Lessons Learned

Chances are if you are reading this then you already know some things about me. You know that I am a Christian. You know that I am somewhat conservative. O.K, I'm a lot conservative. You can safely make assumptions about how I live my life, how I vote and where I come down on most issues of the day. So it may surprise you to know that one some of the people I call my friends are on the opposite side from me on almost every issue.

How is that possible? 

I got into radio because it was a career that chose me. I grew up in the upstate of SC in the small town of Walhalla which is near Greenville. (Since January of this year I can say we are one county over from CLEMSON - Roll Tigers!)

In high school I was in JROTC and planned to go to Clemson, enroll in ROTC there on campus, graduate, go into the military as a 'butter bar' lieutenant and make the military my career.

By 'chance' a man my family knew was also the program director at a small AM radio station in Walhalla, and after just a few moments on the air, I was hooked! Radio would be a part of the rest of my life.

I moved to Chattanooga in the summer of 1988 and had big plans. I would get my education. Get better at my craft and then move on to bigger and better markets with more exposure and better money.

While honing my craft while working at B103 in Chattanooga, I met, fell in love with and then married a girl from Ringgold, Ga. Nikki doesn't do change so when those other offers came - and they did - the choice was to leave her and go or keep her and stay here. Obviously, the better choice was made.

It was about this time I made firm my connection with God. I had to decide if this was something I paid lip service to or was it real. You see, I was saved at a young age, raised in a Christian home with two wonderful parents who taught me the art and the gift of love. Love is not accepting everything a person does but loving that person IN SPITE of it. Not long after that, I rediscovered my love for Contemporary Christian Music: Amy Grant, Leon Patillo, David Meece, Truth, Mylon Lefevre and Petra. The roots started at a young age grew much deeper.

I soon went to work a Lite Mix 105 as part of the morning show. I soon made life-long friends with Matt Stockman, Danny Howard and Patti Sanders - all key people to me in the years to come.

About a year later, I took my love for radio and my love for Contemporary Christian to a new challenge - a new station. That station, RX107. To this day, I loved what we were able to accomplish. Yes, I loved the music, but I fell in love with the mindset behind it. We called ourselves ‘Positive Hits’ instead of ‘Christian Music’ because we wanted to take away the excuses / the barriers as to why someone might not listen and therefore increase the chances of someone 'discovering' us and being exposed to truth through music.

While I was at RX107, I became friends with Alan Knowles - who I’ve called ‘boss’ ever since. Matt Stockman also joined me later as part of the staff. The same Matt Stockman who was at Lite Mix 105 and who would later be the first program director and morning show host on J103. We also welcomed a new, fresh-faced, right out of high school young man named James Howard, who today the morning host at Sunny 92.3.

Within days of RX107’s sign, off in June of 1993, Alan Knowles, Matt Stockman, James Howard and I along with a few others started CCM Sunday - which was then on Magic 102.7 - which was the same frequency as B103 and today are J103.

CCM Sunday has been on the air ever since playing the best, Contemporary Christian Music. Through the years we’ve been on three stations. Started at Magic 102.7, J103 (the first three years it was on the air) and since April of 1998, Sunny 92.3.

Sunny 92.3 used to be Easy 92 which played elevator type music and outside of Luther a non-factor when it came to Chattanooga radio. But Danny Howard, Patti Sanders, and others had taken over by then and created one the most popular stations in town to this day.

My role behind the scenes with CCM Sunday has changed over the years. In the early years, I was Mr. CCM Sunday doing sales, promotion, publicity, hosting, billing, bookkeeping, and programming. Today, I am simply the owner of the name and host of the show. Sunny 92.3 takes care of all the rest.

Sunny 92.3 has been a good home for me. I am coming up on 20 years with the station either full or part-time. I have bounced back and forth between full and part time a few times with them. I was originally hired as the afternoon drive host - replacing James Howard who joined Luther in the mornings.

Sunny 92.3 is part of a radio family along with Hits 96, Classic Country Q973-993 and Alt 93.9. As a believer and you work for and with a secular company there are all kinds of people you come in contact with - from all walks of life - very few of them are bent in my direction. From day one I refused to treat them any different than I would treat anyone else. I am as respectful and as loving as I can be - at all times - I assumed the BEST in them - even when I could not see it with my eyes.

Assuming the best is just one of the lessons I have learned over the years. Let me share with you a few others.

God always has a plan.

I can look back and see how God has worked His plan for my life. God has perfectly orchestrated and guided me to my ultimate purpose in life. From how my parents taught me to LOVE, the key people that influenced me along the way - like Luther, James, Alan, to the perfect spouse that keeps me grounded - and local. (Notice I said perfect, brownie points!)

Bloom where you are planted.

I do love Chattanooga and Lord willing will never leave. The only full-time Christian Radio experience I have had was RX107. I have plenty of chances to get back into full-time Christian radio over the years, but clearly, that was not God’s plan.

Be. Pray. Give.

I have written about this before.

It comes from a set of verses in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18, 'Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.'

Be. Sometimes we get so busy in the doing that we forget that God often just wants to spend time with us. So Be. But also be joyful. Be kind. Be aware of others. Be mindful. Be gracious. Be full of the spirit. Be Real. Be who you are at all times, don’t put on airs or pretend to be someone you are not. People are attracted to authenticity - warts and all. And most of all BE LOVING. Be who Christ commands us to be to our neighbors, and we will win this world to Him.

You won't win him by standing on the street corner and shouting the loudest - or boycotting Disney or another business that doesn’t do things the way we would or they should. We live in a fallen world, and too many times we miss out on interaction and a chance to draw people to you and ultimately to Christ by how we treat them - how you love them - and how you live life.

Remember the story from Oregon, Sweetcakes Bakery. They ‘took a stand’ and refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple. Many applauded - I did not. Not only would I have made the cake, but I would have made them the best cake ever. I would have given them the BEST customer service possible and when they asked- why? Or how can you treat me like this? There is my chance to tell them.

Yes, this is uncomfortable at times but so what! There is a perfect example of this in Acts 8. An angel told Philip to take off towards Gaza and along the way he gets passed by and Ethiopian Eunuch who was on his way back from Jerusalem. The spirit tells Philip to catch up with him and attempt to make a connection. Get the picture here, the chariot the eunuch is riding in is move and Philip is order to start a conversation has to run or jog along side it. That looks silly and uncomfortable doesn’t it?

I also will not use my faith as a sword - to needle and skewer people I disagree with no matter this issue. I have to be wise as to when to speak up and when not to. That also applies to what I post online and what I don't.

I use my faith as a finely honed, perfectly crafted and very patient tool.

I will demonstrate and show love for anyone God puts in my path in spite of what they do - or who they are.

The rest of that simple phrase shakes out like this:

Pray. Many will tell you of their 'time with God' every morning at four as if that's the only way to pray (and read His word). I am not one of those people. About two times a day I will read a devotion, some scripture and talk with God about what He just showed me. The rest of the day is a constant, ongoing, never ending conversation with God about everything that is happening. I pray while driving, walking to a meeting, running, eating lunch or whatever I am doing.

Give. Give of myself. My time, talent or treasure to build the kingdom. Give myself away to others because God loves them too. And also give UP control and let Him take control.

Be. Pray. Give.

Thank you, and God bless.