Pod peo­ple

The in­au­gu­ral At­lantic Pod­cast Sum­mit brings to­gether mak­ers and lis­ten­ers this week­end.


At­lantic Pod­cast Sum­mit May 3-5 Hal­i­fax Con­ven­tion Cen­tre, 1650 Argyle Street at­lanticpod­cast­sum­mit.com

In the first and only me­dia interview with would-be mass killer Lind­say Sou­van­narath, she de­scribes choos­ing a lo­ca­tion: “One of the ideas he threw out there was a hos­pi­tal... I kind of said that sounded fun, but I didn’t re­ally think that in my heart... one lo­ca­tion that I ended up agree­ing to was a mall, which we all know turned out to be the Hal­i­fax Shop­ping Cen­tre.”

Sou­van­narath, who cur­rently has lawyers in court ar­gu­ing that her life sen­tence is too harsh, speaks with ca­sual de­tach­ment, like she’s talk­ing about a trip to an amuse­ment park. Lis­ten­ers learn she is a deeply dis­turbed in­di­vid­ual who lacks any re­morse or em­pa­thy. It is a por­trait not yet seen in main­stream ac­counts of the foiled shooting spree. “It didn’t re­ally seem to bother her,” says her in­ter­viewer. “I didn’t ex­pect her to be as cold and straight­for­ward as she was about it.” The interview can be heard on The Night

time Pod­cast, a Cana­dian true crime se­ries pro­duced and hosted in Cape Bre­ton by Jor­dan Bon­a­parte, who’ll be on a panel Satur­day called How to Cut Above the Noise. Bon­a­parte says pod­cast­ing is a unique form that al­lows niche top­ics to be ex­plored in ways the main­stream can’t, or won’t. For him, it’s “a cre­ative out­let to ex­plore strange and un­usual things that hap­pen.” Niche top­ics can garner huge au­di­ences. Bon­a­parte’s show has been down­loaded seven mil­lion times since he started.

One in five Cana­di­ans lis­tens to a pod­cast ev­ery week. ( Night­time is one of more than 150 pod­casts made in At­lantic Canada.) So the time is ripe for the At­lantic Pod­cast Sum­mit, run­ning May 3 to 5. “The sum­mit’s re­ally de­signed for cre­ators and fans of pod­cast­ing,” says James Boyle, a sum­mit co-founders. “It’s a place where you can come and en­joy and learn about pod­cast­ing.”

The sum­mit is wel­com­ing cre­ators, fans, pro­duc­ers and re­searchers to come to­gether. There’s a pitch con­test, a pro­duc­tion work­shop and panel dis­cus­sions. “As medi­ums de­velop, I think pod­cast­ing is hit­ting its stride,” says Boyle. He agrees the nar­row fo­cus of pod­casts sets them apart from tra­di­tional ra­dio— in­ti­macy and au­ton­omy are part of the appeal. “The im­por­tant thing about pod­casts is that they speak to a par­tic­u­lar per­son,” he says, “they tend to not be broad sub­jects, but re­ally spe­cific to an idea, whether it’s a pod­cast on knit­ting or a pod­cast on en­trepreneur­ship.”

Veron­ica Simmonds is a pod­caster and pro­ducer who works with CBC. She will be part of a panel on the art of the nar­ra­tive pod­cast on Satur­day. She be­lieves pod­cast­ing is a wel­come ad­di­tion to a long tra­di­tion of au­dio sto­ry­telling. “Ra­dio and pod­cast­ing is ac­tu­ally the most vis­ual medium,” says Simmonds, “be­cause we’re plant­ing images in peo­ples’ minds, and en­cour­ag­ing them to come into new worlds with us.”

The grow­ing list of of­fer­ings means there’s something for ev­ery­one. Simmonds pro­duces Tai Asks Why, hosted by a 12-year-old boy ask­ing big ques­tions. “There’s so many peo­ple who are fall­ing in love with pod­casts right now,” she says.

“I think pod­cast­ing, one way or an­other, is gonna be the fu­ture,” says Bon­a­parte. “But I don’t know what shape it’s gonna take.”

If you want a glimpse of it, be sure to check out the At­lantic Pod­cast Sum­mit.


Simmonds will speak on Satur­day.

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