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The Blog Podcast: A Milestone!

As you may know, there is a weekly Podcast connected with the blog, called, cleverly enough, The Bart Ehrman Blog Podcast.  The idea was hatched two years ago by blog member John Mueller, who has put a tremendous amount of effort into the whole affair every week since, producing and managing the podcast all himself, simply out of the goodness of his heart.  The podcasts appear in a variety of venues, most anywhere you typically go for such things (e.g., Itunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Spotify).  You can find it simply enough: just search for “Bart Ehrman” or look on the episode webpage:  http://ehrmanpodcast.libsyn.com/  John releases a new episode every Sunday and now, I am happy to say, we have reached a milestone.  Episode 100 is to be released this weekend.

The goal of the podcast is to help raise blog awareness.  The theory was and is that this in turn would increase membership in the blog, which would then  raise more money for charity.  The best part of John’s offer to start the project is that he would shoulder the entire burden himself.  I had nothing to do beyond giving it my blessing, and I eventually did so.  We agreed to the following format.

Each week on the podcast, John reads two posts from the blog. The first reading is of one of the posts that is available to anybody who visits the blog, not just members (I make about a post a week free to anyone who is interested, as a way to lure more people in and join up). The second reading comes from a post deep in the archives from the first several years of the blog.  In choosing archived posts, John tries to pick one that is part of a thread, so, like any good teaser, it may hook a listener and generate an interest in joining to read the follow up posts.   Each podcast lasts roughly 20 minutes.

My initial concern when considering John’s suggestion of a podcast was whether it would be counterproductive.  Would it have the unintended result of decreasing membership?  Why would folks pay for something that they could get for free?   As it turns out, my concerns appear to have been misfounded:  blog membership has increased since the podcast was created.  And so the effort is paying good dividends:  many of the thoughtful and generous folks who listen to the podcast end up wanting more  and join the blog; it helps, of course, that they know that doing so is also doing a good deed, since every penny of their membership fee goes directly to charities helping the needy.  I don’t have any hard data that proves the podcast has driven membership up, but it’s certainly not driving it down and it is doing a world of good on its own.

I know that some who listen to the podcast would prefer that I read the posts myself.  I’d love to do so, but the reality is that it ain’t gonna happen.   We all need more hours in the day and more days in the week, and until we can convince the Authorities to make that happen, with all my other commitments, I just can’t do it.  So for now, listeners will have to be content with my recently recorded introduction to the podcast which is being incorporated into each episode.  But that’s just as well.  A number of listeners have told me how much they enjoy it as is.

And the podcast itself, as a result, continues to grow. More than 200,000 episodes have been downloaded since the podcast began less than two years ago.  This entails between 3,000 and 4,000 downloads every week.  Of these some 1,500 to 2,000 are downloads of just that week’s episode, with the numbers growing.  And all that for a a podcast that has had no direct marketing apart from a couple of posts on the blog and a link to the podcast on the member content page.

So, now that the podcast has reached that 100th episode milestone, it may be a good time for both John and me to hear your feedback.  Have you ever listened to the podcast?  What are your thoughts about it?  Is there anything we can improve?  Or consider changing?  Did you join the blog after hearing the podcast?   Or know anyone who decided not to join because of it?  Or who has left membership of the blog because of it?  Let us know – simply make a comment on this post.  John will be reading all comments and can respond to any questions as well.

Finally, if you are a listener of the podcast, it is my understanding that rating it and/or leaving a review wherever you get it also helps for its promotion. And the more people who discover the podcast, the more who will also, as a result, discover the blog.  That in turn should lead to membership growth, which will increase the amount we raise for charity, which means the world will be a happier place.  Ain’t life good?

Many, many thanks to John for his selfless and virtually thankless devotion to the work.  I very much appreciate it, as I know do that thousands of people who weekly hear his voice.


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Comments

  1. Avatar
    rburos  May 31, 2019

    I had listened to it once before when it started up, and this post made me go back and try it again. Alas, the moderator’s reading style is so similar to machine reading that I start to get anxious pretty quickly. It seems well-engineered though, so I’m not completely down on it.

  2. Avatar
    ksgm34  May 31, 2019

    Just to say that I didn’t know about the podcast; I only use my mobile phone to visit the blog so this might be why I’ve never noticed it being advertised.

