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5 LA Podcast Festival shows that will blow your mind

This weekend marks five years of the Los Angeles Podcast Festival, aka L.A. Podfest. They've been presenting live editions of the shows that get everyone through their commutes, or just those times they're bored.

Festival founders Dave Anthony, Graham Elwood and Chris Mancini have been doing it as podcasts have continued to become more mainstream (thanks, Apple Podcasts app!), but that also means increased competition. Just a month from now, the Now Hear This podcast festival is debuting in Anaheim — and it's a festival with a big corporate backer that also owns the Midroll podcast network.

"There's a million film festivals around the country, and I don't think they're getting hurt by the competition," Anthony told KPCC. "Now Hear This is a little more geared toward one company, and I think that we're just trying to bring in the best podcasts from all over."

5 Podfest podcasts to start with

Both Anthony and Elwood said they're always trying to find the hot new thing, while also bringing back podcasts that fans know and love. Here are five shows Dave and Graham suggest you check out:

My Favorite Murder

This show features comedian Karen Kilgariff and Cooking Channel host Georgia Hardstark discussing their favorite true crime stories, as well as hearing hometown crime stories from their friends and fans.

"This year we have My Favorite Murder, which is kind of exploding on the scene," Anthony said. "And that's one that's just been around for a couple months. So we always try to have that sort of fresh new thing. Because I think the fans want to find new podcasts, as well as see the old ones that they really enjoy."

Everything's Coming Up Podcast!

A smaller show that's coming to the festival this year, it features comedians Allie Goertz and Julia Prescott reviewing and talking about "The Simpsons" in enough depth to make Comic Book Guy happy.

"Because they're based in L.A., they've gotten amazing interviews with writers, and voice actors, and producers from that show," Elwood told KPCC. "And it's like, I think it's a fantastic show, and I want more people to learn about that."

Welcome To Night Vale

A show with a huge fan base, it tells a twisted story in the form of community broadcasting updates for the small town of Night Vale — a place that feels like "Twin Peaks" meets a jauntier version of "The X-Files." Podfest's founders didn't know what they were in for when they first bright the podcast to the festival.

"The first year 'Welcome To Night Vale' really took off, they had a very young audience when they first started, and so we had them on a Friday," Anthony said. "So it's about a 6 p.m. show, and all of the sudden, all these 16-year-old girls show up, and they're all dressed up in characters, and we had no idea what was happening."

The Dollop

Anthony's own show, this one examines the most ridiculous, little-known parts of American history. They're stories that you won't believe and almost no one remembers.

Comedy Film Nerds

The show hosted by Elwood and Mancini, it covers both comedy and film. The hosts are both comedians and filmmakers. Their marquee guest for their Podfest show: Wil Wheaton, geek icon of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and playing himself on "The Big Bang Theory" fame, as well as being an outspoken advocate for tabletop gaming.

The festival's superhero origin story

The festival started thanks to fans of Anthony's previous podcast "Walking The Room" demanding he and co-host Greg Behrendt do a live show. They did, and people flew from around the world to be there.

"I just thought, 'There's something here that could be bigger,'" Anthony said.

He contacted Elwood and Anthony, Elwood and Mancini started working together on the festival. Anthony said that it's changed his life.

"I basically had no career when I started my podcast. I was pretty much washed up and done," Anthony said.

Now Anthony has been able to develop an audience, while Elwood has directed a documentary about podcasting after raising $140,000 on Kickstarter.

You can buy a ticket to see 40 different podcasts this Friday through Sunday at L.A. Podfest at the Sofitel hotel in Beverly Hills. You can also buy a ticket to be one of the expected close to 10,000 people watching the livestream online at LAPodfest.com — and watch out for episodes from the festival to eventually be released on various podcasts.

Last year's highlights

More interview highlights

Why someone who doesn't know anything about podcasts should come

The problems with livestreaming

Giving podcasters opportunities