Saturday, September 30, 2006

On Religious Podcasting

Brianna Bailey, the new religion reporter for the Norman Transcript, is off to a fine start with a story on the cutting edge of religious broadcasting. Her report on "From Pulpit to Ipod" covers the recent trend toward podcasting by local churches and ministries. Brianna questioned me about my podcasts of the "Religious Talk" radio program. Here's an excerpt:

Bruce Prescott, executive director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, based in Norman, started offering podcasts of his weekly religious radio show in February 2005. The podcasts primarily feature interviews with religious leaders and authors.

Hundreds of Internet surfers download the half-hour podcasts on Prescott's Web site. He has recorded anywhere from 50 to 500 downloads for each available podcast on his Web site.

Shorter podcasts of religious songs are even more popular. The theme song for Prescott's radio show, recorded by a local Christian artist, has been downloaded more than 5,000 times, he said.

"It started with me trying to figure out where the young people go," Prescott said. "It's amazing how it works. You put it up and it kind of goes by word of mouth. These people coming to the site could be from Turkey, from anywhere."

Prescott said he began his Web log about 2 and a half years ago.

He started including podcasts on the site when he realized the revolutionary impact the medium would have on religious broadcasting.

"When the iPod came out its was just a matter of me figuring out how to put the information in an mp3 format and finding cost-effective way to post it," Prescott said.

Prescott now pays $10 a month for unlimited downloads from his Web site, much cheaper than printing and mailing costs for sending out a newsletter, he said.

Prescott speculates most of the people downloading his podcasts are under age 30, because younger people have more fully embraced podcasting as a new medium for expression.

"There are a lot of younger people out there that don't know what Baptists are all about and the Internet is a vital part of reaching that audience," he said.
For those that are interested in that popular theme song, it's Ecclesiastes 3 by Nathan Brown and CrossSection.

For those interested in my most popular podcast, it's an interview with petroleum geologist Bob Stephenson about Peak Oil. Here's a follow-up podcast where Bob gives a more thorough discussion of the need to develop an energy policy that aggressively incorporates alternatives to petroleum based energy sources.

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