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Backus: Students produce podcast about Christian education

Zack McAllister monitors the sound as Faith Hamson guides first and second grade students who are reading the news during their podcast. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal1 / 4
Second grader Aero Ecker, third grader Carlisle MItchell, first grader Dometrius Anderson and second grader Ryder McAllister read the news for a podcast while cohost and producer Faith Hamson guides them. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal2 / 4
Faith Hamson directs young students who are preparing to read the news. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal3 / 4
Faith Hamson directs young students who are preparing to read the news. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal4 / 4

If you have ever had questions about Christian schools or wondered how they work, Pastor Blair Ecker and his students at Pine Mountain Christian Academy in Backus have just the podcast for you.

Since the beginning of the school year a team of students at the academy has been running Christian School Radio, a podcast program that shares with the outside world the inner-workings of Christian education in homes, churches and schools.

"So, we've kind of talked about how our Christian education isn't just about Christian school and homeschooling, but it's so much more than that," said student producer and co-host Faith Hamson. "It's youth groups and camp ministries and everything that ties into proverbs where it says, 'Train up a child in the way that he should go.' So we base all of our podcasts off of that."

Hamson was only one talent tapped to make the podcast a reality. While Ecker may serve as host of the show, three students handle many of the challenging aspects, such as finding and organizing interviews, editing, doing sound management and uploading the finished product. Ecker sought students who showed a knack for these skills. The "sound guys" - Zack McAllister and Jonathan Fritze - were chosen because of past experiences. McAllister has been managing sound for church services for about the last year while Fritze has a passion and classroom training in technology that prepared him for editing sound files.

The team worked together to research the needs of the podcast. They bought the equipment from eBay and created an outline to follow for each show. After that it has all been about keeping a regular schedule to draw in listeners.

"We try to do one episode every Friday," McAllister said. "We are trying to get a system once we get caught up in editing podcasts where we record Wednesday, edit on Thursday and upload on Friday."

Each week includes news read by first- and second-grade students, prayers and a guest interview.

"We've had pastors, school teachers, people from the curriculum and even a radio DJ named Evan Wilson," McAllister said. "There was one where we traveled to another Christian school and talked to Mary Brach. She is at a Christian school that didn't have Christ in it and talked about how she got Christ back into it and how important it is for a school to have Christ in it."

"The school was a Christian school in name only," Hamson said. "She talked about how she reintroduced Christ into the school."

After the recording is finished, then comes editing.

"As far as the editing, it takes about an hour to edit 20 minutes and podcasts are about 40 minutes long roughly, so it takes about two hours to edit one podcast episode," Fritze said. "Then Zack usually uploads it to our publisher and the rest is history."

Since the beginning of the podcast the team has improved in many ways. They found an optimal setup for the best possible sound. They have learned about editing with a new system and they have grown in confidence for their interviews as well.

The end product can either be found by following links from the Christian School Radio Facebook page or going straight to Christianschoolradio.libsyn.com.

The team has lots of hopes for the program as far as future guests, expansion of the shows into video and upgraded equipment.

"One of my visions is to mainly encourage people to get excited about Christian education," Hamson said. "Not just Christian schools and homeschooling, but to involve your child in youth group or somewhere they are learning and receiving what they need to know about God so they can grow up to be good strong Christian leaders. Some of the guests we'd like to do are some famous Christian comedians or Sadie Robinson."

"I think it would be nice to go into a video form in the future too," McAllister said. "Maybe we could even live stream our podcast. I would like to maybe get more famous Christian preachers in too and hopefully even some singers would be really nice."

"Personally, I'd like better equipment. I'm satisfied with what we have so far, but it would be nice to have crisp, clean sound too," Fritze said.

Hamson had a request.

"I would ask if you could please pray for our podcast and for the future," Hamson said.

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