Listening to voices…from proximity to podcasts

For most of human history the only way one person could hear another person’s voice was to be within what was called ‘earshot’ of them. You had to be in close enough proximity to them to hear them. One can imagine early poets, potentates and other vocal performers had to learn to project their voices to make themselves heard by those at the edge of a crowd. Recall the importance of the mask worn by ancient Greek and Roman stage actors as it functioned to ‘trumpet’ the voice. The best we could do for millennia was the megaphone. Once writing was well established the words of the human voice were mediated via reading. But the immediacy and visceral nuance of the spoken word could only be imagined.

Then, in the latter half of the 19th century the telephone began to transmit voices over long distances on copper wires. In the early 20th century the wireless radio was introduced, and broadcasting described the reach of radio waves over the world. But these early radios were large and stationary. One needed to stay near the radio to hear the voices.

By the mid-20th century portable transistor radios were introduced and within 60 years technological innovation produced portable recorded audio players like the Sony Walkman and Apple’s iPod. Now, with the advent of podcasting the live and recorded voices of legions are delivered to any internet connected smart-speaker, smartphone, television or computer putting those voices literally at one’s fingertips. Google says its podcast aggregator contains over 800,000 podcast feeds! We have come a long way from only being able to listen to the voices of those nearby to being inundated with the voices of people around the world.

Today the issue is whose voices do we trust?

Here at the Cornerstone Forum we have worked for years to make the audio material Gil Bailie has recorded available on the internet via our website. Many of Gil’s presentations are for sale as CD sets and downloadable MP3 files. While the proceeds from these sales continue to support our efforts, the number of people who stop by our website to purchase these materials remains small. 

For the past decade Gil Bailie has been mostly working at the writing desk on book projects and is no longer traveling widely to give talks and promote the work of the Forum. Because of this limitation we tried to think of new ways to keep our efforts in front of those who already know about us, as well as introduce our work to a wider audience. Starting in 2017 we began to make our CD sets available on Amazon’s global marketplace and the MP3 versions available as audiobooks on Amazon’s audiobook platform Audible. Both of these outlets provide a small income to us when our items are purchased.

These efforts have been modestly successful. Recently it was brought to our attention that if we want to expand our audience among younger adults one way to do this would be to turn Gil Bailie’s audio recordings into podcasts since this is how most younger tech savvy adults access audio materials. We have decided to try our hand at podcasting and have begun by creating two different podcast feeds. One is called “Violence & the Sacred” which will consist of presentations by René Girard. The other is entitled “Keeping Faith & Breaking Ground” which will offer selected presentations by Gil Bailie, some of which are not currently available on our webstore. We have provided a Podcasts link on our website’s navigation bar and links to the separate podcast feeds. There are also links to subscribe to the podcasts via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and other podcast aggregators.

Pending the discovery of more hidden or forgotten cassette tapes (or some new catastrophe…) I expect we will have brought the entire audio archives of Gil’s recorded audio presentations into the digital world and made them available as CDs, MP3s, and podcasts by mid-2021.

Various technologies and formats have come and gone over the years. It appears that soon CDs may no longer be a supported format by the industry. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to find supplies we need for packaging our CD sets. On top of this, the costs associated with mailing CDs, already expensive, are only going to increase. At some point we may no longer be able to offer CDs.

However, since we currently produce our CDs in-house we are committed to continue providing CD materials to our donors and supporters as long as we are able, and as long as those who support our efforts request them.


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