Personal Reminiscence: Radio Days II

Yesterday, I talked about some lessons I learned while working as a radio announcer right after college. One lesson I left for today. It has to do with dealing with people.

Although I didn’t have a call-in program, there were some individuals who had the phone number for the radio station because they had been calling announcers there for a number of years to request certain songs be played. I inherited that tradition. The problem was that I was introducing newer Christian music at that time; they wanted the old hymns. Now, I like the old hymns, but I felt it was time to broaden the musical tastes. I think I alienated some of them in the process, although I believe I treated each person with respect.

The other matter had to do with counseling. CBN had [and still maintains] a counseling center where people can call in and ask for guidance and prayer. It was advertised as a 24-hour center. Often, though, no one was available to cover the all-night shift, so what happened was they flipped a little switch and every call for counseling—anywhere in the country where the main program, the 700 Club, was playing—came directly to me.

Keep in mind I was a 23-year-old recent college graduate with no real experience counseling anyone. This was a challenge that pushed me to the limit. I remember one call in particular, a woman who said she was going to commit suicide. She had concluded it was going to be alright to do so since God would never leave her or forsake her. That’s not my theology. I spent a couple of hours talking with her while trying to keep other programming going on the air. She hung up, still determined to carry out the deed—I was distraught, to say the least. I never found out what happened.

I also had another regular caller, a young girl who apparently developed a fascination with me. It got out of hand. She started calling my home, and when my wife would answer, she would get abusive. We had to change to an unlisted number.

What did I learn? Christian ministry is not all glory. It is hard work. People are difficult. Yet through it all, I had to grasp this one essential: these are the very people Christ came to save. In spite of how they acted, regardless of their indifference toward Him and their desire to serve self instead, He still reaches out to them.

That’s a lesson I have to keep learning day by day. No matter how hard someone’s heart may be, there is always hope. I cannot change anyone, but I always have to be ready to say and do whatever God directs me to say and do.

My experiences in radio were indispensable for what I’m doing now. I’m thankful for the instruction I received. As I noted in yesterday’s post, God will take every experience and weave it into the tapestry of our lives today. Everything we have done has value.

Personal Reminiscence: Radio Days I

Today and tomorrow, I’m taking a break from political commentary. I want to share more on a personal level. I guess I’ve always been a communicator, in one way or another. My undergraduate degree was in radio, TV, and film production. From the start, I wanted to use that degree in a Christian ministry.

My first after-college job was with the Christian Broadcasting Network, at that time located in Portsmouth, Virginia. Although I began as a behind-the-scenes audio technician for the television station, when an opening occurred in the radio ministry, I immediately applied for, and was awarded, the job.

I had no on-the-air experience, just some training in the classroom, but I relished the opportunity. The opening was for the all-night announcer position. That probably explains why no one else seriously applied. At least I could do less harm with a smaller audience. This job was a blessing in a number of ways.

  • First, I learned how to be creative, interspersing music with commentary, making the songs fit what I wanted to communicate.
  • Second, it helped me to focus more on the words I needed to use to communicate effectively; ultimately, it made me a better speaker and writer.
  • Third, while playing tapes of other programs during my shift (which usually lasted from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.) I had time to study. I became a devoted student of the Bible and theology during those years. I probably couldn’t have asked for a better assignment.

Perhaps only one picture exists of me as an announcer at this radio station—this is it. Notice the high-tech turntable in front and the really fancy controls. Well, things certainly have changed. My age in this picture was between 23-25. I looked happy. Most of the time I was.

I am grateful for all the preparation God gave me so that I might do what I am doing today. What’s even more instructive, for me at least, is the realization that life is dynamic, not static. Even though I expected the media to be my career, God used circumstances to change my direction more than once. Yet He will always use elements of what you have done previously. Life is a whole, not partitioned into separate compartments.

There’s another big lesson I learned in this job, but I’ll save that for tomorrow.

Journogate?

I thought summer was supposed to be a slow news season, but there’s been so much happening, I’m having a hard time keeping up with it all. Take, for example, the revelation that a discussion board for journalists was basically a device to coordinate attacks on conservatives.

It was called Journolist. It’s now been taken down from the web due to these revelations. A prime example of the activity on this site occurred when McCain chose Palin as his running mate. These journalists were scared by the choice, fearing it would undermine the uniqueness of their anointed candidate Obama. One of the participants, Spencer Ackerman, made a wonderful suggestion.

How are we going to defuse this bombshell of a pick? he asked. Easy. Find a Republican—take your choice, whether Karl Rove or someone else—and accuse that person of racism. Any accusation of racism makes the front page; this would then change the focus of the coverage away from Palin.

Another member of the group, Dave Weigel, was a reporter for the Washington Post assigned to cover the “conservative” beat—as if conservatism was something so out of the ordinary that it needed special coverage. Of course, at the Post that would be accurate; out in the rest of the nation, more than 40% of the electorate considers itself conservative.

