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AWR to Begin Comprehensive Podcasting Service: 75 Languages Coming Online

AWR to Begin Comprehensive Podcasting Service: 75 Languages Coming Online

Adventist World Radio (AWR) has signed a contract for a media asset management (MAM) system with Pharos Communications, Ltd., a British company, that will enable AWR to begin offering all of its radio programs – which are currently produced in 75 language

January 30, 2009 | AWR

Adventist World Radio (AWR) has signed a contract for a media asset management (MAM) system with Pharos Communications, Ltd., a British company, that will enable AWR to begin offering all of its radio programs – which are currently produced in 75 languages – as podcasts. [A podcast is a digital recording that can be downloaded from the Internet and played on portable devices such as iPods, computers, and other similar players whenever an individual wishes to listen.]

“The MAM moves AWR to a new generation for the distribution of gospel programming and other technical processes,” says AWR president Ben Schoun. “Now, rather than broadcasting on the radio to one targeted area, this system enables AWR to reach the entire world all at once. Whoever has access to the Internet will be able to hear any of our programs, which are currently available in 75 languages. This is why this step is so significant and why I am tremendously excited to move forward with its implementation.”

AWR has been experimenting with podcasts for nearly two years, which has required program producers to manually prepare each program for use as a podcast. The labor intensive process has allowed AWR to only make about 10 languages available. The MAM, however, will enable the automation of these steps, and the podcasts will be available instantly worldwide.

“We were surprised,” Schoun says, “that in our limited experiments with podcasting we had such a tremendous response without any advertising. Several of our programs generated more than 200,000 subscribers around the world. An Ethiopian man who lives in Texas wrote an e mail to us telling how much it meant to him and his family to hear a program in their first language. And while he enjoys listening to his language, he is also hearing the gospel. This will happen all over the world. For example, a Nepalese worker who is living in Saudi Arabia or a Nigerian family who has moved to England will all be able to access programs in their native languages. When people are living far from their homelands, they are especially anxious to hear messages in their mother tongues.”

Schoun continues, “This system will also enable AWR programming to be heard regularly for the first time in North America. There are many groups of people in North America who speak languages other than English. To date, our radio broadcasts have only been available overseas, since that is our primary mission, but with these podcasts, churches and pastors in North America will be able to use our English and multi language recordings as a valuable tool as they seek to minister to particular communities. It also is a way to reach young people and other tech savvy persons in the developed world who do not listen to radio so much anymore.”

AWR web manager Marvin King points out that this new system will not only enhance AWR’s own web site, but will also maximize AWR’s web presence through other outlets. “The fact that these programs are listed in popular podcasting services, such as iTunes, gives us much greater exposure to the public than being limited to those who are able to find our web site,” he says. “Furthermore, the podcasts can be syndicated through other web sites, e mail distribution lists, blogs, and social networking sites, so people who have never visited our site will be exposed to our programs.”

Another beneficial feature of the system is the ability to search for keywords in all of the programs, in the respective languages, through the most popular podcatchers [the software that is used to listen to podcasts]. For example, someone who is interested in Russian programs that address smoking, family life, or salvation will be able to search for those topics.

There will also be internal benefits for AWR, King says, such as quality control features that will make it easier for managers to check the integrity of files before programs air, a web controlled management interface that will make it possible for staff to oversee system functions from anywhere in the world, and scheduling of file transfers based on a broadcast schedule.

“This media asset management system represents a substantial financial investment for AWR, but we feel that it is clearly worth it,” Schoun says. “Continuing to adopt new technologies makes it possible for us to reach ever increasing numbers of people with the gospel.”

Set up of the system will proceed in a number of detailed phases, from installing the computer servers to training AWR personnel, so an exact date for deployment has not been set. However, the tentative implementation date is for the spring of 2009. Please watch for further announcements.

Adventist World Radio is the mission radio arm of the Seventh day Adventist Church. Its mission is to broadcast the Adventist hope in Christ to the people groups of the world in their own languages. Visit the website of AWR.

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