Written by Mary McCusker
Podcasts. For some, the word may elicit eye rolls and conjure confusion — after all, what is a podcast anyway?
For others, the word lights up their eyes and instantly sparks a conversation about a podcast that they’ve recently heard that you “just have to listen to!”
Michael Walsh, director of Communications at the Diocese of Camden, and Pete Sánchez, Catholic Star Herald reporter, belong to the latter category. These two avid podcast enthusiasts have brought this new-age medium (which first entered the modern lexicon in 2004, but didn’t really take off until a few years ago with the mass adoption of smart phones) to the Diocese of Camden through the launching of their new series, “Talking Catholic” — a long-form interview program that offers stories and perspectives from Catholics, for Catholics, and for anyone curious about Catholicism.
Explained Sánchez, “We wanted to do something specific to Catholicism. I went searching, and there weren’t a lot of podcasts geared specifically toward Catholicism, especially on the East coast. So, I thought this might be fertile ground for us. I think that for people who want to more fully embrace or understand the Catholic faith, this is a great way to do it, and a great time to start — especially for the youth and young adults who are so wired into this medium of communication and information.”
For the past few months, the pair has been conducting interviews with Catholics from different walks of life: a priest with a unique background, the director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, a fundraiser, a social justice advocate and a Catholic school communication coordinator for the Hispanic community.
“We keep these podcasts person-oriented,” explained Walsh. “We chat with our guests about how they view their faith, what brought them to where they are today in that view, and what they do to make their faith a reality in their daily lives. So far, all of our guests have had truly remarkable stories to share.”
These stories are then available for free to stream online or download via iTunes, Google Play, and SoundCloud. According to Walsh, most people consume podcasts while they commute, work out or take walks. In general, podcasts can range from 15 minutes to three hours; however, Walsh and Sánchez try to keep them between 40-60 minutes.
Sánchez referenced a recent podcast that was conducted with Father Chris Mann — a former Marine, a former Franciscan Friar, a current diocesan priest. “He’s got a fascinating backstory you just have to listen to,” said Sánchez. “Everyone has a story to tell,” he added.
As a professional consumer of news and former reporter, what Walsh has always loved the most about journalism is the conversations interviewers can have with their subjects. But, he explained, the problem is that conversations often don’t translate well in printed articles or TV sound bites.
“These days, we might see a 500-word article, or a two-minute clip at best in the news, but you’re not really getting a full feel for who this person is, what brought them to where they are, what troubles they overcame and the good they’re doing in the world.”
Walsh explained that this is where the beauty of podcasts come into play — by listening to an individual’s story in their own voice, people are far more empathetic and intimately connected to the guest, and by extension, the world of Catholicism.
“So, I hope that through these podcasts, we can transfer a deeper understanding of our faith to others,” said Sanchez. “This is a wonderful opportunity to hear people in different capacities. This is a new frontier for the people of the Diocese of Camden. There’s so much excitement, and we really hope that snowballs.”
To listen to Talking Catholic, go to camdendiocese.org/talkingcatholic or search for Talking Catholic on iTunes, Google Play or SoundCloud. And follow the podcast on social media, too – Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
New episodes are available each week and always for free.