November 3, 2018

Adventist Review Takes The Mic

Lael Caesar interviews Greg Scott about podcasts, one of the latest offerings from Adventist Review Ministries.

Lael Caesar

Greg Scott has led Adventist initiatives in radio witnessing around the world for decades. In this interview Adventist Review talks with him about one of his latest projects, a podcast, or rather, several series of podcasts.—Editors.

Tell us something about yourself, Greg. Give us some idea of your interests, background, and experience in audio engineering.

I began in radio in 1977, the year after I graduated from academy. During my six months at a local broadcasting school I got a job as a DJ at a local AM radio station in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, working Saturday nights and Sundays. Then when I enrolled at Southern Adventist University, I convinced Olsen Perry, WSMC’s station program director, to hire me, and he did.

Through my college years on various campuses I kept trying to decide whether a career in radio was for me. God seemed to be nudging me in that direction. After graduating from Loma Linda University at La Sierra in 1983, I packed up and moved to Italy, where I started and operated an Adventist FM radio station for the next three years. The station was set up on the border with France to broadcast to cities, towns, and hamlets along the French Riviera. While there I heard of the church’s plans to build a shortwave radio station on the island of Guam, and in 1987 I received a call to join Adventist World Radio (AWR) on Guam as program director. I served with AWR in various capacities for more than 30 years.

What was it that filled you with the need for an audio dimension to AR?

Starting an audio division at the Adventist Review was Bill Knott’s vision and dream. Bill, the ministry’s executive editor, recognizes the changing trends in media consumption and works to have them work for AR, the church’s historic communication ministry. ARtv began two years ago: it provides a platform for posting short, sharable videos, something no other Adventist ministry was doing. Today there are nearly 800 items of video content on the ARtv platform. AR is advancing as digital technologies and platforms advance.

So AR already has its online dimension, and even its video arm, ARtv. Why a podcast too?

Our busy world leaves little time for reading, but podcasting fits its constant motion perfectly: people can listen just about anywhere, while doing just about anything. Growth in podcast listening and popularity is about 5 percent annually. About 44 percent of Americans (124 million) have listened to a podcast. It is important for the church to have its content on these platforms as well.

How does the content of a given podcast relate to print and online versions of AR?

Adventist Review Ministries, with its two print magazines, has nearly 170 years of archived material and resources. We are attempting to do three things: (1) create new content every month, based on the central theme of the magazines; (2) make available for listening existing magazine content, preferably using the authors’ voices—for those who prefer listening to “one thing at a time“ over reading; (3) create new podcasts, beginning early 2019, on topics relevant to those seeking a closer relationship with Christ.

What do you consider to be the purpose of the podcast? What do you want it to accomplish?

Forty-nine percent of podcast listening is done at home, 22 percent in the car. Podcast listeners tune in to an average of seven different shows a week. Podcast listeners tend to be loyal, affluent, and educated.* This new digital media is a wonderful way for the church to get its message of love that forgives and inspires hope to a world full of pain, suffering, and hopelessness. Anyone, anywhere in the world with Internet can receive these podcasts.

What can you share about the format of the programs?

We have several different types of programs, including a weekly podcast called GraceNotes—one-minute podcasts written and narrated by Bill Knott; approximately 12 to 14 podcasts a month based on monthly magazine content; and a monthly podcast, from June to December 2018, called “Digging Deeper,” based on the same AR magazine topics but distinct from them in content. General Conference president Ted Wilson also contributes a monthly podcast called Global View; and in August we began recording a new podcast called HouseCall, hosted by Drs. Peter Landless and Zeno-Charles Marcel of the General Conference Health Department. In the near future, we plan to launch podcasts for news and KidsView.

What goes into preparing a given audio program? Tell us the backstory of the entire operation, or, perhaps, of a specific program.

Ideas for the Digging Deeper series are generated by the same editorial team that meets and decides on the content for the magazine. Associate and executive editors help to identify individuals who may be the most interesting and best qualified to speak on given topics. I schedule and conduct most of the interviews. The ministry’s huge network of theologians, professors, and specialists from around the world is ever ready to contribute.

How many people are involved in recording content and publishing podcasts?

Currently I am the only one regularly writing scripts, recording interviews, and editing the audio. Daryl Gungadoo, AR’s media lab director, is also an audio engineer. He provides valuable technical assistance, almost on a daily basis, from his home in the United Kingdom. Our plan for 2019 is to have a small podcast production team to create new content every month on relevant topics, similar to what is being done in the magazine.

Where do you do your recording?

I’ve converted my office here at the General Conference into a mini recording studio. It’s neither fancy nor soundproof, but it works fairly well. Now you better understand our needs.

How many podcasts have you turned out thus far?

From our beginning in May to September, we have turned out 12 different series, and I’ve recorded and published 73 podcast episodes.With very little advertising, promotion, or marketing those episodes have received 16,385 downloads, with the Digging Deeper series being the most popular online, despite their length (30 minutes or more); while GraceNotes has gleaned 44,062 downloads of its podcast on Facebook. We know that podcasts take a while to build an audience and a following.

How does one access the podcasts?

Adventist Review Ministries podcasts can be accessed in a number of ways. One of the easiest ways to listen and subscribe is to go to iTunes and search for “Adventist Review.” Another easy way is to go to araudio.com, where all our podcasts are hosted. Audio content is also posted on the following Facebook sites:

facebook.com/moregracenotes

facebook.com/adventistreview

facebook.com/adventistworld.

*www.podcastinsights.com/podcast-statistics/

Lael Caesar
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