Weigel’s comments about conservatives on Journolist were leaked. It turns out that he had contempt for the very people he was supposed to be covering. Some of the comments were so demeaning that he had to resign from the Post.

This political cartoon suggests that Journogate has taken over in the news. I think that’s inaccurate. Unless you follow the news on Fox or online, you probably have no knowledge of this event at all. Typical.

The exposure of what most of us already knew instinctively is good. It brings to light the true state of affairs.

Three cheers for the alternative media.

More Non-News News

While most of the world is entranced by the travails of Lindsay Lohan and other high-profile stories, I’ve been following the non-news news—you know, the real news that is considered non-news by most of the mainstream media. Let me give some examples.

First: Remember that executive order President Obama signed saying that his healthcare bill wouldn’t fund abortions? The one that brought all the supposedly pro-life Democrats on board? The one that I and many others said at the time was entirely bogus because he would never keep his word?

Here’s the latest on that: we are now told that Health and Human Services will be giving $160 million to Pennsylvania to cover the cost of any abortions legal in the state. Apparently, New Mexico also will be receiving funds for the same purpose. These may be just the first two of many. Republican minority leader John Boehner sent a letter to Secretary Sebelius in May asking how her department was going to ensure that Obama’s executive order will be carried out. He has never received a response. Well, not officially. We’ve all been notified now that the executive order is a dead letter.

Second: How many have heard about the administration’s crusade to convince the nation of Kenya [home of Obama’s family on his father’s side] to ratify a pro-abortion, pro-Sharia law constitution? The Sharia law part would divide Kenyan society in half legally; the abortion part is self-explanatory. Vice President Biden visited Kenya last month, pushing for it. That’s bad enough, but to make it even worse, American taxpayers are paying for this to the tune of more than $600,000. Some of that money went to the Kenya Muslim Youth Alliance. Is this really how you want your tax money spent?

This relates back to another of those non-news news stories from before the 2008 election: how Obama went to Kenya to campaign on behalf of the radical socialist candidate in its presidential election. Don’t remember that? I’m not surprised.

Third:  This one is non-news news for another non-news news story. Sometimes they pile on top of each other. When the NASA administrator announced that one of NASA’s priorities was to develop relations with the Muslim world and make them feel better about themselves, the administration said he had been given no such mandate—another example of an inconvenient individual being symbolically thrown under the bus, which happens often with Obama. Well, a congressman has come forward with testimony affirming what the NASA director said. Rep. Pete Olson, ranking Republican on the committee that oversees NASA, says that administrator Bolden told him last month that he definitely had a directive from the White House to be an arm of outreach to Muslims.

Maybe instead of being thrown under the bus, Bolden was thrown under the Space Shuttle—an inventive twist on an old policy.

Fourth: Donald Berwick, the man assigned to direct Medicare and Medicaid [placed there by recess appointment without the approval of Congress], who advocates healthcare rationing and who loves the British healthcare system, apparently doesn’t have to worry about his healthcare. The board of directors for the Institute for Health Care Improvement has given Mr. Berwick lifetime coverage. Mr. Berwick started the organization and serves as its chief executive officer. Nice to know he won’t have to enter the same system that he loves so much.

Now you’re caught up on some of the news that the media has declared non-news. Why does anyone with any sense continue to watch the major news networks [besides Fox, that is]?

Fox and Friends?

I’ve been reading comments lately about how all the TV news media are alike, that there’s no difference at all no matter which news you watch. While I know that all TV news is focused on ratings, and some decisions are going to be based on what people “want” to hear about [egregious examples—Michael Jackson, Lindsay Lohan], I still believe there is one very big distinction that can be made. Only one news company—Fox News—pays attention to some of the most significant stories that the others ignore.

Back during the 2008 campaign, every one of the other sources—CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, and ABC—practically coronated Barack Obama before the election had taken place. In some instances, they were his personal cheerleaders. In almost every instance, they neglected his background, his associations, and all the warning signs that were blatantly obvious. What did they choose to focus on?

It was as if they couldn’t stand the idea that an average “Joe,” so to speak, had challenged the new messiah.

Currently, nearly all of those same organizations have avoided all in-depth analysis, or even any mention, of the following stories:

  • Elena Kagan’s radicalism
  • NASA’s new “mission” to make Muslims feel good
  • The pro-rationing beliefs of the recently appointed Medicare and Medicaid administrator Donald Berwick
  • How the Department of Justice allowed the New Black Panthers off the hook legally even though they intimidated voters at a polling station in Philadelphia

Those are only the first few that come to mind. Yet Fox has covered all of these very important developments. Anyone depending on those other news organizations for information will be ignorant of these happenings.

But what about Fox’s penchant for hiring blonde bombshells? That’s another criticism I’ve heard. First, it’s simply a fact of life that viewers will be more inclined to look at people who are easier on the eyes. Yes, it is true that hiring good-looking people may help ratings. That’s human nature, and everyone in TV who makes hiring decisions will take that into account.

