Podcasters share strategies with New York RCC

By Linda Bloom

Left to right: Jonathan Woodward, Maggi Van Dorn, Kevin Childress

A “legacy audience” from a long-running public television show will not necessarily transfer to the world of podcasting.

That was one of the learnings for Jonathan Woodward, the producer of a podcast called “Beliefs.” Developed with Bill Baker, the former president of WNET-TV who helped launch “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly,” “Beliefs” is a collaboration of Religion News Service and Fordham University.

In three and half months, Woodward said, “We’ve gone from understanding that audience does not exist to realizing that our marketing strategy to find (an) audience has to be episode to episode.”


Religion Communicators Convention: April 10-13, 2019, Chicago

3 days to go for early bird registration – register NOW

Join us in Chicago for RCC’s 90th Anniversary. We will be with our ACP colleagues at this joint RCC-ACP convention.  REGISTRATION is $395 (Early Bird) ends March 25 – Monday.  So register now.

Professional development, networking, and fellowship are important aspects of any conference. This conference is no exception.

Plenary speakers and workshops are listed on the convention web page.

Convention Awards

Award Ceremonies: The Religion Communicators Council has recently announced the 2019 Wilbur Award winners. RCC will present the Wilbur Awards at a banquet on Friday, April 12, at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel. Wilbur Awards are presented to secular media professionals who show excellence in the presentation of religious themes and values.

RCC will honor its own members with the DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards, RCC’s peer award competition, at a banquet set for Wednesday, April 10 at Fourth Street Presbyterian Church. ACP will present the Best of the Church Press Awards at a dinner on Thursday, April 11, also at Fourth Street Presbyterian Church.


2019 Convention: April 10-13, 2019 in Chicago

RCC/ACP Convention offers workshops, awards, plenaries and more

RCC (Religion Communicators Council) and ACP (Associated Church Press) will join for their respective annual meetings on April 10-13, 2019 in Chicago during their joint convention, “Seeing in New Ways: Possibilities and Perceptions.” The planning is being done by a team from both groups. RCC and ACP will share workshops, plenary speakers, networking opportunities, fellowship and faith expressions.

Registration for the convention – which includes all presentations, workshops and scheduled meals, and awards dinners – is $395 until March 25. Registration is open.


Wilbur Awards to celebrate 70 years in Chicago, winners announced for 2019

Religion Communicators Council honors 22 for work during 2018

NEW YORK — For 70 years, Wilbur awards have honored excellence in secular media – print and online journalism, book publishing, broadcasting, and motion pictures – for communicating religious issues, values and themes. Since the time when they were first given in 1949, award winners are represented by a myriad of individuals, agencies, and networks. Past winners include public figures such as Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, and Morgan Freeman and popular films “Chocolat,” “The Help” and more recently “Hidden Figures.”

This year is no different. The Religion Communicators Council announced 22 Wilbur Award winners on March 8 for work completed in 2018. Contributing to an impressive legacy of uplifting and inspiring secular media, this year’s winners include Mitch Albom’s New York Times bestseller, “The Next Person You Meet in Heaven;” an A&E Lifetime television drama, “Faith Under Fire: The Antoinette Tuff Story;” Vanity Fair’s “Pope Versus Pope,” article on issues surrounding the Catholic Church; a stunning documentary by Irish national television and radio broadcaster RTÉ, “Jesus: Countdown to Calvary;” and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette who won in two categories for their in-depth reporting on the devastating shooting that took place at the Tree of Life synagogue, considered to be the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in US history.

Other Wilbur winners include CBS News, NBC-WTWO TV, The Associated Press, CNN and several other contributors both locally and internationally.

The awards ceremony will take place in Chicago during the Religion Communicators Council’s (RCC) 90th annual convention. Winners will be presented individually crafted stained-glass Wilbur trophies during the event on April 12 at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel. Fr. James Gardiner, SA will host the ceremony and the program will be produced by Dr. Andrew B. Rawls. Phillips Theological Seminary, a community of teachers and students that offers online and on-campus courses across the US and abroad, will sponsor the event.

The Religion Communicators Council has presented Wilbur Awards annually since 1949. Secular communicators enter work in seven categories. Juries of media professionals, coordinated by council members across the country, evaluate submissions on content, creativity, impact and excellence in communicating religious values. The award is named for the late Marvin C. Wilbur, a pioneer in religious public relations, longtime council leader and former Presbyterian Church executive.

See complete list of 2019 Wilbur winners below.

