Podcasting—The Gospel on Demand
AWR programs reach listeners worldwide
By Dowell Chow
Very few discoveries have revolutionized the world as has the Internet. In the past 25 years we have seen the passing of telegrams and telex, as well as the diminishing use of faxes, airmail, and various other methods of communication. Connectivity—instant connectivity—is the theme of the day. With the dawn of smartphones, almost everyone is connected to one another.
Some 247 billion e-mails crisscross the globe every day (a 2009 estimate). That’s more than 2.8 million per second! Although much of that is spam, it’s estimated that 50 billion “genuine” e-mails are exchanged every day.1 Where as once it took days, weeks, and months to send a message through the mail, now we have overnight delivery carriers and scanned material we can instantly send to any part of the world in seconds. And the list goes on and on.
The Arrival of Podcasts
Podcasts were used by many companies a decade ago. About 2004, developers began to automate the delivery of content to portable audio devices. The content, also referred to as “episodes” stored on a server, could now be accessed by the user at their leisure by utilizing specific software.
Although podcasting has been associated with an iPod device, the content actually can be accessed using any computer or MP3 player that can play media files. Some have even suggested the term netcast as a more accurate word to describe this medium in an attempt to disassociate it from the exclusiveness of the Apple iPod.
The prefix “pod” of “podcast” started out as the acronym for “playable on demand.” “Cast” came from “broadcast.” Now some are suggesting “personal on demand broadcast” as the correct way to describe this medium.
Propelling the Message
Podcasts have become an extremely important medium that can propel the gospel message with a mighty force. For example, the Adventist World Radio—Voice of Hope podcast in the French language (one of the first AWR experimented with) became so popular that it was adding hundreds of subscribers each month! A “subscriber” is one who deliberately subscribes to the program, which means every new episode is automatically downloaded to the subscriber’s device and can be accessed at any time by the user, as opposed to a casual visitor to the site who is simply browsing, or surfing, the Internet.
The mass movement of humanity creates a new dynamic in society. Huge pockets of ethnic groups have settled in many countries outside their own, and in some cases have become somewhat isolated from the rest of the host society. Now, by using podcasts, we can reach every ethnic group in America (or anywhere else in the world) in their own language.
A good example of this is AWR’s Swahili podcast. Because of access to modern technology in developed and emerging economies, Swahili-speaking people in America, Australia, and other parts of the world are downloading AWR podcasts every day. We now have the ability to penetrate every Chinatown, Ghanatown, or “Anytown,” even if no one at AWR can speak the language.
Adventist World Radio has acquired a media asset manager, known as the Mediator 4, which allows us to simultaneously place all the languages in which we broadcast every day via shortwave and AM/FM onto the AWR Web site. These podcasts are also available on iTunes and other podcast aggregations. Anyone who speaks any of those languages is then able to listen to these programs live or download the messages and listen to them at their convenience. Podcast invitations in the various languages are also available. These can be downloaded and printed from the AWR Web site and shared with friends and neighbors.
Consider this: “The prophecies in the eighteenth chapter of Revelation will soon be fulfilled.During the proclamation of the third angel’s message, ‘another angel’ is to ‘come down from heaven, having great power,’ and the earth is to be ‘lightened with his glory.’” 2
The coming of “another angel” in Revelation 18:1 is not something of the future anymore. That angel is here! With technology as it is today, we can “lighten” the entire world with Jesus’ message of hope. We can beam the Word of God to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people everywhere, around the clock.
“During the loud cry, the church, aided by the providential interpositions of her exalted Lord, will diffuse the knowledge of salvation so abundantly that light will be communicated to every city and town. . . . The light of present truth will be seen flashing everywhere. . . .
“Through most wonderful workings of divine providence, mountains of difficulties will be removed, and cast into the sea. The message that means so much to the dwellers upon the earth will be heard and understood. . . . The whole earth shall have been warned. And then shall the end come.” 3
Our time in history fits this pronouncement.
Adventist World Radio is reaching out to the hardest-to-reach people groups of the world with the message of hope in their own language—not only those who live in freedom-restricted countries but also the millions living in inaccessible high-rises in the large cities of this world. Mexico City, with about 20 million people, as well as Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), New York City, Moscow, London, São Paulo, Johannesburg, and others are all teeming with millions of people who live and work in buildings that are inaccessible largely because of security reasons. But Adventist World Radio—with its motto “No Walls, No Borders, No Limits”—opens doors to such places as these, where missionaries cannot go.
For more information about AWR and its podcasts, go to www.awr.org.
2 Ellen G. White, Maranatha, p. 218. (Italics supplied.)
3 Ibid.(Italics supplied.)
Dowell Chow is president of Adventist World Radio, an institution of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and the radio arm of the world church, with headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.