Podcasting: A Look Back

In Uncategorizedby tfwm

Over the past year I’ve listened to close to 250 hours of podcasts (I commute). In that time there were some really great sermons, a lot of learning, a few very entertaining moments, and some I wish had not been downloaded.

People are sharing their message with a personal computer, and broadcasting it to the far reaches of the globe. Millions of individuals combine and overlap to form all sorts of community ties circumventing culture, location, nationality, and in some cases, language.

Ministry has taken hold of podcasting, flourishing among youth and the middle-aged alike. To better serve you, TFWM brought you a year’s worth of podcasting how-to’s, dos and don’ts, as well as many great ideas for innovation. We brought in church communication experts as well as marketing specialists to talk about how to make the most of this thriving technology.
First we introduced podcasting to many of TFWM readers by answering a series of questions: What is podcasting? Who can listen? What kind of equipment does one need?’ What should one say?

We reported that it’s easier than it sounds if you know the basics. And once you set your first podcast up, only a minimal amount of regular attention is required. Starting with a bumper, the rest of it follows just like a sermon or a speech: (1)Prepare the audience for what will be said, (2)say it, and then (3)review what was said followed by another bumper. If you didn’t read the first article March ‘08, ‘bumper’ is a radio term referring to the momentary musical buffer to let a listener know that something is coming up or that something is changing. We also told the reader to avoid bad habits like saying ‘uh’ and ‘umm’ and to consider the audience when preparing the content. Did I mention that of those 250 hours of listening, there are (umm) a few hours (uh) I wish (uh) I could get back?

Then we looked to a few of my favorites and heard what a finished podcast actually sounds like. Grace to You, Truth for Life, and Bible Answer Man all followed the same pattern of sounding just like the radio broadcast for which they are known. Others like Passion, Engadget, and Relevant seemed to be able to put a podcast ‘show’ together that sounds professional and is heard in no place other than in podcast form.

Promoting and supporting your podcast with other media was a prime focus in the next article. By focusing on the different kinds of media to help promote the podcast, it has the potential of reaching more and more people. Not every author is a dynamic speaker or eloquent writer. But by varying the communication style, by making all of these mediums available, the author gives the highest probability of reaching an audience. We also saw an example of this very point when Pastor Lance Hahn posted both a blog and a podcast in September’s issue. Some people listened, some read. Few did both.

Later in the year we discussed how to clean up and publish the podcast once it was mostly finished. File types are to be considered both in compression type and delivery method. Determining whether or not to include video is also important, since many devices do not include video playback and so you run the risk of alienating a certain sector of your audience.

Our next article was to follow a Pastor as he tried podcasting for the very first time. From inception to fruition we walked through the journey of a podcasting pastor. I sat with him and his multimedia director as we plotted out a month’s worth of podcasts and blogs.

More recently we took a look at whether a ministry podcast should exist as evangelism or resource. This raises an important choice to make. There is no right answer but should be decided well in advance of your first podcast.
The future looks bright for ministry podcasts as two important factors come into play: (1) The model for commercial podcasts is limited and (2) The technology is only getting less expensive.

Many podcasts are free and only a handful of them have sponsors. This is a good sign. It means that ministry podcasts can continue to flourish with low budgets and low tech. It’s a medium that survives on passionate ideas, it doesn’t need all the flashy ads and polished recording techniques. It reminds me a lot of HAM radio, except without the social stigma.

With these articles, I wanted to get across that it’s not the ‘method’ of the message, it is the people reached as a result. Podcasting is a tool just like any technology. I hope you’ve enjoyed these articles and I also hope that you continue to podcast, blog, Twitter, and otherwise promote your ministries with innovative and meaningful impact.