My first Podcast

Our world is about to change (again).

In the same way that radio changed our world, and television changed our world and the Internet changed our world, our world is about to change again. What is going to cause this change?

Podcasting.

What is Podcasting? It is a new technology--new enough that I had to teach the newest version of this software how to spell the word--where content can be delivered on a subscription basis. In a way, the first example of this was the BLOG, which is a means by which you could sign up to have text content delivered by way of Email.

The really interesting Podcasting in this era is audio Podcasting. Video will soon follow. The process of subscribing to and receiving the information is the same. You sign up to some content deliverer and on a regular basis new content is delivered to you. If you have an IPOD (you NEED an IPOD!) or, presumably other MP3 player, you can have the content delivered directly and automatically to your IPOD. If you don't yet know what an MP3 player is, you might not be ready yet for Podcasting.

Here is an example. I have often said that the best preacher I have ever enjoyed sitting under is Sam Shaw, now pastor of Germantown Baptist in greater Memphis, TN. I have occasionally gone online and listened to Sam's messages, but there was no quick and easy way to take those messages with me so I could listen to them on an airplane or while I am driving. Now there is. I have subscribed to Germantown's Podcast and each week a new Sam Shaw sermon gets delivered to my IPOD. Once you subscribe, it is completely automatic. Best of all, it is free. The vast majority of Podcasts are free, including the Josh Hunt Podcast.


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My dream is to provide a monthly training Podcast that you can burn to CD and give to your teachers as a training piece for them.

Where is this heading and why is it going to be such a revolutionary change?

It is a pretty short trip to imagine the future from here. Some day soon, we will all have a device sitting on our TV that looks and works a little like a VCR on steroids. It will have a hard drive, a DVD burner, and a Internet connection. The interface will allow you to sign up for whatever subscriptions you want. Perhaps you like watching old episodes of M.A.S.H. or you would like to see old Leave it to Beaver re-runs. You will be able to subscribe and define at what intervals you want the content updated. You will tell the machine to keep so many episodes of Star Trek and so many episodes of Friends. When you watch an episode, the machine will go out and get a new one, leaving you with fresh content all the time.

What would be really great is if they could get a refrigerator that works like this, so that each time you used some milk it was automatically replaced, but, alas, electronic content is easier to replace than milk and vegetables.

This is not too different from the current generation of Tivo and ReplayTV. The difference is, this devices are limited to the content of broadcast, or cable TV. Podcasting has no such limits. It could be a sermon, or a training piece, a movie, a song, a concert, an old Billy Graham sermon, early James Dobson radio broadcasts, or any other content that anyone creates.

We have moved from broadcasting to narrowcasting. Narrowly casting whatever specialized content is subscribed to by the individual. Thus, there will be a quick, easy, and inexpensive way for anyone--including churches to deliver fresh content on a subscription basis to anyone who desires to receive it. You will soon have access, for example, to virtually any preacher you care to hear, and hear their messages at any time that is convenient to you.


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The state of things as they are

These are not all pipe dreams about a distant, far-off technology. I listened to my friend Sam this week. There are hundreds of churches that already have Podcasts set up. It is ready for you to take advantage of today, and it is free.

You don't need an IPOD or any other equipment or software to take advantage of this exciting technology. You can download ITunes from www.apple.com for free. Click on the button that says Music Store, then Podcasts. Do a search for the word "church" or "sermon" and walla! hundreds of churches are available for you to choose from. If you want a particular preacher, say John Ortberg, do a search for that. Sometimes, it takes a little sorting out. I think in the case of John Ortberg I had to go to their web page www.mppc.org  and look at the instructions and work backward.

Two other Podcasts you might be interested in are Andy Stanley's Catalyst Podcast (not the weekly sermons; you have to buy those) and John Piper's radio broadcast. Let me know which Podcasts you have found that are interesting at http://joshhunt.blogs.com/blog/

Now, here is the really cool part: do a search for Josh Hunt. Subscribe today. It is free. My goal is to create regular audio content that you can use to train all your Sunday School teachers and small group leaders, hopefully along the line of one new session per month. Feel free to burn CDs for all your teachers to listen to in the car. Of course, your teachers could sign up for the Podcast themselves, but let's face it, it will be a while for some of them. Alternatively, you might make a training Podcast of your own. If the training content is of a general use nature (that is, not specific to your church) you might share the word. One place is on my blog at http://joshhunt.blogs.com/blog/


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How I set up my Podcast and how you can set up yours

Every church ought to be setting up a Podcast. Just as we all had tape ministries in the 70s and transitioned to CDs in the 90s, it is time to transition again to the Podcast. Good news here it is free, and, in the broad scheme of things somewhat uncomplicated.

I got fired up this Wednesday to set up a Podcast. Within 24 hours, I had it up and running. Here is how I did it, and how you can set up one for your church. I don't purport to be some expert on this; I know just enough about it to get it done. This is not the only way, and it may not even be the best way, but it is one way.

I am old fashioned enough to enjoy reading actual books printed on paper. (Very low-tech, I know.) So, after Googling around a bit unsuccessfully, I decided to pay a visit to my friendly Barnes and Noble store to look for a book on Podcasting. They had about half a dozen or so. Not knowing which one to choose, I went home, looked on www.amazon.com for the one with the highest rating. Then, I went back to Barnes and Noble and purchased Podcasting Solutions. It provides far more information than you need--in the next three paragraphs I am going to tell you how to set up a Podcast. By this time tomorrow, you should be on ITunes.

As it turns out, this trip back to the mall is the most expensive part of the set up. It cost me $40. $20 for the book and $20 because my daughter talked me into walking across the hall and buy her a new pair of shoes. What is up with girls and shoes?

The starting point for Podcasting is to convert your audio to MP3.  The sermon can be recorded directly into MP3 on your computer, using any number of inexpensive programs to do that. Alternately, you can rip the audio from a CD. You may want to get familiar with and tinker with some of the settings. MP3 is usually working with songs which are short and demand high quality to sound right. Sermons, in contrast, are long, but don't need the fidelity that music needs, so you can get away with high compression and it still sounds fine. Experiment.

The easiest way to get started is to start with a BLOG. This was counter intuitive to me, but apparently, the whole idea of Podcasting came from blogging. Some of these are free. As it turned out, I already had one set up at www.typepad.com. I pay $5 a month for that. There are some free services. Don't ask me why I signed up for the one that costs. Some other choices are www.wordpress.org  and www.movabletype.org. Then, and this took a little poking around for me, find where it says to insert an MP3. You want to put an MP3 into the blog, which is otherwise text. A little counter-intuitive, I know. You don't have to understand it; just do it.

Once that is set up, make a note of where your URL is for your blog. Mine is http://joshhunt.blogs.com/blog/ It will likely look something like that.

Now, go to www.feedburner.com  The site will ask you for your blog address. Type it in and hit go. You will see a few choices. Make your best guess. One more step. You only need to do this once. Once it is set up, you just need to update the blog and this will do the rest automatically.

Once this finishes, you need to submit this address to ITunes, so it can find it. From within the ITunes program, hit Music Store, then Podcasts, then Submit a Podcast. You have to sign up for a ITunes account, but it doesn't actually cost any money. They want to make it easy for you to buy music or audio books from them. From this point, it takes about 12 hours for ITunes to approve the Podcast. From here on, all you have to do is add new content to your Blog and the rest takes care of itself.

 


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