[Pittsburgh City Paper] Is there a thriving podcast scene in Pittsburgh?
By Amanda Waltz
As a kid, Sean Koon dreamed of having a career in radio like Howard Stern. But Koon set that goal aside when he realized how much work was involved.
“I found out [that] to be Howard Stern, you have to earn it,” says Koon, who now lives in Elizabeth borough. “And I thought, 'well, I’m not going to do drive time in Sheboygan playing country music.'”
Then he discovered the ease of podcast production. Koon started the Pittsburgh Nerd Podcast, and over the last five and half years has posted weekly episodes where he and co-host Ian Bellamy cover all things pop culture, from movie news and reviews to comics to celebrity deaths.
Pittsburgh Nerd Podcast is one amongst a diverse array of podcasts being produced by people with a lot to say about a variety of subjects, including horror movies, true crime, and, in the case of I Got the Hell Out, life in a religious cult.
But despite the growing popularity of podcasts over the years, Koon wonders if anyone is actually listening.
“Unless you have your ear to the ground and you’re specifically looking for podcasts, you wouldn’t know there was a Pittsburgh podcast community,” says Koon.
His sentiment is echoed by Brian Crawford of The River’s Edge, a Millvale-based streaming radio company that partly started out as a podcast in Crawford’s attic closet. Even though he sees the Pittsburgh podcast scene as being very collaborative, with many producers working together and promoting one another, more needs to be done to support it.
“I think it’s a really talented part of the Pittsburgh arts community, but I don’t think it has the recognition that it needs,” he says.
To raise awareness of the city’s podcast scene, The River’s Edge joined forces with the podcast network, Sorgatron Media, to launch the first-ever Pittsburgh Pod Con. Sponsored by Sidekick Media Services, the event invites podcasters from the region to participate in International Podcast Day; an annual celebration meant to connect producers, listeners, and industry leaders from all over the world.
More than 30 area podcasts will be represented at the event, with several staging live shows. Pod Con will also showcase the city’s podcast scene on the world stage with a live broadcast of a panel led by Crawford and featuring Sorgatron Media founder, Michael Sorg, Katie Dudas of the ScareHouse Podcast, Mike Sasson of The River’s Edge’s Mike Sasson Show, Corey Nevills of the B-Movie Bros, and Kahmeela Adams of the RuggedAngel Cast.
Adams started RuggedAngel Cast as a way to strengthen and build better relationships with women in her life. Like Koon and Crawford, she also wishes the Pittsburgh podcast scene was more connected.
“There are a few podcasters that I know of here, but it seems there many more that I'm not aware of,” she says. “We should all be talking to [and] promoting one another.”
Crawford hopes that Pod Con not only helps local podcasts network with one another, but puts Pittsburgh on the map as a prominent podcast city. “We have so many fantastic podcasters here and I think this is a way [to] let people know that Pittsburgh’s here and we’re doing this,” says Crawford.
Follow senior A&E writer Amanda Waltz on Twitter @AWaltzCP