Rooster Teeth Pumps up the Volume With New Podcasts at RTX Austin
The media giant adds some fodder for your headphones
The underdog success story of Rooster Teeth is now legend. What began as a band of friends drunkenly playing video games in an Austin bedroom has mutated into a multimillion-dollar digital media giant. This year marks the ninth annual RTX convention, which in the past has offered animation, gaming, and comedy experiences intended to bridge like-minded audiences from across the Rooster Teeth community. For the first time, the Austin studio is shining a new light on their podcasting expertise – and that of a diverse array of partner podcasts – at the inaugural RTX Podcast Festival.
So, why bring podcast programming to RTX now? "I think the timing is right," RT co-founder Gus Sorola said. "It's really hotter than ever, which I can't believe I'm saying in 2019. And we've been bolstered by the success of the animation festival and running these almost sub-festivals within the RTX umbrella – it just seems like podcasting is the next logical step."
Although this podcast programming is a new addition to RTX, Rooster Teeth has been in the podcast game for 11 years. According to Sorola, the RT Podcast started back in 2008 – "before Barack Obama took office," he laughed, "to contextualize how long ago that was." Community demand was why the show started, and continuous community engagement has been the key to keeping it vital. Sorola recalled an incessant interruption from a fan during recording that turned into an impromptu, on-air conversation. "That seemed like the initial spark," he said. "Then from there it just grew; we saw that there was definitely an appetite within the audience."
"It's a way to peel back the curtain and see a real side of us that's unproduced," said RT Business Development Manager AJ Feliciano. "[Fans] see Gus and [co-founder Burnie Burns] from a one-way directional entertainment standpoint and the podcasts become a great way to have a two-way conversation."
Since the birth of that flagship podcast, RT has continued to create new shows as unique voices have emerged within the company over the years. The studio now produces five different shows that tap into different niches of the millions-strong RT fanbase: Always Open, Off Topic, Dude Soup, On the Spot, and the RT Podcast.
With the RTX Podcast Festival, RT is looking to engage not only with their own audience, but also a lineup of six featured special guest podcasts: This Might Get Weird, The Valleycast, Dead Meat, The Eavesdrop Podcast, Internet Today's Weekly Weird News, and Mile Higher Podcast. Each taps into a different neighboring niche of entertainment, each with its own unique brand and established populace that intersect with RT culture. "We started [with] something that was very video game-centric," Sorola said. "Now it's just about tacking on all these ancillary interests, expanding it and growing it out."
"Really, these podcasting audiences are communities in and of themselves," Feliciano added. "Our company was built off the idea of community, and so when we went to these particular creators, there was a rhyme and reason to it. They had great communities that cross-pollinate against Rooster Teeth's; we knew the value of theirs, they knew the value of ours, and so it just felt like a real natural fit. We're just super excited because we're giving our communities something new but something that we know they're going to gravitate to."
This Might Get WeirdSunday, 4:30pm, Meeting Room 9
Grace Helbig and Mamrie Hart are seasoned YouTube vets whose friendship has stood the tests of time and unforgiving algorithms, attracting audiences with their relatable personalities and a kind of clumsy charm that makes you feel like you've known them since grade school. On This Might Get Weird, Helbig and Hart discuss the day-to-day, which for them means equal parts nonsense and common sense taken in stride with cocktails and self-deprecating humor.*+
The ValleycastSunday, 2pm, Meeting Room 16
What does a band of ex-SourceFed hosts do when that corporate YouTube goliath collapses? They valiantly reunite as the Valleyfolk to deliver a grab bag of comedic content through an array of media outlets, including the appropriately named Valleycast. Each week, hosts Joe Bereta, Elliott Morgan, Steve Zaragoza, and Lee Newton, plus a revolving door of influencers and celebrities, explore the entertainment world with the kind of seasoned perspective and chaotic humor that only emerges when you've been through the YouTube equivalent of the Stone Age.*
Dead MeatSunday, 3:30pm, Meeting Room 16
Trust James Janisse and Chelsea Rebecca to never ever spare you the gory details. Every Tuesday, they review both classic and contemporary horror movies, from widely loved slasher flicks like Halloween to new-age innovations like Us. They also flex their trivia muscles with games like "Marry, F*ck, Get Killed By" and occasionally interview guests to discuss intriguing topics such as transgender representation in horror films.*+
The Eavesdrop PodcastSunday, 12:30pm, Meeting Room 16
An e-sports show fueled by interviews with an extensive array of influencers in the e-sports community, including high-level industry executives and acclaimed championship gamers. Every week, hear Hector "H3CZ" Rodriguez (owner and CEO of OpTic Gaming) meets with competitive gaming pioneers to discuss business and tech developments that are shaping the industry's future.*+
Internet Today – Weekly Weird NewsSunday, 11am, Meeting Room 16
Every day, Ricky Hayberg and Eliot Dewberry of Internet Today reach into the far-flung corners of the web to deliver – you guessed it – a grab bag of weird news that you probably wouldn't even find in Buzzfeed clickbait. With their increasingly unpredictable content and seemingly unending reservoir of sardonicism, Internet Today is as spontaneous and lawless as the internet itself.*+
Mile Higher PodcastSunday, 3pm, Meeting Room 9
Skeptics beware, we're breaking out the tinfoil hats for this one. Husband and wife duo Josh Thomas and Kendall Rae bring you the love child of Ancient Aliens and your favorite Netflix true crime documentary with the Mile Higher Podcast. Every Monday, the couple releases two hours of discussion tackling everything from serial killers and UFOs to CGI Instagram influencers and Atlantis. They're open-minded, easygoing, and in case you couldn't tell from the marijuana grinder with their logo emblazoned on it, they're from Denver.*+
* Available on major streaming platforms
+ Available on YouTube
Rooster Teeth presents RTX Austin 2019 July 5-9, Austin Convention Center. RTX Podcast Festival runs July 6-7. Admission included in RTX badges and tickets. More info at www.rtxevent.com.