2019 Wilbur Award winners (for work produced during 2018)

NEWSPAPER ARTICLES print and online

MAGAZINE ARTICLES print and online

  • National or Top 15 metro markets (single article, series of articles, religion page)

    • Pope Versus Pope,” John Cornwell, writer; Vanity Fair, New York, New York

  • Commentary/Blog/Column


  • Fiction

    • “The Next Person You Meet in Heaven,” Mitch Albom, author; Harper, HarperCollins, New York, New York

  • Non-fiction

    • “Braided: A Journey of a Thousand Challahs,” Beth Ricanati, MD, author; She Writes Press, Berkeley, California

  • Non-fiction

    • “Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks,” Diana Butler Bass, author; HarperOne, HarperCollins, San Francisco, California


  • Documentary (up to 30 min.)

    • The Secret History of Muslims in the US,” Negin Farsad, Zeyba Rahman, Hussein Rashid, Joshua Seftel, Maria Stanisheva; Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Smartypants Pictures & Animadocs, Brooklyn, New York

  • Documentary (30 min.+)

    • The Gate: Dawn of the Bahá’í Faith,” Steve Sarowitz, executive producer/writer; Bob Hercules, director/producer/writer; Edward A. Price, producer/writer; Adam Mondschein, producer; Spring Green Films, Los Angeles, California



  • Drama

    • Faith Under Fire: The Antoinette Tuff Story,” T.D. Jakes, Derrick Williams, Craig Baumgarten, Toni Braxton, and Judith Verno, executive producers; Larry Rapaport, producer; Vondie Curtis Hall, director; Laura Harrington and Stephen Kay, teleplay; Based on the Book “Prepared For a Purpose” by Antoinette Tuff; A&E Lifetime, Manhattan Beach, California

  • News Segment

    • The CBS Evening News: Sikhs in Semis,” Jim Axelrod, correspondent; Mosheh Oinounou, executive producer; Javier Guzman, senior producer; Sharaf Mowjood, producer; CBS News, New York, New York

  • News – network or national syndication (4-8 min.)

    • A Gift of Dance” Lesley Stahl, correspondent; Mary Lou Teel, producer; April Wilson, editor; Rand Morrison, executive producer; CBS Sunday Morning, New York, New York

  • News – network or national syndication (8 min.+)

    • 60 Minutes: Inside the Secret Archive,” Bill Whitaker, correspondent; Guy Campanile producer; Lucy Hatcher, associate producer; Craig Crawford, editor; Bill Owens, executive producer; “60 Minutes,” CBS News, New York, New York

  • News Story – local or regional

    • Making His Mark,” Sierra Hignite, reporter; Josh Lum, photographer; WTWO TV, Terre Haute, Indiana

  • Documentary (up to 30 min.)

    • Deconstructing My Religion,” Elizabeth Kineke, writer/producer; Elyse Kaftan, editor; Yuti Joshi, associate producer; CBS Television: Religion and Culture, CBS News, New York, New York

  • Documentary (30 min.+)

    • Jesus: Countdown to Calvary,” Hugh Bonneville, presenter; Gerry Hoban, director; Eric Luskin & Cynthia Fenneman, commissioning executives (American Public Television); Béatrice Aullen, commissioning executive (ARTE); Roger Childs & Ray Bruce, executive producers (RTÉ, Dublin, Ireland)

  • Interview

    • Religion in Life,” Conrad (Ozzie) Ostwalt, host; Jesse Jackson, guest; Kelly Hunter, producer: “Religion in Life;” Rob Gelber, general manager, AppTV; Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina


About the Religion Communicators Council

The Religion Communicators Council (RCC), founded in 1929, is an association of communications professionals who work for and with a diverse group of faith-based organizations in the areas of communications, public relations, marketing and development.

Contact: Shirley Struchen, [email protected] or 212-870-2402.


Religion Communicators Convention: April 10-13, 2019, Chicago

DEADLINES! RCC-ACP Convention Registration and Hotel Deadlines Approaching

Register now for the 2019 RCC-ACP Convention​


The full convention schedule and registration link is on the 2019 convention web page. It's going to be a great event with an amazing lineup of speakers, workshop presenters, sponsors and a diverse group of attendees.

Be sure to register by March 25 to get the best pricing on the convention. The base (Early Bird) convention rate of $395 will increase by $30 on March 26 to $425.

We've heard from the convention hotel - the Millennium Knickerbocker in Chicago - that our room block is filling up fast. Our special pricing ends this Sunday, March 10, so now is the time to reserve at our convention rate. Due to other events in Chicago no additional rooms will be available once our reserved block is filled.

See you in Chicago for our 90th Anniversary Celebration!

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