Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

College Park

Newcomers To Catholic Podcasts Must Find Passion, Presenters Say

By STEPHEN O’KANE, Staff Writer | Published July 3, 2008

During the Catholic New Media Celebration, two separate presentations were given on the subject of podcasts, a Web-based audio broadcast and a new and relatively easy way to become involved in the new media.

Father Roderick Vonhögen, host of the Daily Breakfast and Catholic Insider podcasts and known by some as the original podcasting priest, led a presentation on how to get started in podcasting to go along with the demonstrations that experts were providing outside the exhibition hall at the Georgia International Convention Center. Several hundred people took part in the new media event June 22, which followed the annual Eucharistic Congress of the Archdiocese of Atlanta held June 20-21. The new media event was hosted by Star Quest Production Network.

Assisted by an informative PowerPoint display, Father Vonhögen showed the crowd “Catholic Podcasting in Seven Easy Steps.”

The first suggestion the Dutch priest offered for anyone interested in starting a podcast was to “pick your passion.”

“You have to ask yourself, ‘What is my passion,’” Father Vonhögen told the crowd. He emphasized that people will be drawn to your passion about a subject and others will be turned off if you speak about something in which you are not very interested.

The priest continued through the steps, encouraging new podcasters to discern who they are trying to reach and to learn how to speak to their audience. Listening to established podcasts is also a good way to learn how to arrange a program, according to the priest.

But he also said that a podcaster should “not be afraid to be yourself.” This is an effective way to relate to an audience and to reach out to those browsing podcasts.

Finally, the priest made the point that one cannot be easily discouraged if the first podcasts only receive a few downloads.

“You have to hunt for your audience,” said Father Vonhögen, joking that they do not just “drop out of the sky.”

Following Father Vonhögen’s presentation several Catholic podcasters discussed how they started in podcasting and offered additional suggestions on how to create a successful podcast.

In addition to moderator Lino Rulli, “The Catholic Guy” on Sirius Satellite Radio, the panel included David Sweeney and his daughter, Kathryn, who run the Catholic Family Podcast; Joshua LaBlanc and Father Chris Decker, who host the Catholic Underground podcast; Joe McClane of Catholic Hack; Father Jay Finelli of the iPadre podcast; Father Seraphim Bashoner, a Franciscan priest who hosts Catholic Under the Hood; Steve Nelson, host of the college podcast On the U; and Paul Camarata, host of SaintCast.

The reasons why each of the podcasters became involved in the new medium were as different as their walks of life.

Father Decker and LaBlanc spoke of how they thought people might want to “eavesdrop” on the conversations they frequently had about Catholicism. Nelson was involved in Catholic college ministry and felt it was an appropriate way to reach the new generation. Sweeney confessed his love for family, the church and computers, and felt podcasting was something that combined all three.

All of the panelists echoed Father Vonhögen’s first step in Catholic podcasting, which asked newcomers to find their passion. McClane said that people can tell if you are passionate about the subject on which you are speaking.

Father Bashoner encouraged new podcasters to be themselves but also to be careful.

“(Podcasting) is part of your life, but not your life,” he said, as he emphasized the importance of being honest but also protecting your personal life. One must be careful of the extent to which one exposes his or her personal information, he affirmed.

By the end of the panel discussion, several of the podcasters told the crowd that if they are interested in podcasting, that they should get up and start doing it immediately and regularly. McClane told the crowd to pick up a microphone on the way home and start recording as soon as possible because the stronger the Catholic presence in the new media, the more effective the Catholic Church will be in reaching others.