Podcasts build new communities

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Podcasts build new communities

Highest Potential, hosted by Steve Pettit, currently has 25 released episodes. Photo submitted

BJU podcasts involving art, theology and the University president connect students and faculty in discussions during an ongoing pandemic.

ArtBreak: An M&G Podcast is a recent project from the Museum & Gallery. Erin Jones, M&G’s executive director, started the podcast in September of 2020 to replace the original ArtBreak lunch and lecture, which was shut down during COVID-19. The monthly ArtBreak episodes run 30 to 40 minutes and can be found on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

While the ArtBreak lunches tended to spotlight a specific exhibition being shown at the time, the podcasts include a wide range of topics. Guests present their own expertise or perspective on different aspects of the art world, from a curator detailing the chemistry of restorative paintwork to an FBI agent explaining white-collar crimes in the world of museum business. February’s episode will cover Museum on the Move, an M&G program for bringing an art-integrated learning program to public schools.

But art remains the most important subject. “[The podcast] is trying to present a variety of perspectives and voices,” Jones said, “but always linking it to the world of art, because it touches every subject and discipline. Anyone can listen and learn something of interest.”

ArtBreak is produced in the recording studio in BJU’s Audio Services on the BJU campus, but the ability to interview guests from other museums has created a wider shared audience for everyone involved, according to Jones. “We really are expanding their world during COVID-19 . . . as well as our own,” Jones said.

Another BJU podcast sparked by the COVID-19 shutdown, Theologically Speaking, is hosted by Dr. Eric Newton, a BJU seminary faculty member. Newton started the podcast in September 2020 to enable continued discussion within the seminary despite the pandemic and to expand the discussion. Weekly episodes are about 30 minutes long and can be found on seminary.bju.edu as well as on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and the BJU Seminary YouTube channel.

“The idea is that how we think and communicate needs to be shaped by Scripture,” Newton said. “There’s a theological perspective to life that we need, not just in ministry, but as believers.”

Newton brings guests from BJU or from ministries outside of BJU to discuss what God is doing in everyday life and through the pandemic. He said he hopes the podcast will change the perspective of his audience so that they continually see God’s work in today’s world. “It’s really a habit, a way of thinking,” Newton said.

Topics range from historic moments such as the Diet of Worms to urban evangelism during a pandemic. The seminary’s website also includes a survey for listeners to suggest topics.

Chris Harmony, the seminary student who edits Theologically Speaking, said podcasts have been providing the chance for meaningful discussion, something that became precious during the pandemic shutdown. Theologically Speaking implements that discussion. “It’s really meant to be kind of like sitting around the coffee shop with someone you’d love to talk to but don’t get the chance to,” Harmony said.

Highest Potential, hosted by Steve Pettit, currently has 25 released episodes. Photo submitted

Highest Potential, a BJU podcast started before the pandemic, features both student hosts and Dr. Steve Pettit, BJU president. Weekly episodes run about 30 minutes and can be found on Google Podcasts, Spotify, Apple Podcasts and on BJUToday

Petitt said he got the idea for a podcast after a few students came to his home to record for an earlier BJU podcast, Are You Mad at That? Pettit then asked Max Burak, a grad student and one of the four students who produced the original podcast, to cohost Highest Potential, along with Pettit and another student host, Caroline Smith, a junior education major.

Since the podcast’s origin in September 2019, Pettit continues the tradition of having a student cohost to give the podcast a student voice. “My intention is to use [the podcast] as another tool of communication,” Pettit said. To him, Highest Potential shares the same goal as BJU: to empower students to reach their highest potential. Pettit said he hopes to reach this goal through conversations about what BJU values.

These conversations feature the voice of today’s student cohost, senior communication and business student Sarah Rumpf, along with guests brought in to discuss current events in and around BJU. Notable guests include Sen. Tim Scott, Dr. Sam Horn and Dr. Bob Jones III, whose discussion of his recent remarriage drew over 9,000 listeners, the podcast’s largest audience yet.