Hillsboro area man broadcasts popular radio show from his ranch | Local News
A long-running radio show and podcast heard by about 3 million people each year comes from an 80-acre ranch north of Hillsboro each week.
âWhite Horse Inn,â a weekly discussion on theological topics, has been airing since 1990. In recent months, its host, Shane Rosenthal, has overseen the broadcast from his Hillsboro area property.
âNot many people know we’re here,â said Rosenthal, 56, who produced the show from the start and took over as host earlier this year.
The show, originally directed by Michael Horton, will exceed 1,550 episodes by the end of the year. It can be heard on over 50 radio stations as well as as a podcast and on the whitehorseinn.org website.
âWe are on two stations in Canada and one in the Philippines,â Rosenthal said. “If you only count podcasts, we know we get 20,000 downloads per week on average.”
Locally, the show can be heard on KFUO-AM in St. Louis.
A recent week, the podcast was ranked in the top 50 downloads on the iTunes Religious and Spiritual Podcast Rankings, with productions from Joyce Meyer, Rick Warren and Tony Evans.
Make no mistake, “White Horse Inn” is not designed and produced for a mass audience, but for those who want to analyze modern religion, its history and its spirituality. The name of the program is reminiscent of the White Horse Inn, a tavern in Cambridge, England, where the English Reformation took root in the early 1500s.
âOur goal is to educate you on what you believe and why you believe it,â Rosenthal said. âWe talk a lot about faith and modern culture. We believe that many forms of Christianity today are in need of reform, that many churches today offer cotton candy religion and entertainment.
âWe’re a little concerned that American Christianity is about as confused as it was before the Reformation days,â he said.
A return to âthis religion of yesteryear?
âI don’t think I would call it an ancient religion, in terms that people understand ancient religion to mean about 100 years ago. We want to go back 2,000 years and examine the biblical texts in terms of how the Jews of the first century (AD) approached it.
The program has traditionally been a roundtable among academics, but since Rosenthal took over – just as the global pandemic was setting in earlier this year – the format has changed.
âI used to go to California to set up the programs, but it’s not practical this year,â he said. âWe can’t do roundtables anymore, so I’m mainly discussing this week’s topic with one person, either by phone or Zoom (video conference),â he said.
Rosenthal discusses modern and historical theology with Oxford scholars and other prominent theologians.
âWe’re going to do a show on social media and on TV soon, and how technology has changed the way we think,â he said. âToday, we are more interested in images than text. How has this changed us, and how has it changed religion?
Rosenthal said a companion show and podcast called “Core Christianity,” which he helped develop, covered more of the basics.
âI would say my show is more of an intermediate to advanced level,â he said. âBut when we discuss these topics, I try to keep them grounded and accessible to the public. “
In December, the show rebroadcasts a series on the incarnation for Christmas – programs hosted by Horton.
Rosenthal has set up a link for Leader readers who wish to hear some of its shows on whitehorseinn.org/leader.
Originally from California, Rosenthal received a BA in Liberal Studies from California State-Fullerton and an MA in Historical Theology from Westminster Seminary California in Escondido.
âI was thinking about pastoral work at the time, but I discovered that I really liked the media and teaching,â he said.
Horton, the original host, was one of his instructors at Westminster and this connection led Rosenthal to become the producer of “White Horse Inn”.
âIn the beginning, producing what was a live radio show was about setting up interviews, arranging the transition (transition) music, and taking phone calls from listeners. Over the years we’ve moved away from the live element and there’s been a lot more writing like preparing questions and editing the program, âhe said.
After Horton decided to step down to focus on teaching, Rosenthal became the host but continued as a producer.
âI’m kind of like the guy who plays kazoo and drums at the same time,â he said.
Rosenthal and his wife, Heidi, and their four children moved to Hillsboro from Pennsylvania in 2008.
âShe wanted to be closer to her family in Cape Girardeau, and her parents had a carrot hanging in front of us – they had an investment property in Hillsboro that they could let us have. We built a big house there.
âThe third floor is where my office is, and it’s a buffer against all the noise of the family and the barking of the dogs when the Federal Express truck shows up,â he said.
âAnd we have, yes, white horses,â he said. “It’s a little ironic that way.”