STOCKTON, Calif. – What’s a podcast? Credit unions that don’t know the answer may be missing the mark with their 20-something members, if Financial Center Credit Union’s podcast success is any indication. A podcast is an audio broadcast that can be downloaded from a Web site or an online music service like iTunes. The file is transferred onto the listener’s iPod or other MP3 player, and played at the listener’s leisure. Financial Center released “Talkin’ About the Benjamins,” its first podcast, on August 31. The podcast is available on Apple-owned iTunes and on the credit union’s Web site. The one-hour audio file addresses financial education topics of interest to young adults. According to Michael Duffy, Financial Center’s President/CEO, “Benjamins” is the number one downloaded consumer financial education podcast on the popular iTunes service. According to the Apple Web site, iTunes currently has 15,000 podcasts available for download. Most podcasts, including “Benjamins,” are free. On the credit union’s Web site, the podcast had 47 hits the first day it was available, and 247 hits its second week of release. Duffy said he plans to release a series of podcasts under the “Benjamins” name. The next release is scheduled for September 30, and will cover differences between good debt and bad debt. For those unfamiliar with the slang of the younger generation, Benjamins is slang for money, or more specifically, $100 bills which feature Benjamin Franklin on the front. Using slang was important in reaching out to 20-somethings, Duffy said. While most underserved discussions involve groups defined by race or economic class, Duffy said he feels young adults across the board are underserved when it comes to education and services that cater to them. “It’s like Boomer heaven when you watch financial shows. They’re geared toward wealth accumulation and other topics for that age group, but nobody’s talking to the younger generation,” Duffy said. “Fifteen years ago, we had more of a savings culture, but now there’s next to no savings culture at all,” the CEO continued. “We need to talk about it. As a businessperson, do you want to see credit card balances grow? Sure, but you don’t want to set people up for dumb debt they can’t repay.” Like many credit unions, Duffy said his $312-million institution has an aging membership and is looking for borrowers. “If members are educated by you, they will come get loans from you,” Duffy said. However, although the CEO said he hopes “Benjamins” will set the 39,000-member credit union apart from competitors and result in growth, he’s also happy to share his message with those who aren’t eligible for membership. “We get the credit union movement out there, we get our credit union out there, and we serve a group that’s underserved. Whomever we’re touching, we’re making a difference and we’re happy about it,” he said. Although podcasts are relatively new technology, producing one was not difficult, Duffy said. The credit union downloaded shareware, or free software, off the Internet, and Duffy recorded the message himself. “Basically, all you need is a microphone, a computer, shareware and something to talk about,” he said. The first podcast was one hour in length, but Duffy said he’s received feedback suggesting he shorten future podcasts to half an hour. At age 37, Duffy is considered to be young among his fellow CEO colleagues. However, he said that he consulted with younger employees when brainstorming the project. “The name was probably one of the toughest things, because that age group loves to pick out a poser,” he said. “We started brainstorming one day on it, and immediately stopped. I said, `we’d better go down and start talking to the tellers, and ask them to give us names’.” Duffy said the play on words regarding Benjamin Franklin helps to bridge the generation gap, because the CEO is a fan of the founding father, and Duffy includes Franklin quotes in his message. “Much of what the wise old guy said then still applies today,” he said. Duffy said he hopes to increase the number of podcasts to twice a month. “It doesn’t take too much time to put together, but I’m not a professional radio host,” he said. “We don’t want to overload it, we want to keep it topical and changing, but we’re not in the business of doing a financial advice show.” -

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