AUSTIN (KXAN)– The Texas Tribune Festival is set to return to Austin on September 22 – 24. The festival has become an essential event for key players in state politics, but it’s also expanded to include people on the national political stage. More than 260 people are scheduled to speak as part of panels over the three days of the festival.
Texas Tribune co-founder and CEO Evan Smith spoke about the festival Sunday morning on KXAN’s State of Texas. He pointed with pride to a September 24th panel featuring Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz together in conversation. “These are not two people who necessarily share a stage appearing on the same stage together,” Smith said. “We’ve pulled off something that I equate to having Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis back together for one night in Las Vegas.”
This year, the festival is also featuring a Podcast track – where you can check out live recordings of shows on different topics. Actor and comedian Larry Wilmore is bringing his “Black on the Air” podcast to the festival.
He’ll interview Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards. Journalist Dan Rather will be interviewed live for an episode of the “Recode Decode podcast.” NPR’s is bringing it’s “On The Media” radio show to the festival.
Host Brooke Gladstone will interview Texas Republican congressman Will Hurd and Democrat Beto O’Rourke together for the program.
Smith says he’s particularly excited about two themes of this year’s Texas Tribune Festival. “One is Year One under Donald Trump. We have an entire track of content looking at what live in America and life in Texas is in certain key areas under Donald Trump,” Smith said. The other is a track on politics and the news media. “Everybody is thinking about politics and the press,” Smith explained. “So, we have an entire track of content about accountability journalism, and disruption and why Texas newspapers matter now.”
Some people say the Texas Tribune Festival is like the Austin City Limits Music Festival – but for political nerds. But Smith says more people need to pay attention. “Every single decision, every policy area affects every single Texan. By virtue of being a Texan, this stuff matters. By virtue of being a Texan, you’ll be interested in this kind of a conversation, because the byproduct of those decisions really materially affects your life.”
Tickets are still available for the festival. You can find more information here.