by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Any given Sunday will find Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann preaching to hundreds of people from the pulpit of the cathedral or a parish church.
But he also preaches to thousands more from an “invisible” pulpit: his weekly radio show and podcast, “The Shepherd’s Voice.”
“Radio allows him to have contact with people in ways that might not otherwise be possible. Certainly, he preaches every weekend publicly, but not everyone can go and have a chance to hear him,” said Bill Scholl, lead consultant for the archdiocesan office for social justice.
The show goes out to Catholics and non-Catholics alike across the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and beyond. In July, stations broadcasted the archbishop’s 500th show.
The 30-minute show has been running on local Catholic radio stations since Feb. 14, 2010, said Jim O’Laughlin, president of the Catholic Radio Network, which owns KEXS and other translator stations.
“Our listening area for 1090 AM is 2.4 million people,” said O’Laughlin. “Of those who listen, 50 percent are non-Catholic.”
Interestingly, even former Catholics listen to “The Shepherd’s Voice.”
As the name implies, “The Shepherd’s Voice” provides an opportunity for Archbishop Naumann to speak. His voice, however, is not the only voice heard on the show.
“‘The Shepherd’s Voice’ is a radio show and a podcast in which the archbishop dialogues with ordinary Catholics doing extraordinary things,” said Scholl. “[It’s] a media vehicle the archbishop can use to highlight some of the great work ordinary Catholics are doing for the church.”
The show’s format is simple.
After the show opens, Scholl (who is also the show’s producer) introduces the topic and that show’s guest. Next, he poses a question to Archbishop Naumann, who offers his own thoughts and then begins to interview the guest.
Recent show guests have included Pat Castle, founder and executive director of LIFE Runners; archdiocesan report investigator Jan Saylor and victim assistance coordinator Linda Slater-Trimble; and deacon candidate Ken Billinger and his wife Patty.
A wide variety of guests have been featured on the show over the years, including visiting bishops, authors, speakers visiting the archdiocese, directors of archdiocesan and parish ministries, and others.
The archbishop and Scholl meet regularly to develop a list of show topics and guests, and Scholl will conduct a brief preshow interview with the guest to prepare them and provide talking points for the archbishop.
The archbishop doesn’t actually need much show preparation.
“The best shows are where the conversation goes where it goes,” said Scholl. “The archbishop is a really good interviewer and he really knows his stuff. The guests know their stuff, too. It’s a natural discussion. [The shows] aren’t scripted. We have a list of suggested questions, but the [interviews] aren’t limited in any way.”
The range of topics discussed on the show is as broad as the range of guests.
“I learn so much during these shows,” said Scholl. “They’re really a great way to round out your catechism because there are so many different topics, approaches and spiritualities.
“He talks about so many different things, it’s fascinating. And it’s great because [the shows] give people a chance to relate to the archbishop.”
In turn, it gives Archbishop Naumann a way to reach a more general audience. But it is a special opportunity for Catholics of the archdiocese. “The average parishioner may not have an opportunity in a 10-year period to meet the archbishop,” said O’Laughlin, “but they listen to him speak what’s on his mind every week thanks to ‘The Shepherd’s Voice.’”