Look who's using podcasts


On February 1st, 1993, a "news" story in the Washington Post famously referred to followers of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as "largely poor, uneducated and easy to command." Although the Post learned a lesson in the wave of criticism for its blatant (and inaccurate) stereotyping of evangelicals, urban elitists persist in stereotyping religious believers as rural primitives.

Well, it turns out that a veritable icon of hip, with—it, urban sophistication, the i—pod, has been adopted by evangelicals with a fervor that provincial New Yorkers assume they reserve for speaking in tongues. Marketwatch.com's Frank Barnako reports that

Weekly church sermons that can be downloaded from the Internet and played on portable audio players have become the Podcasts most in demand, according to analysis of search results at Lycos.com.

Dean Tsouvalas, the writer of the Lycos 50 report is quoted by Barnako as writing in an email:

"There are no specific 'Pod preachers' being queried, but it's only a matter of time before the 'Billy Graham' of Podcasts emerges."

By making interesting, moving, and profound sermons available easily, and by facilitating the sharing of them among friends and acquaintances, the i—pod has the potential to equal or exceed the impact televangelism has had on the American religious scene.

Compared to a television broadcast, an i—pod sermon is more personal, more portable, and more involving. Media analysts have long known that the audio feed of radio engages the mind more deeply than the visual+audio feed of television. Because an i—pod sermon can be listened to, paused, repeated, and otherwise controlled by the listener, it has a greater impact.

Young people in particular feel the need for a purpose in life. They are at the life stage where we all search for direction, where we ask big questions, and where we are looking for answers. As never before, they now have available the ability to listen to the counsel of spiritual leaders, forwarded to them by friends. They can take the sermons with them to the park, in the car, at the beach, or waiting for a bus or train — wherever they have a moment, and whenever they feel the need.

I strongly suspect that a new generation fo celebrity preachers will emerge to supply the audience that i—pod is creating. They will have a different style than those who thrive on television. Like blogging, it makes available the widest possible audience at the lowest cost in history to an entirely new set of people.

These i—pod "Godcasts" are a brand new phenomenon. Nobody can know for sure where they will lead us. But one prediction seems fairly secure: The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the rest of the elite MSM will be the last ones to figure it out.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

Thomas Lifson   5 12 05