AUSTIN, Texas — When podcasting stars gathered March 11 at the South by Southwest Interactive conference to discuss the challenges facing their medium, the lack of diversity among creative talents in podcasting — especially the dearth of women in hosting roles — was cited among the most perplexing problems.
A Feb. 26 editorial by Third Coast Audio Festival Director Julie Shapiro provided impetus for the discussion among a panel of four podcasters — each with ties to public media in the U.S. and Britain and one of whom was female. In her commentary published last month by Transom, Shapiro questioned why only 20 of the top 100 iTunes podcasts are hosted by women. “There’s literally no barrier to entry, so I don’t know what that’s about,” said Roman Mars, creator and host of 99% Invisible, a podcast and pubradio series. Public media, which supports many of the most popular podcasts on iTunes, has a strong history of nurturing female talent, he said. He pointed out that the Third Coast Festival’s Award for Best New Artist has gone to a man only once in the past 10 years.