Sunday, November 19, 2017
News Roundup

Documentary by champion of Florida podcasting showcases their rising power

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TAMPA

If you have a voice and desire to teach, entertain or inspire, Chris Krimitsos has a message for you — start a podcast and people will listen.

With that simple creed, and through a group he founded called the Florida Podcasters Association, Krimitsos has helped others launch more than 100 podcasts across the Tampa Bay area over the past three years. And he's done it all for free.

Now, Krimitsos is taking his movement worldwide with a documentary he produced on the power of the medium.

Titled The Messengers: A Podcast Documentary, the film follows podcasters in the United States, Puerto Rico and Guatemala who started out on their own without the backing of some major media company. Among its stars are the podcasters' many avid fans.

His hope is that after watching the documentary, viewers will be moved to start their own online broadcasts.

"Podcasting is more than talking into a microphone," said Krimitsos, 39, who interviews inspirational figures on his own program, Story Jam Theatre.

"It is a human connection, it is having a message that can touch people, share knowledge or bring laughter. We wanted to visualize this audio medium."

The film was the No. 1 downloaded documentary on iTunes the day it was released, Wednesday, and overall it was among the top 20 new releases of the week, ranked alongside films such as Rough Night starring Scarlett Johansson.

With or without the documentary, podcasting will continue to grow, Krimitsos says.

According to polling group Edison Research, 67 million Americans download at least one podcast a month — an increase of nearly 30 million since 2014.

Still, Krimitsos wants his film to remind people you don't need the backing of podcast giants like NPR or ESPN with their millions of downloads per episode to host one.

"It's not only about monetization," he said. "It's about heart and soul."

This philosophy is reflected in many podcasts featured in the documentary, including The Colon Cancer Podcast hosted by Lee Silverstein, an Auburndale man who has been fighting the disease for six years and started his show three years ago.

Every other week, Silverstein interviews a cancer patient or survivor or someone from the medical industry. All are asked to share stories of hope.

"I wanted to start a podcast that shared human stories," Silverstein said.

His podcast averages 2,000 downloads per episode and has listeners in 70 countries. They thank him on a regular basis for providing uplifting messages.

Silverstein attributes his podcast's success to the Podcasters Association, founded by Krimitsos as a place where podcasters can get together to promote and improve one another's work.

Silverstein attended a meeting on a whim, came up with the idea for his show that night then met individuals willing to help get the podcast started.

Krimitsos' interest in podcasts arises from the work of his wife Katie Krimitsos, who hosts the female entrepreneurship program Biz Women Rock!

Once she started getting feedback from other countries, he realized the potential of podcasts and founded the networking group.

Members share both technical and marketing expertise. Around 60 to 100 podcasters with all levels of experience meet at 6:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month in the IHOP restaurant at 4910 W Spruce St.

"Tampa has become a podcast hotbed thanks to the association," said member Nile Nickel, who hosts the show Social Media Business Hour.

Nickel said the association has easily helped launch more than 120 podcasts.

"Chris is the straw that stirs the drink in Tampa's podcast community," said Eric Odum, host of Invest Florida, also started with the aid of the association.

In 2015, Krimitsos founded Podfest — an annual conference that last year drew more than 500 podcasters. It was then he decided to produce The Messengers.

"At heart that is what we all are," Krimitsos said. "We have messages we are dying to get out."

Contact Paul Guzzo at pguzzo@tampabay.com. Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

"Podcasting is more than talking into a microphone. It is a human connection, it is having a message that can touch people, share knowledge or bring laughter."

Chris Krimitsos

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