years at the helm of the enormously popular national radio show Catholic Answers Live, Patrick Coffin is
stepping into the life entrepreneurial. A new media platform, led by a podcast
called The Patrick Coffin Show, is
now being launched through the
Indiegogo crowd-funding site.
spoke with Catholic World Report about
looking back, and moving forward.
CWR: First, congratulations on your new venture. It sounds
like it’s going to hit a nerve, in a good way.
Patrick Coffin: Thank you, yes, I am stoked to launch this
CWR: Would you say it’s a radical departure from your work at
Coffin: Not a radical departure, more of an
extension of what I’ve been doing during my time as host of the live show and
our year-old podcast, Catholic Answers
Focus. I am profoundly grateful to Catholic Answers for giving me a shot at
hosting what the station managers across the country tell me is a consistently
high-quality and popular show. Believe me, it’s a hard gig to walk away from.
CWR: How did you get the idea for your own show?
Coffin: Interestingly enough, it was venturing into
the podcast world with Focus that
made an inner lightbulb go off. I have loved addressing broader cultural
questions, as I did with racism in my interview with Kevin Costner, or the
power of faith and testimony with Joseph Fiennes, or the evangelical effects of
music with Sir James MacMillan, the UK’s top composer. The idea began to
germinate about going solo and building a media platform aimed at renewing the
culture by renewing the person in the mirror.
CWR: Tell us more. What kinds of guests and topics will the
new show feature?
Coffin: Well, I’m expanding outward from the center.
In this case, the center is what I’m best known forapologetics and
evangelization. As a Catholic, those will always be close to my heart. But
there is a way to reach people that isn’t direct, “on the nose,”
evangelization. So I will be interviewing top social influencers in the areas
of self-transformation, time management, better ways of dealing with marital
conflict, new approaches to addiction, intentional leadership, and how to
disagree in the public square without succumbing to the kind of toxic discourse
we see taking root. I’m interviewing David Allen, who wrote Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free
Productivity; James Hoggan, I’m Right
and You’re An Idiot; memory improvement expert Harry Lorayne; and the poet laureate
of California, Dana Gioia. For starterslet me keep a bit of mystery!
CWR: So it won’t be Catholic media, per se?
Coffin: Not really, if Catholic media is defined as
explicit preaching and catechesis. I hope people don’t conclude that I’m
leaving the Faith behind or anything resembling that. God forbid. What I want
to do is create content that you can hear on iTunes and watch on YouTube that
is fantastic, valuable, and that resonates with people who are tired of the way
corporate media couches all events and issues: through the lens of politics.
The talk radio industry is fueled by non-stop fighting about politics and
politicians. Newspapers and TV networks, when covering religion, also rely on
the tired left-right rhetorical model when they cover controversies within the
Church. Everything is about conservative this versus liberal that. The idea
that some ideas are true or false doesn’t occur to religion reporters hired by
major newspapers or TV producers.
CWR: But how do you change that?
Coffin: You start by going upstream to the question
of culture. All these fightsand you can add gay marriage, abortion, no-fault
divorce, pornography, public education, the court systemare downstream from
culture. This is reflected in the word “culture,” which comes from a Latin root
meaning to till, but also to worship. Politicians, lawmakers, film directors,
TV moguls, artists, CEOsthey all grew up in families. They have an original
context that formed them morally and intellectually for good or for ill. So the
new media platform I am building is devoted to the formation and transformation
of the human person. It all starts right here: prior to marriage, prior to
parenthood, prior to career choices, we are persons. And all persons, according
to Aristotle and the Western realist tradition, naturally seek happiness. So I
want to explore the difference between that which results in real, lasting
happiness and the false substitutes that parade as the real thing.
CWR: It sounds like you’re going after the causes of the
disease rather than cleaning up the symptoms.
Coffin: That is a very good way to say it.
CWR: Who do you consider role models?
Coffin: Great question. On the interview-skill side,
I’m old school. I admire the way Jack Paar conducted interviews by making sure
they weren’t “interviews,” but great conversations overheard by others, namely
the audience. Dick Cavett is another. Actually, Cavett used to write for The Jack Paar Show and happens to be on
my wish-list of guests for The Patrick
Coffin Show. In the Catholic media sphere, my favorite has to be Al Kresta,
who is as good or better than any “secular host.” He has a knack for getting
behind the news, tracking the deeper trends at play, and he gets to the heart
of what the listener needs to know. He’s also smarter than most of his guestsand
his guests skew very smart!
My patron and
spiritual father, however, is Ven. Fulton J. Sheen. We share not only an odd
physical resemblance, but also a wide spectrum of interests, from the worlds of
literature, history, and psychology, to art, philosophy, and, of course,
theology. Sheen was a master communicator and master of the media forms he
utilized. He and Chesterton were good friendsin fact, Sheen attended G.K.’s
funeral in 1936. His Excellency was also the first televangelist, when it still
had a good name.
CWR: What else will the platform provide?
Coffin: The main home-base is www.patrickcoffin.media, which will
be linked it a sister YouTube channel. I’ll also be doing commentary on the
news and cultural trends, and a myth-busting video series. I’m open to
collaboration with other medial outlets, including syndication on terrestrial
radio. The digital space is ever-evolving and morphing, so today’s expert predictions
become the butt of tomorrow’s joke. My watchword is “open.” The first stage,
though, is to build it as a membership site with additional exclusive content
CWR: How can people stay connected and help you launch?
Coffin: It’s very simple. I created a short pitch
video, a brief description of the mission, and some sweet perks as a way of
thanking my beloved backers, here. The minimum giving level is only $5, but I’ll take an
extra prayer as well.