  3. Avatar
    berneyw  May 31, 2019

    Thank you. I didn’t know about the podcast.

  4. Avatar
    Neurotheologian  May 31, 2019

    Hi Bart
    It’s good, but:
    Yes, it would be nice to hear your dulcit tones from time to time on recent posts
    The advertising plug for the blog is too long and too repetetive and has the danger of putting people off or aggravating them
    Reduce the blog plug by 75%

  5. Avatar
    JedFlogen  May 31, 2019

    Bart and John,

    Thank you for the Podcast. Without it, I would not be a blog member. Now I faithlessly consume both.

    Here’s to many more years! Cheers!

  6. Avatar
    Hngerhman  May 31, 2019

    Thoughts on the podcast: The podcast is fantastic. John, thanks so much, it’s such a huge service you are doing for us all. From the narration to the format to the post selections to the music to the blog advertising, the podcast is a jewel.

    Impact to blog membership: Despite following much of Dr Ehrman’s work, the podcast was the way I learned about the content and mission of the blog. If a reasonably avid Ehrman fan can somehow overlook the blog for years, and only come to it via the podcast, then it seems pretty clear that the podcast is additive to the blog’s membership. It’s hard to imagine someone would churn off the blog for the podcast – they just aren’t substitutes in my mind.

    Improvement: I wouldn’t change a thing about the free podcast. In my greedier moments, I wish for an additional combined blog + podcast subscription wherein for an additional fee, a subscriber would receive a subscriber-only podcast feed with an audio version of each blog post. But that would require additional time by John or Dr Ehrman or someone else. I’d have to imagine there’s a market for it within the blog community, especially for those of us who commute and/or consume much of our long-form written material via audiobook…

    No matter where one stands on belief, I think we’d all agree that, with the podcast, John Mueller is doing God’s work.

    • Avatar
      forestweld  June 24, 2019

      I agree with this entire comment by HngerHman and want to emphasize the desire for a members-only podcast that would at least continue the multi-post series that are started on the blog but require *reading* the subsequent posts. A recent example is the posts on the death of Judas Iscariot. John, I very much get that you’re trying to increase membership, and for a very good cause, and I expect that you’re already putting in as much time as you can. But it’s pretty frustrating for a bona fide Ehrman fan who simply has no time to visit the blog–only has time to consume them as podcasts while commuting–to hear the first part of a fascinating post and not be able to hear the other parts. Maybe the subsequent parts could be made available to members only by text-to-speech podcasts? Not your dulcet tones, but still probably satisfying.

  7. Avatar
    cestmarrant  May 31, 2019

    I’m a long-time member of the blog, but I really enjoy the podcast. It’s nice being read to, and it’s nice being reminded of older posts! Thank you John (and, of course, Bart) for all your hard work! I hope the podcast lures in many new members 🙂 PS, I just went into itunes and rated it – good reminder to do that.

  8. Avatar
    AstaKask  June 1, 2019

    Congratulations!

  9. Avatar
    leepooltdhh  June 1, 2019

    I listened to the podcast for several weeks before becoming a member of the blog. I look forward to the podcast each week. Thank you for creating the podcast.

  10. Avatar
    Stylites  June 1, 2019

    Until now I have not listened, but I will now.

  11. Avatar
    asnogordo  June 1, 2019

    I love the podcast, and listen to it on the way to work. I’d say my biggest feedback is that 10% of it is promoting the blog. I understand the aim is to attract people to the blog, but for people who are already subscribed, it’s a small annoyance. Not a huge deal, and it is worth the trouble.

    No offense to you Bart, but I actually prefer John’s narration to your own. It’s incredibly consistent, and easier on the ears.

    7
    1
  12. WhiskyJack
    WhiskyJack  June 1, 2019

    The reason I finally forked over the ~$20 was because I’d get really interested in a podcast post and then right when I was completely sucked in I’d learn that it was part of a series of blog posts. If every post was in podcast form I’d have gone through the entire post history in a matter of days. I really love Mueller’s voice and hope that he will be able to do an audio book. The beginning of each chapter would of course be obligated to have Handel in the background with Mueller saying “welcome to the next chapter…”

  13. Avatar
    Raskolnikov  June 2, 2019

    After listening to the podcast for at least a year I finally joined the blog today. I am so happy to join the community and I’m sorry it took me so long.

