I tried my hand at a podcast.

Wait… I can hear it now…

"But Father, But Father!", one of you will no doubt exclaim, "Why on earth did you…."

You should know a few things.

First, I have no idea what I am doing (something evident to more than one of you I am sure).

Second, in trying to crunch the mp3 down to a reasonable size, the sound deteriorated. Perhaps someone can make TECHNICAL suggestions about programs for this sort of thing, audio files, compression, streaming, etc.

Third, flying in the face of common sense, I included an extended reading of an academic paper. However, the content was so good, covering such excellent foundational ideas for pro-life discussions, that I did it anyway.

Fourth, I don’t have the slightest notion of how to audio files "stream".

Some discussion in comments below about a) what you do, b) what can be done and c) how to do it would be helpful if this is the sort of thing people find interesting.

You have to make a start somewhere. Were we to think that a project had to be perfect from the get go, how many of us would ever get up in the morning?



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Paul the Pitiless says:

    Hey, that was a pretty good podcast. Between you and Fr. Powell my morning commute should be about set…

  2. Ray from MN says:

    I also thought it was very interesting and very good, Father. Maybe it’s a matter of personal taste, but I thought the opening and closing sound level was too loud.

    Now I’ll have to invest in one of those voice-to-text software programs.

    Do you have the parish’s web page URL for Father Welzbacher’s new parish, St John’s? I assume that he has an interesting column that would be worth reading. I can’t find it on the internet.

  3. Ray: Or maybe the spoken part I recorded was too soft. It’s a balance thing I will have to figure out. There is a “normalization” feature in the software, but when I tried it…well… it didn’t sound right.

  4. Jeff says:

    Father, please clear up my own confusion: I was taught that the letter “H” was silent in ecclesiastical Latin; yet I always hear the pope and others in Latin Masses pronounce the “H” in words like “hoc” and other words.

  5. Kevin says:

    Most excellent, Fr. John. As against what Ray said, the sound level of your voice is actually too low, the music level seems okay.

    Anxious to hear your response to the silent ‘h’ question.

  6. Jeff Miller says:

    Great effort and I look forward to more.

    But technically it is not a podcast. A podcast has an RSS feed so that you can subscribe to it and have it automatically download when there are new episodes via iTunes or another podcast tool.

  7. Karen says:

    The site for Fr. Welzbacher is http://www.stjstp.org/Bulletins

  8. Andrew says:

    Father Z:

    Loved it! Sounds really good. And I loved the musical introduction to the reading of St. Augustine. I have “dreamed” of producing precisely these kinds of readings for a long time. And: this can be easily downloaded by anyone to a portable MP3 player (those are getting cheaper and cheaper these days) for repeated listening anywhere (in the car, walking down the street, during lunch).

    If I may add one simple recommendation to others who may or may not agree with what I’m about to say: friends, listen to this reading but don’t look at the written page right away! Try to absorb and grasp with your ears what’s being said and listen to it repeatedly. Then, if you must, reach for the written page and a dictionary. But start with listening.

  9. Braddock says:

    You could contact Fr. Roderick, who runs the SQPN network which hosts many Catholic podcasts. I’m sure he would be happy to help you and provide you with the appropriate infrastructure.

  10. DaveJ says:

    I agree…the music levels sounded about right but the spoken word was too quiet. I am told of a program called levelator made by a company called gigavox media. I’ve never used it but I hear it helps level things out.

  11. PMcGrath says:

    Extremely good. Wonderful to connect a voice to the typed pages, and the photograph.

    You and Father Philip Potter OP (Dominie, da mihi hanc aquam!) should keep in touch.

    Nice that you put in a “fog” when speaking St. Augustine’s Latin.

    You mentioned how St. Augustine had “excellent stenographers” take down his sermons. St. Augustine as the first blogger and podcaster — you could make a case for that.

  12. Jeff: But technically it is not a podcast. A podcast has an RSS feed so that you can subscribe to it and have it automatically download when there are new episodes via iTunes or another podcast tool.

    Okay… not sure how to do that. Perhaps I can get an assist with that when I get beyond the basics.

  13. Fr. John Pecoraro says:

    Fr. Z

    I’d would lose the reverb, it might add a nice effect if there was some sung passages, but for speaking it can be distracting. I might be able to give you some more in depth advice as I am an amateur recording engineer and have a home studio.

    God Bless

  14. Fr. Pecoraro: Get rid of the reverb. Got it. I will be pleased to hear more from you.

  15. John Meyers says:

    A comment on the music: be *careful* with commercial music.
    I look (is there a proper term for hearing rather than seeing?) forward to many more “shows” in the future.
    Ecce nunc tempus * acceptábile, ecce nunc dies salútis : in his ergo diébus exhibeámus nosmetípsos sicut Dei minístros in multa patiéntia, in jejuniis, in vigiliis, et in caritáte non ficta.

  16. Bede says:


    An excellent source for podcasting “how to” information is http://jasonvanorden.com/. He’s got some good links to other resources as well.

