Imagine a type of radio where you can choose to listen to whichever programs you want to and when you want to — as well as pause, rewind, fast forward or listen again. This type of program exists. It is a podcast. The name comes from combining the last syllables of “iPod” (the device from Apple that made it easy to listen to many songs and other digital files and transformed the market) and “broadcast.” Thus, a podcast is a file broadcast on digital devices instead of traditional radios or televisions.
Research shows about 44 percent of all Americans have listened to a podcast and 26 percent of all Americans listen to podcasts at least monthly — with the monthly number jumping to 32 percent among those aged 25-54. These numbers keep growing each year. Monthly podcast listeners have more than doubled in the past five years. An estimated 17 percent of Americans listen to podcasts at least weekly, with 51 percent of those individuals listening to four or more podcasts per week.
All those ears on podcasts now attracts advertisers hoping to reach the tens of millions of regular listeners. Total ad expenditures during podcasts in 2017 topped $200 million — more than double the amount just three years earlier. And those numbers will likely continue to grow as the number of podcasts listeners does.
And there are many programs for listeners to choose. Apple says their platform includes more than 500,000 active podcasts in more than 100 languages. Even traditional media outlets have added to this number as ESPN, NPR, Washington Post and many others create podcasts.
Baptist Without an Adjective
In March, Word&Way launched a weekly interview podcast called “Baptist Without An Adjective.” The show includes conversations with — as the show’s introduction notes — “Baptists from across the denominational, ethnic, national and ideological lines that too often divide us.” Word&Way Editor & President Brian Kaylor hosts the show. Interviews in the first 30 episodes include leaders of American Baptist Churches USA, Baptist Center for Ethics, Baptist World Alliance, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention USA, North American Baptist Fellowship and Southwest Baptist University. Additionally, Baptist leaders from eleven different nations are included. In the first six months of the show, people from 33 states have listened to episodes. And listeners have also tuned in from 31 other nations on six continents — including several nations where Baptists and other Christians face persecution and a lack of Christian resources.
“It’s been a joy to bring these interviews into the broader world,” Kaylor said. “We’ve been able to include more voices and conversations than we can pack into the magazine. I’ve benefited from these interviews and hope others will also find them interesting and insightful.”
Other religious media organizations have also recently started podcasts. For instance, The Arkansas Baptist launched “TAB News” in August and the Religion News Foundation launched “Re-Sight Islam” in July.
Other Baptist podcasts include: “Baptist Joint Committee Podcast,” a look at religious liberty issues from the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty; “CBF Conversations,” a weekly interview podcast from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship; “Gifts from Global Baptists,” a short monthly interview podcast by the Baptist World Alliance; “Good God,” a weekly interview podcast by Texas Baptist pastor George Mason; “Signposts,” a weekly podcast from Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; and “The Briefing,” a daily news commentary from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Al Mohler. Many Baptist churches also put their sermons in a podcast.
How to Listen
There are many ways to listen to a podcast. Most programs can be found in a variety of podcast apps that can be downloaded on a computer, tablet or phone. For instance, the most popular podcast platform remains Apple’s iTunes. Anyone can download iTunes for free at itunes.apple.com. Once downloaded, one can search the “store” for various podcasts by name or topic. Other podcast apps work the same way, with some of the other popular ones including Podcast Addict (particularly popular on Android phones and tablets), Player FM, Overcast, Spotify and Stitcher.
Most podcast shows — as well as the apps to play them — are free. Some shows will create special bonus episodes only available for those with a related subscription or who contributed to support the show, but for most programs all of the episodes can be found on iTunes or other apps. By subscribing to a show in one of the podcast apps, new episodes of the program will automatically appear — similar to how TiVo or DVRs work for TV programs — thus making it easier to keep up with the latest episodes. Many podcast apps will, when a device is online, also automatically download the new episodes of subscribed shows, which means one can listen to them later even when not connected to the Internet.
In many podcast apps, listeners can write a review of the show. These reviews can help others find the program when they are searching for keywords related to the show. For instance, shows with more reviews in iTunes will appear in more searchers by other users, thus increasing the likelihood that more people will start listening to a program.
Word&Way’s free show can be found by searching for “Baptist Without An Adjective” in various podcast apps. Individual episodes of the show can also be heard online at tinyurl.com/BWAApodcast or adjective.libsyn.com. Feedback on the program can be sent to Kaylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.