Would anyone be interested in starting a weekly Parashat Hashavua' podcast in a format similar to the one used in Slate Magazine's various "gabfest" podcasts?1 Please keep reading for more details, then fill out this form (also linked below), if you want to participate.

The idea would be to bring back the sort of open conversations about the Parasha that once went on in our Parashat Hashavua' Chats, but in an audio format instead of text, and with the chat being scheduled to work with a predetermined (but variable) small cadre of participants instead of being open to all but not guaranteed convenient for any.

The expected benefits would be:

  • The participants learn Torah together (valuable in and of itself).

  • The podcast gives people Torah to listen to in a format that has proven compelling but hasn't been used much (as far as I know) in Torah podcasting.

  • To the extent that the podcast picks up popularity outside the Mi Yodeya world, it serves as a promotion for Mi Yodeya.2

The "gabfest"3 format is something like:

  • Cast:

    • A host who manages stuff like introductions, time limits, and keeping the conversation going, but is otherwise a regular participant.

    • 2-3 other participants

    • Usually, it's the same 3-4 regulars, but occasionally, there's a substitute for one or more of them, and occasionally, a special guest is brought on for all or part of the show.

  • Agenda:

    • Introductions of all participants and topics to be discussed, along with brief small talk.

    • About three segments, in each of which a participant introduces a topic, and then everyone has an open conversation about it.

    • Some sort of parting shots, in which each participant briefly mentions something off-topic (although usually related to the overall subject of the show) but that caught his/her attention in the past week, e.g. "cocktail chatter" on the political gabfest or "endorsements" on the culture gabfest.

    • Sign-off.

In a Parashat Hashavua' gabfest, the segments could each simply be a single story/issue/law in the Parasha or Haftara, and the introduction to it could be as simple as laying down the bare bones, e.g. "Topic one is the reason for the Flood, which is given in Bereishit/Genesis 6:11-12 as the world being corrupt and full of violence." Or, whoever's tasked with introducing it could come up with a thought-provoking question or mini-devar-Torah to get things started. Or, the whole thing could be left more free-wheeling to cut down on overhead.

For parting shots, I'd imagine that people could recommend an interesting shiur or Torah blog post, talk about an interesting Halachic situation they ran into, point out a particularly interesting recent question on Mi Yodeya, or the like.

For cast, I think it'd make sense to have a group of 3-4 regulars and a few alternates. The regulars would try to schedule the recording around their schedules each week, and if one or more aren't available, an alternate would be asked to come in instead.

Technologies potentially available to do this without additional expertise or equipment include BlogTalkRadio (which we used for the Launch Party), Skype, and Google Hangouts.

So, anyone interested in doing this? If so, please fill out this form. The responses will go to me, and I won't share any information provided without permission. Here's how many people have filled it out so far:

Number of potential regulars Number of potential participants

Ideas for what to do and how to do it welcome as answers here.

1) I'm sure similar formats are used in various other outlets, but I'm most familiar with a few on Slate.

2) This proposal is an alternative to this old one that I think could prove more workable and compelling.

3)I'm using lots of quotation marks around "gabfest" because I suspect that the term, at least in the podcasting context, is sort-of owned by Slate (perhaps morally if not by trademark), so I think we'd probably not use it as part of the actual name for the show.

I like this idea. I think it would help things flow if the participants decide in advance (in broad outline) what topics the major segments will cover, so they can be prepared and avoid the long lulls we've seen in parsha chat where someone brings up a topic and we all go "um, lemme look some things up" for several minutes. :-) (In chat you can have intertwined conversations, so while one person is off looking things up others can talk about other things, but that doesn't work in a podcast unless you're doing lots of post-production editing.) –  Monica Cellio Oct 21 '12 at 14:03
Yeah; I think the topics ought to be chosen ahead of time. It could be as lightweight as at (or right after) the end of one show, everyone flipping forward in their chumashim and each picking something. I think that a little bit of editing to take out dead air, at least, shouldn't be out of the question, though we may be able to get away with raw phone conversations if we manage them well. –  Isaac Moses Oct 21 '12 at 14:29
@MonicaCellio, Thanks for the suggestions. Would you like to sign up? –  Isaac Moses Oct 21 '12 at 19:56
@msh210, Thanks for featuring this post. Would you like to sign up? –  Isaac Moses Oct 21 '12 at 19:57
This might also lead to something to blog about (but I unfortunately am not able to sign up) –  b a Oct 21 '12 at 21:41
@ba Absolutely. If we get this going, I think it would be logical to distribute it as an SE blog. –  Isaac Moses Oct 21 '12 at 22:07
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