Broadcast to podcast to Godcast: Streaming faith to Catholic ears
By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2006 (www.catholic.org) – If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear podcasts.
That seems to be today's adaptation of Jesus' familiar exhortation.
Podcasts are recordings that are prepared with actual radio broadcast material with one pair of ears in mind rather than a mass audience. The new venues are computers and iPods, the wildly popular personal music storage system. The term podcasting is derived from the iPod name.
For one online Christian podcast directory, the most popular podcasts by far are by a Catholic priest, the late Father Al Lauer. Before he died four years ago, he had made a number of recordings – before podcasts became all the rage.
A daily Scripture summary recorded by Father Lauer, who was the founder of Presentation Ministries in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, regularly gets more than 325 samplings, or "hits," a day on the Web site www.godcast1000.com. Listeners who have taken the time to rate it give it three stars out of a possible five.
Chris Jacek, webmaster for Presentation Ministries, said one of Father Lauer's first components of Presentation Ministries was a radio show. All of the tapes from close to 20 years of the show have been preserved, he added – and are still available on cassette tape and compact disc formats.
"Because there's so many years of broadcasts, we have (recordings) for all days of the liturgical year," Jacek said. "Someone goes back to refurbish them. We cut and paste certain parts together to get the correct prayers for the day and the correct readings." Presentation Ministries makes five new podcasts a week from the archived material.
Jacek said he didn't expect Father Lauer's 15-minute podcasts to become so popular so quickly. "I'm a bit surprised, but that's a relatively new site, so we have about 300 or so listeners per podcast," he added. "About half of them are regular subscribers."