  17. Bede says:

    Incidentally, Father, I believe that your use of Bob Dylan’s music on your podcast is problematic, if not illegal (unless, of course, you’ve got an ASCAP license).

    Great, great first effort at a podcast – I’m looking forward to more!

  18. Patrick Ford says:

    I loved it! And the Bob Dylan song … perfect!
    Thank you very much!

  19. Brian says:

    Great podcast, Fr.Z.

    Now I have a humble request–could you give us a podcast with you saying the rosary in Latin? I have listened to some of the other Latin rosary audio on the internet but everyone pronounces key words differently. It would be AWESOME for us young Catholics to learn to say the Latin prayers PROPERLY from the mouth of a faithful priest. If it turns out to be a hit, you could even teach us how to say the Creed in Latin properly.

    Imagine it– viral “Fr. Z hits”, downloaded onto young Catholics’ iPods across the globe. Liberal nuns fainting when they witness the young generation kneeling before the tabernacle praying the Latin rosary. The future of the Church being immersed in the language of the Church via their little white earplugs…

  20. Thomas says:

    Having very recently acquired an iPod, I had been hoping for this. Now to get it onto the iPod (I’m not adept at this yet).


  21. Ray from MN says:

    It would be very unlikely that I would ever get an iPod.

    But I have downloaded Quicktime and can listen.

    I would love to pray the Rosary in Latin occasionally “along side” of Father Z.

    Then, (just what you need, Father) wouldn’t it be nice to have the Ordinary of the Mass spoken by Father Z?

    I was an altar boy in the “olden days” and memorized Latin, but never really learned it. It would be nice to learn it.

  22. Al says:

    Padre, Look into “podsafe” music. Many of the podcasters are using tracks that are from aspiring artists who license
    their music under creative commons. They want and need the exposure.

    Great job. You have a grasp on the basics. There are plenty sites that walk you through the process.

  23. Al says:

    BTW, once you get going. I would love to add you to my subscriptons. You sound good. I
    don’t sound that great…

  24. Melody says:

    I love this. If possible, please keep posting them as mp3 files as well as podcasting so we can download them. I found the audio level mostly satisfactory.

    As for the pro-life paper, I found it most interesting and informative.

    A small caveat: Alas, we are not all so great with Latin. I would have liked a translation of the Latin. The Latin by itself mostly just made me fantasize about meeting Saint Augustine, who is one of my favorite saints.

    I look forward to your future broadcasts.

  25. Thomas says:

    The iPod program (iTunes) that synchronizes the player doesn’t recognize this as a podcast URL. What I would like to see is a weekly download that I could put on the iPod to listen to while driving, etc. I don’t know how that’s done, however. EWTN has weekly podcasts for such programs as Sunday Night Live and Journey Home, among others. They provide a URL that you paste into the iTunes program, and it updates iTunes when the podcasts are posted. I’ll see what I can find out.


  26. Melody: The translation is on the blog on another page.

  27. Melody says:

    My pardons for being unclear Father, I meant that a translation would be
    helpful in the recording itself, since it seems the the sort of thing
    to listen to when out of the home. For example, I’ve already put this entry
    on my mp3 player so I can reabsorb the pro-life paper during my commute, when
    I am less distracted than in the evening.

  28. Séamas says:


    According to every textbook I have seen, the “h” is not silent. Further, every priest, bishop or pope I have ever heard speaking Latin has pronounced the “h,” as you yourself pointed out.

    Whoever taught you that was certainly mistaken.

  29. Séamas: There is a lot of discussion about the function of the Latin “h”. In some modern liturgical books, it is suggested that the way Latin ought to be pronounced is the way it is spoken in Rome. To which I respond… oh yah? By whom? Still, the “h” probably had some function more than just an unvoiced glottal stop.

  30. Matt says:

    Fr. Z,

    Get Audacity, if you haven’t already, http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/, the LAME mp3 encoder (also on that site), and watch the first 15 minutes or so of http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8341346390174223686 (the rest of the video is about a serious podcaster with lots of money to burn)

    Settings such as single channel (as opposed to stereo), a 64 bit rate instead of 128, techniques such as recording 20-30 seconds of silence, then using that as a baseline for noise reduction, and normalizing the recording are pretty much all that needs be done for quality stuff noone will complain about. How-to is in the video. They skip over installing the encoder though, but all you need is one file, lame_enc.dll for windows. Not sure, but I think linux has it standard.

    Streaming is usually live broadcasts, like internet radio, or an on demand sort of thing.

    RSS is pretty much just an XML file that contains a title, description, and link to a file or webpage (news or blog for example), which is put on a web site, gets updated when there’s something new, and subscribers software like firefox or itunes will periodically download the XML file and display links to the content listed therein. http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Feeds when you’re ready.

  31. Kathryn says:

    Dear Father,

    I like the choice of song before you starting speaking. Mr. Dylan still has a strong Minnesota accent. One can really hear it when he sings.

    Best Wishes from the snowy tundra,


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