Yet that criticism makes a judgment about a person based solely on outward appearances. All factors must be taken into consideration. If the good-looking news anchor or reporter is a dimwit, then the accusation has merit. If, however, that person is someone like Megyn Kelly of Fox News, the accusation is without credibility. Kelly is a lawyer, and anyone who has ever watched her program with any sense of fairness would have to admit she has a sharp mind and tackles all subjects and interviews with an eye toward getting the truth.

The criticism also loses ground even more when one considers Fox’s evening lineup of programs. Who are the “stars”? Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity pull the biggest ratings. Not a blonde bombshell amongst them. People watch those programs because they believe they will get a perspective that is sorely missing from those other networks.

Now, does this mean I like everything Fox News does? Of course not. No news organization gets an A from this professor on every exam. But the difference between Fox and all those other networks is startling—in the ways I have outlined above. Without Fox, there would be no TV news that provides a distinct voice. All the others melt into each other.

You want fair and balanced? Fox comes closer to it than any of its competitors.

Anticipating some degree of disagreement over my analysis, I find it necessary to say: I am in no way connected with Fox and receive no financial compensation for saying these things. I’m also not a blonde bombshell.

The Silence of the Media

I thought summer was supposed to be a slow news time. Not with this administration. I’m beginning to think that bloggers will never run out of material with these people in charge.

Take the NASA administrator Charles Bolden, for example. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Bolden told a startled world that when Obama took office, he gave NASA a new task—to help develop better relations with the Muslim world. Uh huh … and what does this have to do with space? He also said that he sought to help Muslims “feel good” about their contributions to science. So now NASA is a promoter of pop psychology?

This might be even more amusing except for the fact that only Fox News seems to be talking about it. If you rely on the other networks, you won’t hear about this lunacy [lunacy … lunar … I guess that fits].

Then there was the appointment of Donald Berwick to run Medicare and Medicaid. First of all, Obama made this appointment as a special “recess appointment” since Congress is now out of town. This allowed Berwick to avoid going through congressional scrutiny to get the job. And scrutiny is what he would have received.

You see, Berwick is a convinced socialist [that sounds rather redundant in this administration] who believes wealth must be redistributed from the wealthy to fund healthcare. He said he loves the British healthcare system and wishes the United States would have gone the same direction. He favors the idea of the government making decisions on who should receive care. In case you’re not sure, that means healthcare rationing.

Of course, this story is on all the news outlets … oh, wait a minute. No, it’s not there. You might say the NASA news and the Berwick appointment are alike in one way: the mainstream media doesn’t consider either story to be a story worth covering.

That’s almost as alarming as the stories themselves. At least in America there are still alternative news sources. As long as we don’t go the Venezuela route, hope remains. My hope is in change this November.

Hubris Personified

Let’s highlight three astounding examples of hubris today—people who believe they know everything and/or they try to remake themselves without anybody noticing. Well, it’s not working; people are noticing.

Our first example is Helen Thomas. If you haven’t heard about her fiasco, you’re probably not watching any news at all. The video of her telling Jews in Israel to “get the hell out” and go back to Poland or Germany has burned up the internet. The firestorm led to her resignation as a political commentator.

She is of Lebanese descent and has a hatred for the nation of Israel. She also once described President Bush as the worst president in American history. Well, you can have that opinion, but her manner of stating it was similar in nature to her hatred of Israel.

I’ve never understood why she was treated like royalty. Yes, I know the press has no problem with fellow liberals, but she was always beyond the pale. She had the prime seat in the White House press room and was always shown deference in all administrations. This, in spite of the fact she was, without fail, rude, argumentative, and sanctimonious. Her resignation was only about 50 years too late.

Of course, she will always have friends.

Then there’s Florida governor Charlie Crist, who renounced the Republican party and decided to run as an independent for the Florida Senate seat, thereby turning the race upside down and making it more difficult for Marco Rubio, the candidate who fairly and squarely beat Crist for the nomination [at least in the polls; Crist didn’t want to face that vote in August].

Yesterday, an alert Rubio campaign drew attention to a major change on Crist’s campaign site: his page featuring his pro-life stance had been silently removed. Now that Crist is an independent, he is trolling for Democratic votes. Consequently, he can’t be viewed as pro-life. He’s hoping to get the pro-choice Republicans and independents, plus a good number of Democrats. This is the man who says he’s running on principle. About the only principle I see here is the principle of wanting to win regardless of how many switches he has to make in what he claims to support. The man has no core.

President Obama is always good for a comment, almost on a daily basis. A couple of days ago, he was giving a speech at a high school graduation. What he said was quite fascinating.

I’ll give you the key sentences: “Don’t make excuses. Take responsibility not just for your successes, but for your failures as well. … It’s the easiest thing in the world to start looking around for someone to blame.”

Oh, like President Bush?

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.”

Is more commentary really necessary?