Career Capsule: I have been privileged to be part of this incredible ministry since 1976 joining the staff when the ministry was just a Youth for Christ outreach. I am fortunate because my father was the founder of the ministry in 1957, so I grew up watching the blessing of the Lord. 62 years later, we are still experiencing His blessing. In 1983, the first radio station came on the air and today we are favored to have 65 signals across New York and Pennsylvania. I have served in many capacities over the years including Youth Director, Music Director, Program Director, General Manager, and in 2002 was asked by the Board of Directors to take over as CEO as my father stepped down. Today, we are blessed with a staff of close to 60 dedicated people serving in several departments.
Rick, we hear Family Life will be moving its headquarters from Bath, NY to the Corning, NY area. Why is the ministry relocating?
For the past number of years Family Life has been looking at various options to build a new facility as our current location is sorely lacking for space for a growing ministry. In December 2016, the Lord miraculously provided over $1.5 million from our listeners in a six-week period to purchase an existing 56,000 square foot building in the Corning, NY area. A year later, the Lord provided for the purchase of an adjoining 21 acres to allow for expansion of this building. For the past 2+ years, we have been working with our architectural team to design a multi-purpose facility that will accommodate both present needs and future needs for years to come. The Corning area gives the ministry much more visibility as Corning is home to a Fortune 500 company that is a major destination place for tourism.
Tell me about your vision for the new facility. When does construction begin?
This new facility will not only include state-of-the-art radio facilities, but it will also have a separate wing for a Center for the Arts where we will train young people and adults in music, voice, dance, and drama. Another wing will house our Biblical Counseling Department where individual counseling and group sessions will be held. A large, commercial kitchen will allow us to serve hundreds of meals each year for a variety of events held at the facility. The crown jewel of this building will be a 2,000 seat Performing Arts Center that will also double as a large eating area for dinner concerts and theatrical productions.
How does the relocation affect the radio ministry?
By moving to the Corning area, we believe that our outreach will grow exponentially as we will be closer to a larger population area. Since Corning is already a destination place, Family Life will capitalize on that by providing a multitude of programs to reach the entire listening area. Already, we have listeners who travel from 3-4 hours away to attend our programs. With more overnight accommodations and restaurants available in the Corning area, the attraction of coming to Family Life becomes that much greater. We also feel that having Corning as our headquarters site will aid in attracting qualified staff. Corning is a well-known area, whereas most people aren’t sure where Bath is located.
Family Life runs other ministry outreaches in addition to its radio network. What are those?
Family Life has four main departments. Radio is the one most people know the ministry by as we reach a potential of six million listeners in the two-state coverage area. We also have a full-time Performing Arts Department that presents major stage productions and conducts Youth Theater Workshops in over a dozen different locations throughout the listening area. The Biblical Counseling Department not only provides individual counseling to many but also oversees a 29-week course called “The Healing Journey” in nearly 50 locations throughout New York and Pennsylvania. The fourth is our Events Department that works with about 200 events each year, both sponsored by Family Life and co-sponsored with other ministries.
How will the new facility enhance these ministry outreaches? What will be its major capabilities?
We’re so excited about the new facility as it will enhance each department and allow for tremendous growth. With the Center for the Arts, we will not only train young people and adults, but we will also provide the opportunity of being involved in ensembles in music and drama that will minister to churches throughout the listening area. Plus, everyone will have the chance to showcase their talents in the major stage productions. The Biblical Counseling Department wing will have eight individual counseling rooms that will greatly expand our current program. This wing will also have eight conference rooms that will allow for weekend seminars for parents, pastors, teens, and ministry leaders. With the large Performing Arts Center, Family Life will be able to host major Christian concerts as well as having dinner events seating up to 800 people. Every week, there will be something major happening at this facility.
When does the campaign to raise the funds start? What is your financial goal and how you plan to raise these funds.
The silent phase of the capital campaign will begin this summer. We have a great group of supporters who are helping with making connections with donors plus our Development Department will also be making grant request to various foundations. The scope of the project is so much bigger than anything we have ever done, but we truly believe that this is our “assignment” from the Lord. He has provided for His work at Family Life for 62 years now, and our trust remains in Him to amaze and astonish us in providing the tens of millions of dollars needed to complete this project.
In what area do you believe Christian Radio needs to improve most?
I believe that the biggest need for Christian radio is keep our focus on the fact that radio is a “tool” to be used to communicate the gospel. The greatest challenge that we have is not to be driven by the almighty dollar or the almighty ratings. We’re not called to be popular, we’re called to be faithful. That doesn’t mean that we should ever stop trying to be the best we can be, but it needs to be for the glory of the Lord, not for recognition. Being salt and light to a culture that is so far from God will never be popular, but it’s our calling in Christian radio. Each signal needs to be viewed as a sacred trust to spread the Word of God.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
My father was always my hero! Though he wasn’t “big” in the radio world, his influence has been felt far and wide. He was a true example of being faithful. He was extremely talented in many areas, and while I was growing up he would receive offers from many larger ministries because of his abilities. But after we as a family prayed about it, he would always come back with the same response, “God has called us here and it is here we need to stay!” I truly believe that Family Life is where it is at today partly because of my father’s faithfulness.