I’ve lamented before about the lack of Catholic podcasts. There are certainly some high quality ones out there, but there are relatively few compared to Protestant and even atheist podcasts
Now one avenue for getting quality Catholic media out there is to take an existing show produced for radio and make it available as a podcast. Catholic Answers, EWTN, and Al Kresta do this. This is an excellent way to increase discoverability and to allow people to listen to shows at their leisure.
Unfortunately I saw today two examples of Catholic media failure in this regard. The examples I found indicated they had no idea what a podcast really was. For one thing making an mp3 file available on a website is not a podcast. An actual podcast provides a syndication feed (RSS) where you subscribe to the podcast to listen to via a podcast application. These podcast application can be used on a computer or mobile device. The podcast application then checks when new shows are available and downloads them for use.
At the top of the Son Rise Morning Show’s site there was a promising tab for “Podcasts”. It even had a Podcast button labeled “Full Feed.” This was not an actual Podcast RSS feed you could subscribe to but just a link to the same page which has a list of shows you could listen to.
Now that was annoying, but I thought maybe I could just download the show to listen to later on my iPad. Nope, no download link just streaming from the site. Plan B: Well I will just load up the page on my iPad to listen to it. Plan B Fail: Page would load, but no episodes appear on the iPad.
Update: Immaculate Heart Radio let me know that they do indeed have podcasts for some of their shows available in iTunes. They will have Patrick Madrid’s show as a podcast in the future.
Second Update: The show is now available via podcast.
Next I went to Immaculate Heart Radio where I saw a banner for “More streams, podcasts, and more!” Now was there an actual podcast I could subscribe to? You guessed it, no. What they did have is a new mobile app for iOS and Android. This app allows you to listen to live streams and what it called “Podcasts”. In this case the only show available was “Bay Area Catholics” and not Patrick Madrid’s show. Plus again it was not really a podcast, but a show available on demand for streaming.
At least on their Audio Archives page you could download individual shows. It is certainly nice to support someone being able to listen to a show by clicking on a link on their site. Actual podcasts allow you to listen to shows when not online.
EWTN’s new mobile app is another thing I found quite annoying. For the most part mobile apps created for Catholic broadcasters are usually just not very good. Now I understand this is something they hire out for and cost is of great concern. This app certainly I think reflects that. On the plus side they had a universal app for both the iPhone/iPod Touch and for the iPad. There was really no consideration is how it looked/worked on the iPad and you could not change orientation from portrait to landscape for the menus. At least videos played in landscape mode (sometimes). If you lost internet connection and wanted to play where you left off for the video – no luck there. Overall the app was just not visually appealing in any way. On the other hand it might be perfectly usable for many people and it does provide something needed. Maybe I am too picky as being both a developer and somebody who has come to understand how important interface and aesthetics are. This app though looks to me like the iconoclasts won.
Here is something else I found embarrassing. EWTN has a page dedicated to using EWTN on your mobile phone.
On your Iphone or iTouch, start Mobile Safari browser.
Wow where can I get an Iphone? Is that a Chinese knockoff of an iPhone?
How about some instructions for Android users or is it this page just never got updated? Possibly since they don’t even mention their new mobile apps.
They do have a Mobile Apps page and here they link to the iOS and Android apps stores to download this. Oddly though instead of using the standard Android icon, they used the Google Play store icon.
Now I might be a pot complaining about the color of the kettle considering the grammar and spelling mistakes that appear on my site. Still I find the problems noted above to be indicative of some Catholic media.