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The art (and heart) of podcasting


There is a dizzying offering of podcasts out there. What makes a good one and how do you create them?

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If you’ve ever searched for a great new podcast, you’ll know it’s a jungle out there. According to Podcast Index, there are currently more than four million registered podcasts across the globe.

That’s a lot of competition for listeners’ time and attention.

By genre, ‘society and culture’ has the highest volume of podcasts, followed by ‘education’, ‘arts’, ‘business’ then ‘religion and spirituality’. The list goes on.

In a nutshell, the definition of a podcast according to the Oxford English Dictionary is: ‘A digital audio file of speech, music, broadcast material, etc., made available on the internet for downloading to a computer or portable media.’

Some podcasts have a devoted following spanning more than a decade.

Others don’t make it past the 10-episode mark before fizzing out to an inactive dead-end.

How do you navigate the maze of digital audio, and if you want to dabble in podcast production, where do you start and how do you engage a crowd?

Adelaide-based James Meston built a career tackling exactly that. The Arch D Radio and Podcasting host and producer works hard to help young stars of the future hone their craft across five podcast channels.

Arch D is Catholic Education South Australia’s educational podcasting and radio program.

Arch D Radio presenter and podcaster James Meston records a podcast at the studio in Adelaide.

Arch D Radio presenter and podcaster James Meston.

It currently works with 24 Catholic schools across the state and is allegedly the most listened to Catholic youth radio show in the world. Not bad for a project that started as a humble, twice-weekly youth and student radio show in 2011.

“It was a labour of love,” James says. “I only had a little bit of time per week allocated to write, produce, and find guests. I spent a lot of weekends driving my family crazy with all the extracurricular work.” He smiles. “I knew it would be good and thought I should persevere.”

The show was produced with limited resources. “In the early days, we had such terrible gear and no money. I could only use what we had; old pieces of equipment that were basically discarded by other people.”

Fast forward 13 years and James oversees the podcasting education of more than 1000 students, both primary and secondary. They also acknowledge top student achievements at the annual red-carpet Arch D Awards in November, and a Podcasting Leaders Day in June featuring special high-profile guests such as radio hosts Jodie Oddy and Ali Clarke.

They even secured James’ personal podcasting hero Ira Glass, the US-based host and producer of radio and television series This American Life.

It turns out tenacity is one of the key ingredients involved in producing a successful podcast. James didn’t give up when Ira almost couldn’t make the arranged Podcasting Leaders Day appearance.

“We contacted so many people over the years to be involved, and Ira was the ultimate,” James says.

“He is great at what he does, and basically invented the genre.

“Ira has cultivated so many talented people who’ve gone on to become the luminaries in the field, and he’s always so generous with his information and knowledge.

“I guess I was shocked, but maybe not surprised that he was willing to do it. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

In the end, Ira reviewed some of the podcasts produced by Arch D students, providing them with invaluable feedback and constructive criticism.

“My advice for anyone wanting to create a podcast is just do it,” James says.

“Make one, even if it’s terrible (and it probably will be). If you want to be good at something you’ve got to be willing to be bad at it first. My radio coach was a man named Craig Bruce, who worked for Austereo for years. He always said, ‘the extra mile is an unpopulated wasteland because so few people are willing to go there’.”

As kit goes, it doesn’t have to cost the earth. Do your research. Most audio-visual stores have a decent offering at a variety of prices.

“The technology now is remarkable. They’re just so easy to use,” James says.

Episode planning, content preparation, structure and consistency, and a social media presence are also helpful.

For anyone wanting to delve into Catholic-focused podcasting, do your research.

“My favourite podcasts are ones where I’m engaged as an audience member because the hosts are real and relatable to me,” says Alyssa Agius, co-host of the Catholic Influencers Podcast with Fr Rob Galea.

“If you’re a podcaster, it’s really important to know your audience.”

Jude Hennessy interviewing Bishop Brian Mascord in a segment for The Journey Podcast.

Jude Hennessy interviewing Bishop Brian Mascord in a segment for The Journey Podcast.

In New South Wales, Jude Hennessy, director of the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong’s Office of Renewal and Evangelisation, has hosted a one-hour show every week for 11 years.

“We just had a microphone, a laptop and no idea when we started out,” Jude says.

“To our surprise it has grown from our local Christian radio station to around 30 Christian stations broadcasting the show, as well as thousands of people accessing it as a podcast or an email each week.”

Jude and the show producer Max Norden keep the formula simple.

“We intersperse current Christian music with engaging Catholic presenters who speak about their faith journey and their relationship with Jesus and how it calls them to live and act,” Jude says.


“While I really appreciate and value apologetics, we make personal stories of faith the mainstay of our podcast and it seemingly transcends theological differences and worship styles.

“While helping people in their own faith journey, the content is building Christian unity in the process. From our perspective, that is awesome and incredibly humbling.”

There are many national podcasts to explore.

“In Australia, there is a wide variety of Catholic podcasts that reflect the breadth and depth of Catholic theology,” James says.

“With Arch D we focus mostly on the ideas of what do we learn about being people in the world, of being instruments of God and instruments of goodness in the world?”

No matter your chosen genre, James advises to give it a go: “Radio and podcasting are very much like accumulating flying hours in a plane; you’ve just got to do it more and more.”



Arch D Radio

Showcasing the voices of school students, old scholars, youth ministers and teachers in Adelaide. The conversations are insightful and it’s a place to hear great stories and interviews. Listen to the Arch D Show every Wednesday night from 9pm and every Saturday night from 10pm on Life FM, or head over to Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

Catholic Influencers Podcast with Fr Rob Galea

Two weekly broadcasts through which Catholics can delve deeper into the upcoming Sunday Mass readings and relevant life issues from a Catholic perspective. Hosted by Fr Rob Galea, Alyssa Agius, and Justine Cumbo. Their new season launches on March 4.


Stina Constantine and Fr Sean Byrnes are the hosts of Virtue Ministry’s Living Fullness podcast.

Stina Constantine and Fr Sean Byrnes are the hosts of Virtue Ministry’s Living Fullness podcast.

The Journey Podcast by Jude Hennessy


A weekly radio program and podcast developed by the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong about faith, hope, love and life. It includes music, a weekly Gospel reflection, and interviews. Hosted by Jude Hennessy and produced by Max Norden.

Living Fullness – Virtue Ministry

Hosts Stina Constantine and Fr Sean Byrnes unpack relationships, virtues, faith and cultural trends. The Podcast includes monthly guest interviews and occasional surprise co-hosts, all with the aim of helping each other to live life to the full.

Beautiful Anonymous

Every week, host Chris Gethard opens the phone line to one anonymous caller, and he can’t hang up first, no matter what. The result is an interesting collection of stories that span the globe.

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