Podcasts tend to offer a solitary experience. We often listen with headphones on our ears—alone.
But a new event at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn this weekend hopes to change all of that. On Air: The Podcast Experience brings some of the most popular podcasts to life through immersive theater and quirky activities like temporary tattoos, a collective playlist, puzzles and even a chance to ponder life’s deepest questions. The event runs from February 23-26 and tickets cost $39-$49.
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Led by Jemma Brown and Scott Newman, the event explores “the idea of touching sound, entering sound,” as Brown put it.
“The seed of the idea is that we all listen alone,” Newman said during the event’s launch party last night. “Yet we’re at a time when we want to be coming together. Right now what we’re doing is creating memories, creating experiences.”
The On Air team collaborated with five popular podcasts—Radiolab, On Being, Object of Sound, The Heart, and My Favorite Murder—to create the experience. Each podcast took over a hotel room with an experience fitting to its theme. Behind every door on the seventh floor of the Wythe Hotel, there’s a story waiting to be heard.
For example, the My Favorite Murder room includes props related to the show, a themed puzzle and tattoos emblazoned with the hosts’ catchphrases (think: “stay sexy and don’t get murdered” and “toxic masculinity ruins the party again”). Of course, clips from the show play in the background. The room is constructed as a reference to the “pod loft” where creators Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark first recorded the show in 2016.
When you open the door to the On Being room, you’ll be greeted with a blank sheet of paper where you can write a deep question and add it to the chandelier of questions hanging in the room. You’ll also get to pull a question to ponder from the ones suspended in the room. Some of the questions posed so far include: “how can I find my footing in a shifting world?” and “is there more value in following your dreams or getting the capital to chase your passion?”
In the Object of Sound experience, music fills the room as curated by the podcast’s host Hanif Abdurraqib. Check out artifacts from the show, flip through vinyl and add your musical choice to the participatory living playlist. You can even record a message that might be shared on the show.
Meanwhile, in the Radiolab room, you’ll get to explore the history of the universe guided by the host’s voices and an Emily Dickinson poem sung by the musician Joan as Police Woman. Down the hall in The Heart’s Staycation room, you’ll hear the real-life whispers of a couple whose audio was recorded on a recent stay in the hotel room.
In addition to the immersive experience, podcast fans can also attend world premieres, exclusive presentations, live tapings and more from Audie Cornish and Kara Swisher; Normal Gossip; Slowburn: Roe v Wade; On Being with Krista Tippett and Dr. Vivek Murthy; Mobituaries with Mo Rocca and Dead Eyes‘ Connor Ratliff; People’s Party with Talib Kweli, Craig Finn and Kevin Morby; Not Lost with Brendan Francis Newnam and John Cameron Mitchell and more. Here’s the full schedule of activities. Note that these events are separately ticketed and not included with general admission to the immersive experience.
This is the seventh year for On Air fest, but the first offering The Podcast Experience, so if you’re a friend of the pod, remove your headphones and head to the Wythe Hotel this weekend.
Experience On Air: The Podcast Experience from Feb. 23-26 at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn. Budget about 90 minutes for the experience. Tickets cost $39-$49.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.