What we’ve learned in one year of podcasting

05 July 2018

Karen Stiller, host of The EFC Podcast, reflects on our first year of producing free, weekly audio recordings.

It's been just over a year since the EFC launched its podcast. Like so many entrepreneurial initiatives, we didn't really know what we were doing when we began.

But we jumped in with both feet anyway and launched a podcast.

We did it because we believed that podcasting would introduce a new audience to the work of the EFC and its print magazine, Faith Today. We have such great material and access to such gifted experts, we thought we should cast that material out even further into the world.

So we did. Here's a little bit of what we've learned.

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We've learned that podcasts don't have to be perfect. One of the first ones I recorded happened by accident. I was interviewing author Ann Voskamp on the release of her book The Broken Way. I found myself sitting in the lobby of a downtown Toronto hotel struggling to catch up with Ann as I interviewed her.

I knew I needed to record that interview because the material was so rich -- and so fast -- so I turned on my iPhone to record. It was such a great interview and she was so warm and lovely that our team decided, as imperfect as the recording was (and as uncomfortably loud as I seemed to be laughing sometimes in response to something funny she said), we'd go for it and turn it into a podcast.

It's not the best recording ever. There's lots of background chatter and I probably would have presented myself a bit more professionally (maybe). But podcasts allow for that kind of spontaneity, and that is very cool.

We've learned that people are willing to give it a try.  We interviewed Preston Manning from my basement office praying my dog wouldn't start barking. He gamely joined in from his own office (I assume), joining me in a Skype call which we recorded.

When the tragedy of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash devastated Canada, Dave Wells, general superintendent of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC) who is also a sports chaplain, joined us by Skype from Australia’s Gold Coast to share his thoughts on this incredibly sad event. He offered practical insights into how the Church can help in those times.

And when Billy Graham died, we were able to interview the head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Canada within a few hours, and give our listeners a behind the scenes look at what was happening as the world said goodbye to this great leader.

Aimee Patterson, a sexual ethics consultant with The Salvation Army ethic centre in Winnipeg was willing to explore #MeToo and the church with us.

Two hours after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on the TWU law school, dean Earl Phillips gave us his early response in a 15 minute call from Abbotsford.

For us, podcasting opened up a new way of getting great information and wisdom out into the world, and pretty quickly.

We've discovered we can use the great resources we already have. Another revelation! We brought in some talent and had them read some of our most compelling Faith Today articles to transform them into podcasts. Our own Brian Stiller shares his popular global dispatches with us on podcasts as well, giving listeners another way to tap into these great stories.

We've learned the content is more important than the medium. When I asked our tech expert what he had learned, he said that the episodes getting the most listens and responses were the ones with the most current topics, such as the Humboldt bus crash, Canada Summer Jobs attestation and the law school at Trinity Western University. So dealing with top-of-mind topics is crucial, whether delivered in a podcast or an article. What matters about the medium mainly is that it doesn’t get in the way -- a bad recording can take away from listeners’ engagement.

We've learned you don't stop learning. We have a meeting planned in September to evaluate what we've done so far and introduce some tweaks to the podcast to make it even more listenable (my new word). I listen to podcasts now whenever I'm on a long drive to learn from the people who truly know what they are doing (see first line). Podcasts are an awesome way to learn and enjoy great content, and our team is really glad to be part of that world.

If you haven't listened yet, join us in podcast world.

Karen Stiller is a senior editor of Faith Today and a most-of-the-time EFC podcast host.

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