TAB podcast will deliver content in popular format for listening

TAB podcast will deliver content in popular format for listening

By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist

Edna Harden is visually impaired. She can see light, but that’s all.

But she’s got quite the talent for crocheting. Over the years, she’s made hundreds of pieces for the children at Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries.

And while she’s worked, audio materials have been her lifeblood.

“I’m a big reader. I enjoy anything Christian reading,” said Harden, a member of Antioch Baptist Church, Bynum, in Calhoun Baptist Association. “I read by listening to tapes, CDs or digital recordings every single day.”

She’s listened to the Bible all the way through more than 200 times. And over the years, she’s also listened to The Alabama Baptist (TAB) through a ministry that provided the paper every week in audio form.

It was a ministry that lasted more than 30 years before going on hiatus in 2017. Now TAB is lauching a new audio ministry through podcasting Aug. 19, and Harden is interested in the opportunity to rediscover TAB again in this new format.

Jennifer Davis Rash, TAB’s editor-elect, said the paper is “excited to be in a position now to offer this expanded coverage.”

The podcast will provide the content each week in a radio-show-style format for listeners to download and listen to at their convenience. A host will guide the show, along with several readers and guests who will be invited in to talk about some of the story topics in depth.

Each week’s episode will be available on Tuesdays for download from universal podcast hubs like iTunes and Stitcher as well as Rash said she hopes it will reach homes in Alabama and beyond — and one audience TAB definitely hopes to accommodate is the visually impaired.

“It is important to us at The Alabama Baptist to provide our content in as many ways as needed to get to all Alabama Baptists, which includes the visually impaired,” she said. “We recognize that many believers within the Alabama Baptist family are not able to read newsprint.”

For some, getting a PDF version is a good option, because the size can be increased on a device’s screen as needed. But that doesn’t work for everyone, she said.

“An audio file like what the podcast will offer is the best solution for staying connected to the news and information provided by The Alabama Baptist,” Rash said.

Pam Coffey, a member of Vestavia Hills Baptist Church, Birmingham, in Birmingham Baptist Association, said it’s definitely the best solution for her.

Coffey had been listening to the tapes since 1984, and even though she has a scanner that will read newsprint to her, it’s a little bit clumsy reading around photos and graphic elements.

“I’ve really missed it since the tapes stopped coming,” she said. “I loved all of it — the feature articles, the editorials and the Sunday School lessons. I’m really excited about it coming back as a podcast.”

Jack Kinley, a retired pastor and member of Crawford Road Baptist Church, Phenix City, in Russell Baptist Association, said he agrees that an audio version would be a great help to a lot of people.

Kinley, 90, said he’s fortunate because as a disabled veteran, the government furnished him with a costly device that magnifies written materials on a large screen for him to read.

“I think a lot of our visually impaired or blind people, even if they have some sight, they don’t have access to a machine like that,” he said.

And even with a little bit of vision in one eye and access to that sort of device, Kinley said trying to read through a magnifier can be exhausting after a while.

“I enjoyed getting The Alabama Baptist on tape,” he said. “I could sit in my recliner and listen to it. I think having a way to listen to it again would be an advantage for me and other people who have visual impairments.”

In the old days of the audio ministry, volunteers would read the paper aloud each week on a recording taped at the Baptist Building in Montgomery. The master tape was then duplicated by another set of volunteers, and copies were mailed to as many as 100 recipients.

Those volunteers “were always very faithful to the task,” said Doug Rogers, director of communications and technology services for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM).

Laying groundwork

But as the SBOM prepared to move to its new building in Prattville, “we discussed the space limitations we would have, along with the need to recruit new volunteers because we wouldn’t expect our senior adult volunteers to make the weekly trip to Prattville,” Rogers said.

As he talked with Rash and learned of TAB’s desire to start a podcast soon, he and others at the SBOM decided it was time to let people know the tape ministry era was drawing to a close.

“I’m excited that something with this history and significance has helped lay the groundwork for the TAB podcast,” Rogers said. “I believe God will use it to bless not only the original audience of the blind and sight-impaired, but many others as well.”