    I find the timing of this OP humorous since I’ve been listening to the podcast and wanting to express my gratitude for so long. John, thank you so much for the podcast. I have appreciated it greatly. And, of course, thanks to Dr. Ehrman.

    I want to commend John for his choice in reading selections each week. The readings (always from different months/years and different topics) showed the depth and variety of conversation on the blog. Thank you for your thoughtful efforts. I am so glad to finally join the community.

    I recently finished graduate school, have a child, live in an expensive city, etc. That said, the price of the blog has always seemed very fair and I love that the money goes to charity. I was just too poor for too long.

    Biblical history has always been a passion of mine. I love these conversations. I appreciate listening to thoughts (via podcast) each week thanks to this blog.

    I have so many more thoughts to share … and so much to explore here before I say too much more. However, I felt had to respond to this thread immediately because it felt so serendipitous.

    Thank you for the podcast! I love it. I love your voice, John. Dr. Ehrman definitely does not need to read the postings.

    Happy to join this thoughtful community.

  14. Avatar
    Bewilderbeast  June 2, 2019

    A century! Very appropriate during the cricket world cup! Myself I’m a wordsmith I’m afraid, I seldom listen (hush those of you nodding furiously) or watch; I read. But that’s not the future, so all strength to your pods and your vids. May they enlighten many more.

  15. Avatar
    lasloo  June 2, 2019

    I had been an avid Ehrman fan for a long time. I believe I was aware of the blog, but almost everything I consume is via podcasts or audiobooks. Somewhere along the way, I stumbled on to John’s podcast, and loved it. And yes, it is why I now subscribe to the blog and the blog is one of the few times each week where I actually sit and read something substantial. Every Sunday morning, I listen to John’s podcast and then spend about an hour or so afterwards reading last week’s blog entries.
    As been stated, my only improvement is I would love to have a subscriber only version of the podcast. Definitely willing to donate more for the privilege!
    Thank you John for such a great service! And as always, thank you Bart for your weekly insights into the New Testament! I’m currently reading Joel Marcus’s book on Mark based on one of your recommendations. My only complaint is I wish it were in audiobook form. 🙂

  16. Avatar
    bwithers55  June 2, 2019

    Podcast? What podcast? ‘Never heard of it.

    Went over to give it a listen.

    Came back here.

    -bw

  17. Avatar
    castaway  June 2, 2019

    The podcast got me involved in the blog, so, Great job!

    One recommendation: improve pronunciation of formal nouns (names in Hebrew tend to have standard pronunciations heeded experts which Mueller sometimes ignores; this one element makes it sound like it was read by some pay-for voice-over service.

    • Avatar
      JohnMuellerJD  June 5, 2019

      Thanks for the feedback. I attribute my improper pronunciation to ignorance rather than ignore. On more occasions than I prefer to admit, primarily because I simply cannot count that high, I search the internet for the pronunciation of many words, not only names and places, to try to get it accurate. If anybody has a suggestion of a good source where I can quickly hear the proper pronunciation, I am all over it. Many time I search youtube to hear the proper pronunciation but tend to encounter mostly computer generated pronunciations which I have heard butcher other words. And when I search to hear other humans speak the words, I really can’t be too confident they are making accurate pronunciations either. So a source would be greatly appreciated.

  18. Avatar
    alanpaul71  June 2, 2019

    The podcast is great – just wish it was a little longer!

    And maybe a little bit more in the episode notes – recommended further reading etc

  19. Avatar
    Sisu  June 4, 2019

    Count me as a longtime Bart Ehrman reader who recently joined the blog…thanks to the podcast. It is very good. No doubt it has increased membership.

  20. Avatar
    JohnMuellerJD  June 5, 2019

    Thanks everybody for the comments and feedback! I really appreciate it and strive to make the podcast as great as I can. As an avid podcast listener myself, I too get annoyed with the constant advertisements and plugs that occur throughout a podcast. With Dr. Ehrman now speaking the intro, I will tone down the mid-podcast plugs, but for now will keep the 60 second plug at the end.

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