roughly 250 people, founder Chioke I'Anson, Ph.D., wanted to go bigger and better. It again has proved to be one of the toughest tickets in town.

This year’s 350 spots have already been snatched up by locals and podcast enthusiasts from audio production hubs up and down the East Coast. At the two-day event Nov. 3-4, I'Anson promises them a space of community, mutual support and celebration for the podcast industry.

“The goal was to bring these national people to Richmond so that students and people who are local could meet them, learn more about production and try and get more opportunities,” said I'Anson, director of community media at the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, which is hosting the festival. “That’s part of the idea. The other part of the idea is just to develop community. There are these big audio communities in all these other cities and there are people trying to make a community here, and I'm trying to help nurture that.”

RESONATE is presented by the VPM + ICA Community Media Center in partnership with the Association of Independents in Radio, LWC Studios and Room Tone, and it is sponsored by Common House Richmond, Molly Dodge, Hindenburg, Tulip AI, Blue Dot Sessions, Goat Rodeo, Steve Lack: Audio, Radiotopia, Focusrite, and Bitchin’ Boucha.

The festival will include presentations from skilled producers, live performances, art exhibitions and pitch feedback meetings. The appeal to local students, producers and hobbyists is clear.

“The festival itself is a gathering of these producers, all of whom you'll be able to walk right up to and talk to and ask questions,” I'Anson said. “That’s major. It’s not like, when the thing is over, cats are going to go walk into a VIP room or whatever. Everyone’s going to be here in the forum talking to one another.”

A picture of the Institute for Contemporary Art with the word \"RESONATE\" written across the bottom level's window in pink letters.
RESONATE Podcast Festival in Richmond, Virginia: two days of workshops, performances, and exhibitions open to all. (Photo by Candice Patrice)

Attendees having that one-on-one connection with producers and industry experts was a priority for I’Anson.

“In doing that, people come to understand the potential and the possibility of becoming a producer or working in the industry,” he said. “And then we have these live performances that are going to be super nice from really dope producers/performers.”

As for why so many people from podcast-centric cities such as New York, Philadelphia and D.C. are coming to RESONATE, the reason highlights why I’Anson created the festival.

“All podcast festivals have different focuses,” I'Anson said. “All the festivals out there do something a little bit different. And because of that, I think that we've found something that producers feel like they need. They want a festival that’s not super huge, because now these festivals are massive, and they maybe don’t want to talk about ad sales and stuff too much. Maybe they just want to talk about craft and they want to also feel like their work matters and that there’s [recognition for] the love that goes into making a long-form story.”

Also differentiating RESONATE from other podcast conventions is the location. The ICA will debut a collection of audio works at this year’s festival, including the final projects made by students of its Levels Up Academy summer program and by Bob Paris, associate professor of kinetic imaging in the VCU School of the Arts.

“All of these things come together to make a unique experience,” I'Anson said. “And I think one of the reasons that we’re expecting so many more people is because those who took a chance on us last year really liked it and then told all of their podcast friends.”