Who knew this day would come? It certainly wasn’t something I planned for.
On Sunday July 8, 1979, my only thought for the future was next week. Forty years later I look back and realize that my life and that of many others changed that day. Which is a good reason to celebrate. Feel free to join the party.
I just wanted to share the music that moved me. The industry that resulted was an afterthought, one I can’t take complete credit for.
Today I celebrate my very first radio show, Song For You, which aired on Ottawa’s CKCU-FM 93.1. It was a half hour of contemporary Christian music, as we called it back then. More than 2,000 Sundays later I’ll be back on air (over the phone/Skype from Germany), joining past and present hosts of the show (now called Over My Head) for a walk down memory lane. Those in Ottawa can listen over the air – everyone else can listen live at www.ckcufm.com from 7-9 a.m. EDT.
Back in 1979 there were no Christian radio stations in Canada – they were prohibited by law. That has changed, and I played a small part in the regulatory change, which is perhaps a story for another day.
I loved Christian music – artists like Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Amy Grant, Petra and Resurrection Band. No radio station would play them because they were Christian. I approached campus-community station CKCU-FM with the idea for a show, figuring they would be most receptive. The idea didn’t catch on at first, but I persisted and eventually was given a chance. Today we celebrate 40 years of Christian broadcasting on the station.
That first Sunday I was nervous, to put it mildly. I had no idea what the audience reaction would be. I also had no idea how much my life was going to change, and how I would be used to change other people’s lives through the radio show.
For example, I met my wife through the show. She was at a concert I attended, one I wouldn’t have gone to otherwise. That’s pretty life changing.
I wound up being bitten by the radio bug. I eventually quit my civil service job, became a full-time volunteer at CKCU-FM and from there moved to a career in radio. I’m still involved in the industry today, though radio has changed immensely in 40 years.
I made submissions to the regulatory body for radio, the CRTC as it considered Christian broadcasting in 1982 and again a decade later. In the 80s the answer was no, but eventually the rules were changed and now there are dozens of Christian radio station in Canada. I like to think I had a small part in that.
There are musicians and others in the industry today who listened to Song For You as children and teens, who count the show among their influences. That is gratifying.
Even more gratifying is the knowledge that the show was an important step for many on their faith journey. I am not called to be an evangelist in the traditional sense, and it is humbling to know that through radio I have helped others grow closer to Jesus.
Forty years. The number is mind-boggling on so many levels. I set the wheels in motion, but after four years I turned the show over to others when I got a radio job far away from Ottawa. I’ve done some guest hosting and special appearances (like today) over the years, but have been pleased that the vision has continued and thrived, both on CKCU and now elsewhere in Canada.
If you can, please join in for the party live this morning at www.ckcufm.com . Or listen to it in the station archives later. I have no idea how many former hosts will be showing up. It won’t be slick – good parties aren’t – but it should be fun!