Obviously, economics dictate that a radio station would not last long broadcasting nothing but the plain gospel. A radio station must appeal to the masses at large in order to produce advertising revenue. But today, such barriers are breaking down as Chris Anderson's 2004 article entitled "The Long Tail" explains:
The other constraint of the physical world is physics itself. The radio spectrum can carry only so many stations, and a coaxial cable so many TV channels. And, of course, there are only 24 hours a day of programming. The curse of broadcast technologies is that they are profligate users of limited resources. The result is yet another instance of having to aggregate large audiences in one geographic area - another high bar, above which only a fraction of potential content rises.
The past century of entertainment has offered an easy solution to these constraints. Hits fill theaters, fly off shelves, and keep listeners and viewers from touching their dials and remotes. Nothing wrong with that; indeed, sociologists will tell you that hits are hardwired into human psychology, the combinatorial effect of conformity and word of mouth. And to be sure, a healthy share of hits earn their place: Great songs, movies, and books attract big, broad audiences.
But most of us want more than just hits. Everyone's taste departs from the mainstream somewhere, and the more we explore alternatives, the more we're drawn to them. Unfortunately, in recent decades such alternatives have been pushed to the fringes by pumped-up marketing vehicles built to order by industries that desperately need them.
Hit-driven economics is a creation of an age without enough room to carry everything for everybody. Not enough shelf space for all the CDs, DVDs, and games produced. Not enough screens to show all the available movies. Not enough channels to broadcast all the TV programs, not enough radio waves to play all the music created, and not enough hours in the day to squeeze everything out through either of those sets of slots.
This is the world of scarcity. Now, with online distribution and retail, we are entering a world of abundance. And the differences are profound.Face it, the gospel is unprofitable from a business' perspective, but when distribution is near-free, business need not apply. The Internet provides the medium for distribution to the entire world at a low cost.
What we commonly think of as the Internet is the World Wide Web, a collection of pages we peruse via a web browser. This may be a step in the direction toward our goal, but it doesn't satisfy our need for distribution. The process of searching the web for content and downloading the content from the website onto your iPod has to be repeated day-to-day in order to find content when it has been updated. This tedious process is a barrier to entry and may undo the gains of cheap digital distribution.
Fortunately, a system has been developed where the content will come to you. This system, commonly referred to as Podcasting, is based on RSS (or Real Simple Syndication). Without diving into the gory details, RSS allows you to get new content when it has been updated. In fact, this blog has its own RSS feed that updates whenever I post a new entry (see it here) which you can subscribe to with a client like Google Reader.
A Podcast marries RSS with audio and video content and your mobile device. When a new media file is available, it will automatically be downloaded into your iPod and ready for you to listen to while jogging, driving to work, or unwinding in your easy chair. The effort to find the content is expended once, and from then on, it finds you.
Now imagine if preachers everywhere put their sermons online as an audio or video Podcast. You would have a virtually endless supply of spiritual content to consume instead of settling for the trash that the for-profit media shovels out. Instead of listening to profane music or political commentary during your commute, you can hear the gospel. Instead of turning the channels on your television, you could be clicking through the video podcasts on your iPod.
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