From the Pages to a Podcast

The Weekly Scottish Rite Journal Podcast Returns

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2022 Scottish Rite Journal.

Matt Bowers, E.A. | Host, Scottish Rite Journal Podcast

Matt BowersPhoto: Matt Bowers, Scottish Rite Journal Podcast host

After two years of pandemic-induced solitude, we are all back to work and out and about. We are seeing people we know and meeting for the first time those whom we maybe only know through text, email, or Zoom. How wonderful it is to be back in-person again!

Now that we are out and about, though, the opportunity to find time to read something may prove less likely. The option of listening to something while on the go is greater, be it on your commute to and from work, driving to your child’s soccer game, attending a Lodge Officer rehearsal or catechism practice, or shopping at the grocery store.

Hopefully, in the rush of our “new normal,” you will have a chance to listen to the Scottish Rite Journal Podcast. I am Matt Bowers, the new host and producer of the Scottish Rite Journal Podcast.

Did I ever think I would be the host of anything? Not in my wildest dreams or most vivid of nightmares (to be sure, it can be the latter at times). My background is completely different from anything like this, albeit it very performance-based. I am a musician (specifically a drummer … hold your jokes, please). I have played live with bona fide platinum-selling rock stars, so hosting and narrating a podcast (something as simple as reading and recording) did not seem to be all that daunting at first. Yet it is a process to be learned and one for which one should accept the critiques of others.

Br. Maynard Edwards, 32°, KCCH, host of The Tyler’s Place podcast, gave me the best advice for reading and recording that I ever could imagine: He simply said, “Think NPR.” I am old enough to know what that should sound like. Oddly enough, most of the people I know who have listened were surprised to hear what I sound like! “You sound so professional” has been a reoccurring comment, hopefully meant as a compliment! Usually, when I get hired for musical gigs, people will often ask, “Can you sing?” My response always is, “You hired me to play drums,” indicating I am doing them a favor by not showcasing my voice.

So how do you select an article for a podcast? We usually take suggestions from Journal Managing Editor Dr. Mark Dreisonstok, 32°, KCCH, along with reading and re-reading the Scottish Rite Journal while keeping in mind what would be fun to share in an audio format. We try to choose articles that everyone can relate to, such as a holiday or occasion that is upcoming, for instance, Robert Aldridge’s “Jesus: Carpenter, Mason, or General Craftsman?” (in time for Easter) and Mark Dreisonstok’s “The Culture of Passover.” Sometimes an article we choose serves as a reminder of something and someone we may have forgotten about, such as Van McLemore’s and Daniel Anderson’s article on the work of PSGC Henry C. Clausen, 33°, and his task to investigate why the U.S. was caught by surprise with the attack on Pearl Harbor.

I do not know if I personally have a favorite “type” of subject for the Scottish Rite Journal Podcast. For me, much depends on how the topic reads. Does it sound like someone is sharing with you or does it read like an instruction manual? If it is the former, I can put my personality into it, for example, Morgan Smith’s “Arthur C. Parker, Native American Identity, and Freemasonry.” Sometimes it is easy, sometimes not. The best part of each episode is what I (and hopefully you) learn from it. There are some articles which could be open to interpretation in terms of their messages (Andreas Gehlert’s “The Art of Jean Baptiste Greuze, Masonic Moralist Painter“), while others are more of a straightforward history lesson (Selmin Karatas’ “Buffalo Bill: Western Legend and Fondly-remembered Mason”). Either way, this is a great way to learn more about the history of Freemasonry (B. Chris Ruli’s “Tolstoy, Masonry, and the Prophetic New Age”), extraordinary members of our fraternity (Gregory Martin’s “The Masonic Music of John Philip Sousa”), and Masonic and Masonic-friendly philosophies (Simon Weissenberger’s “Quietism and the Divine Spark”).

Arthur Caswell Parker

Arthur Caswell Parker, 33° (1881–1955)

Morgan Smith's article "Arthur C. Parker, Native Identity, and Freemasonry" was a Scottish Rite Journal Podcast episode | Listen Now

You may think that producing a podcast is simple; in some regards, this may be true. We all have listened to the more conversational types of podcasts that seem that way. For the Scottish Rite Journal Podcast, I am mainly narrating an article. In a perfect world, I would “nail it” in one take. As previously mentioned, I am also a musician, and I pride myself on being able to master a recording in one take. This, however, is a completely different beast. Proper pronunciation, cadence, flow, inflection, and words as well as phrases in other languages must be considered. A good bit of show preparation goes into each episode. We also must choose the music and cover art to accompany a particular podcast episode and write the descriptions for the shows. Each of these things is a little art and science in and of itself. Admittedly, I did not think of any of that when I first started, so I have learned a good bit the hard way.

Podcasts, whether it is the free-form type or the scripted narrations that I do, are a great door to more education on virtually any topic you could imagine—whether it is just for general information, to learn or sharpen a skill, to find a purpose or meaning in your life, or simply for enjoyment. With the hustle and bustle of our lives these days, any available means of positive learning is invaluable. Whether it is ten minutes or two hours, a podcast can lead you in immeasurable directions and sometimes to the most unlikely of sources.

I look forward to providing you with more podcasts full of history, philosophy, enlightenment, and entertainment. Hopefully, the Scottish Rite Journal Podcast will encourage you to carve out some time to read the latest Journal and the wealth of information it provides—right after dropping the kids off at soccer!

Check Out the Podcast Now via Spreaker

Graphic: Scottish Rite Journal Podcast logo

From the Pages to a Podcast