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ARKAST Wrap Up and Future

The Arkansas Podcast Festival was an amazing moment for Arkansas and the founders of Arkansas Podcast Collaborative are hopeful for what's to come.

There are very rare moments in world history that change how the billions of people across the planet communicate and understand our many languages. These monumental still frames in time can be traced back to being the new beginning of how we receive news to inform us and stories to inspire or teach us.

Media and its creation is undoubtedly the most influential powerhouse to have ever existed. It has taken so many forms like a shapeshifter. It's an everyday household word across the world, particularly when talking about social media. Everyone understands that that term means and has an emotional reaction to it, knowing its power and most likely having felt its power. When a new media is created, a new tool is available for anyone who dares to wield it and learn its power. Arkansas has a long history of being a late adopter of new media.

The first newspaper produced in the United States was in 1704 in Boston, MA.

The first newspaper produced in Arkansas was in 1819, 115 years later. (Arkansas was not considered a state until 1836, for the record)

The first film produced in the United States was in 1889.

The first film produced in Arkansas was in 1928, 29 years later.

The first commercial radio program in the United States was in 1920.

The first commercial radio program in Arkansas was in 1922, just 2 years later.

The first television program produced in the United States was in 1928 in New York.

The first television program produced in Arkansas was in 1953, 25 years later.

The first podcasts produced in the United States were in 2004 but popularized in 2014.

It's not really known when the first podcast was produced in Arkansas, but there is such a visible growth in interest and it's safe to say no one has reached fame or able to podcast as a full time career. Much like the rest of the Natural State, there is potential and diamonds to be found.

ARKAST was the first podcast festival in the state last year and only spanned three and a half hours on a Thursday afternoon in North Little Rock. This year we ambitiously took on a major task of providing a week of free workshops and 2 major ticketed events that pulled in speakers from across the country to share in their love for podcasting and what it can do.

There was so much energy, time, and emotion poured into each of these events to make sure that it was both entertaining and educational while building bridges and opening doors for anyone who was looking for an opportunity to use there voice. Our team and board worked tirelessly on each of the dates which sometimes hosted 2 events back to back. To say we were exhausted at the end of each day is an understatement. Tension rose, we argued a little, and reconvened to make up to keep marching forth in our mission. Part of doing anything that is worthwhile with other people is working through your gaps in communication and learning how to operate together in unison.

What we found across each event was a portion of our population that are so eager to make a change for themselves and push Arkansas forward as a state that they overcame any obstacle to be be in a seat when the doors opened and some even ventured on stage to tell a group of strangers what their idea is for an amazing podcast. Some poured their hearts out and made the crowd shed some tears like our Podcast Pitch Contest winner.

We also discovered a very large group of people scattered hundreds of miles apart from coast to coast that were willing to help in any way possible just for the passion of it and being able to be in the company of likeminded dreamers. Arielle Nissenblatt flew to Little Rock from New York just to join us for a couple of days. Tim Street stayed in Arkansas longer than he intended because he found out about what were doing and volunteered to help during is visit from California. Volunteers like La'Tonia Holmes traveled with us across the state. That's incredible and so valuable to us as an organization but also has a group of people who have decided to try to make a movement that will change Arkansas history.

Across the month of September, we were featured on three news stations, covered by a dozen print outlets, and made the cover of the Arkansas Talk Business and Politics October issue. While it's difficult to encapsulate every molecule of September into a single recap blog post, there is one things that we have no restraints about: our gratitude for all of you who supported us. Without you, it would be like jumping off the stage to crowd surf and landing flat on our faces. You have been there with emails, calls, texts, volunteering, advising, and carrying us everywhere that we need to be for the next step and the next step and the next.

The typical thing for any organization to say about their own event is that it was a massive success because they raised so much money or they had such a huge crowd, but for us, we found the fellow soldiers who will join us in this podcast revolution. That support of teaching and learning from each other while providing resources, picking each other up to keep moving forward and having a blast while doing it. That's why we started the Arkansas Podcast Collaborative and at the time we had a feeling that you all were out there but didn't really know until we took the leap. You showed up in droves and have made us so much better on the other side of ARKAST.

To close these thoughts, I want to emphasize the importance of the work you are doing when you collaborate with us. There are millions of incredible stories, talents, and creative minds in Arkansas that have just needed a platform that is only as difficult as you want to make it. Podcasting is so versatile and has such a low barrier to entry that it's the perfect tool to amplify these voices. I'm preaching to the choir if you're reading this, but I want you to know how important you are in pushing this state forward in how it communicates with the rest of the world.

One last thing. We learned from all of you across every event, sat down and had conversations with many of you to hear what your pain points are and what excites you. We listened and have been working on a few things that we are going to offer that will make your podcasting journey much smoother and potentially allow you to build a career around it. Sorry to be so vague and cryptic, but amazing things are coming. Also, the ARKAST podcast will be changing formats to be seasons with a limited number of episodes that are highly produced. We can't wait to reveal more details soon.

You have already done so much but if you are looking for other ways to help, we have quite a few. We still have plenty of ARKAST 2023 t-shirts and stickers available if you would like purchase something to support us. Just fill out the contact form and we will get your orders out to you. Please keep submitting podcasts that are not already listed in our podcast directory, sharing our content on social media, and giving us feedback.

Oh, and don't be surprised when we start announcing some things for ARKAST 2024.

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