Coco Verde performs during the Never Better Acoustic Sessions. Photo by Alexa Hoyer

In recent years the industry of podcasting has experienced exponential growth, ushering in another golden age of audio. At the forefront of exploring the audio art industry is New York City’s Brooklyn-based On Air Fest. Now in its third year, On Air Fest is a weekend long series of events dedicated to “exploring storytelling and creativity in sound.” For three days, live recordings, talks, art installations, performances and networking events take over multiple spaces inside the Wythe Hotel, a converted 117-year old waterfront factory building. The festival, which runs from March 1st through March 3rd, aims to bring together listeners, fans, podcasters, artists, musicians and storytellers to network, learn about and enhance the future of audio.

If you are an Untapped Cities Insider, you can attend this weekend event for free! Not an Insider yet? Become a member today to gain access to free behind-the-scenes tours and special New York City events all year long!

On Air Fest started in 2017 as a pop-up streaming radio lounge broadcasted out of the public lobby of Wythe Hotel. On Air Fest founder Scott Newman says, “On Air Fest was born out of our belief in the power of the human voice. We are part of a movement of artists and journalists who are using podcasting to tell urgent stories.” Since the first festival, the event has grown to accomodate more different types of events, more presenters, and more guests. This year, the festival will encompass over 100 creators and performers and 50 hours of live programming over three three days in five unique spaces.

Writer Ashley C. Ford breaks down her favorite movie sex scenes. Photo by Victor Garzon

New York City itself has always been an integral part of the festival. “Our core team is made of born-and-raised New Yorkers. We draw inspiration from movements that originated here like the birth of Hip Hop and Punk Rock, and from the present day shifting cultural landscape of the city. New York is recognized as the media capital of the world, and for podcasting this is true as well. Podcast listening and creating is as its apex here. It’s tangible. You can feel it,” says Newman.

Brittany Luce in conversation with Dylan Marron. Photo by Alexa Hoyer

The Wythe Hotel has also served as more of a partner than just a place in which to hosts the festival. Built in the early 1900’s as a cooperage, or barrel factory, and later serving as a textile factory and warehouse, in 2012 the Wythe  became Williamsburg’s first hotel. The building retains most of its original architecture and industrial characteristics like an old conveyer belt in the lobby which now functions as “found art.” “We are deeply aligned with the creative ethos of the Wythe Hotel. It is more than just a venue for our event,” Newman notes. “We are based in Brooklyn and share Wythe’s commitment to uplift the borough’s cultural history. The hotel makes space to nurture artists and cultivate a creative culture.” In addition to the festival’s multiple days of programming, which take place in various spaces of the hotel, two On Air Fest Artists-In-Residents get to stay in the hotel for five days. During that time the artists create unique works that are presented at the festival.

Hotel guests are part of the festival too! As part of the festival’s Last Sounds of the Day project, original bedtime stories created by On Air Fest artists are presented in each hotel room. This year, hotel guests can drift off to a “musical dreamscape” composed by The Antlers’ Peter Silberman.

Poet Joekenneth Museau sits down with longtime friends fashion designer Tamika Wilkins, photographers Daniel Randal and Jeremy Mitchell, and creative director Ludget Delcy aka Dapper Lou. Photo by Scott Newman

This year’s festival has an exciting and diverse line-up of participants. “We program the festival to showcase people who we believe are changing the culture of audio. We’re proud to present a range performances, intimate talks, stories, listening parties and live podcasts that highlight emerging voices, queer voices, women of color and creators from different creative practices,” says Newman. “This year’s lineup highlights our commitment to celebrating the creative vanguard, empowering new artists, and exploring the edges of creativity in the medium.”

Artist Laurie Anderson wakes up the audience with a group scream. Photo by Victor Garzon

Over the three day festival guests can hear from the makers of hit podcasts like Missing Richards Simmons, storytellers from media companies like Vice and ESPN, watch unique performances from the likes of Peter Silberman and Nicholas Principe, and James & Jerome, experience immersive art installations and interact with likeminded people at networking breakfasts. Newman hopes that attendees will “feel energized to make new work, find collaborators and ultimately get inspired by exploring sound.”

You can purchase single-day or three-day passes and check out the full line-up of event’s at On Air Fest’s website here. If you are an Untapped Cities Insider, you can attend this weekend event for free! Not an Insider yet? Become a member today to gain access to free behind-the-scenes tours and special New York City events all year long!

Next, check out 10 Historic Buildings in NYC Repurposed for the Arts

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