Late last year, I was happy to join the Starquest Production Network (SQPN) formally after I’d worked with them in various capacities over the years, and have been the executive director since November 2015.
I’d been a listener to Fr. Roderick’s podcasts from the beginning, catching his original “Catholic Insider” series as he tracked the last stages of St. John Paul’s life and the election of Pope Benedict. In 2010, and again in 2013, I was on the team from the Archdiocese of Boston that brought SQPN’s Catholic New Media Conference/Celebration to Boston and got to know the great people behind the microphones then and at the CNMCs in Kansas City, Dallas, and Atlanta. And then later I joined Fr. Roderick on the microphones for the Secrets of Star Wars and Secrets of Doctor Who podcasts.
Since I came on board, we’ve been working to re-orient the mission of SQPN, or more precisely to review where we are after 10 years and set our sights on the future. So much has changed in media since 2006 with the rise of social media, the explosion of video, the easy accessibility of streaming video, the creation of smartphones. So much is different and we need to make sure we’re adapting to the changing landscape, so that we can continue to explore the intersection of pop culture and faith in a fun and entertaining way.
One of our first initiatives was to tweak the format of the longtime podcast Catholic Weekend. CW’s download numbers had been slowly declining and the hosts and regular panelists felt like an injection of new ideas and a change of style would help. So we re-branded the show “Let’s Talk”, and now we bring together 3 or 4 people at a time to discuss one very focused topic for 30 minutes, while incorporating questions and comments from our audience into the show, whether live or given in advance.
So far, we’ve discussed writing, summer vacation books, Elon Musk’s mission to Mars, airline travel tips, parenting kids with special needs, and wearable technology. We have some great shows planned on vacation photography, personal finance, weather, coffee, beer, morning rituals, cordcutting, and more. If you have ideas for shows or would like to be a guest, send me a message or comment below.
Let’s Talk has been well received so far with our download numbers increasing steadily and good feedback from the community.
We started another new podcast as well called “Secrets of Movies, Games, and Television”. The “Secrets” brand has been a successful one for SQPN, as a panel of fans dives deep into a series of books or movies or a TV show, but the downside is that the format prevents us from talking about smaller topics, like a single movie or book or TV show that may merit a couple of episodes but not a whole series of its own. That’s where the new Secrets podcast comes in. So far, Fr. Roderick and I have discussed the new Star Trek movie and TV show and the upcoming Star Wars Rogue One movie. I’d love to do more in that podcast as well.
One area we’d love to develop more is video. Fr. Roderick has been doing some personal vlogging and his Dutch organization, Trideo, has produced several very good faith-related videos, but we want to move more into this area. All of the social networks are pushing video because it gathers big audiences and if we’re going to be successful in gathering an audience around our mission, then we’ve got be there too.
We also need new blood. Those of us involved in SQPN have been around a long time, so it’s time for an injection of youthful vigor and excitement. We’re making plans for how to bring in more people, especially millennials, to join us. Part of the plan will have to include monetary compensation. No one’s going to get rich doing this with SQPN, but we have to recognize that “a worker is worth his wages” and it’s only right to compensate people for the hard work that goes into producing quality content. And if we don’t value it, who will.
Finally, I need some behind-the-scenes help. Most of the original board members of SQPN have moved on, having given unflagging service for nearly a decade and we need some new people to join us to help guide us forward, to provide their wisdom and expertise. I have a few people already, but I’m still looking to bring in people with backgrounds in public relations or marketing, finance or administration, and in fundraising. If that describes you and you’re interested (or you know someone who would be), let me know either in the comments below or sending me a Contact form. Location in the Boston or New England area would be great, but not mandatory. We’d like to gather regularly—but not often—and being geographically close helps. Although we’re not averse to using technology to work that out too, obviously.