State of Texas: In-Depth – Texas Tribune Festival


AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Texas Tribune Festival kicks off next Friday, bringing more than 200 speakers to the University of Texas to take on dozens of topics linked to Texas politics.

But that description does not do justice to Trib Fest. Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith offers this take: “I describe this as the Austin City Limits Music Festival for nerds.”

A look at the list of speakers backs up Smith’s description.  Trib Fest features one-on-one interview sessions with four presidential candidates from the 2016 cycle: Libertarian Gary Johnson, independent candidate Evan McMullin, and Republican primary candidates Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.  Smith, who interviewed President Obama during last year’s SXSW festival, will moderate three of those sessions.

The festival includes a track on education, featuring school superintendents like Dr. Paul Cruz from the Austin ISD and higher education leaders like Texas Tech Chancellor Robert Duncan and University of Texas President Greg Fenves.  Olympic track gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross joins a panel on college sports.  Music star Phil Collins will team up with Land Commissioner George P. Bush on a panel about the Alamo.

The variety of sessions forces festival attendees to make tough choices of what to see and what to miss – again, backing up Smith’s ACL Fest analogy.

“It’s the biggest lineup, the most speakers, the most sessions, the most immediate and pressing conversations and it has the most national and international scope,” Smith told Josh Hinkle during this week’s State of Texas: In-Depth.  Smith says Trib Fest has a larger mission, “… the fact is there need to be more conversations of this sort happening not only in Austin but in communities around the state of Texas.”

You can watch the full broadcast in the video above.  The Texas Tribune Festival runs from September 23rd to the 25th at the University of Texas. Tickets are still available.

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