Ron Maxwell “How Knocks At The Door Would Bring Changes in Christian Radio”
(In appreciation and a little history to Jonathan (JC) Obien’s well done feature interview relating to RCS & Moody Radio)
Someone was frantically knocking at the door of the radio station on a Wednesday evening in Fort Myers. It was Byron, the Chairman of the Board and he had just received an earful from some elderly listeners at the Riverside Baptist Church, the owners of WSOR about the music becoming too contemporary. He was actively involved in station decisions during those days and that night, he was looking for the Program Director’s music card box. The box contained hundreds of multi-colored index cards, each color representing a format category containing a song in rotation. Music airplay was determined by the announcer choosing a card from the front of the box and then placing it in the back once it was aired. It was how a lot of stations handled music rotations in those days. That evening, Byron appeared to be in somewhat of a panic, interested in the Orange Cards, as they were the contemporary ones that showed up on the rotation clock a couple of times per hour. As a fresh hire and new to Christian Radio in 1984, I really wasn’t sure how the Programming and Music Director, Bob Augsburg, was going to react to random cards deemed too contemporary by the chairman being thrown into the trash can like leaves falling from a tree in autumn. Well, the next day at the station, everyone including our station manager, Bill Simon, was in shock and the station felt like a funeral parlor as we mourned the death of the station’s format.
What seemed tragic at the time would ultimately give birth to a Christian Music Radio Network and the use of advanced software at another major Christian Radio Network.
Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
In the months following, Bob’s wife, Felice, had a vision to bring a contemporary Christian Music Format to Fort Myers. One afternoon, while sitting in my car after returning from lunch, I watched our station manager Bill walk outside with Bob on his final day as he stepped in faith to begin WAY FM. It was emotional for both of them and me watching from a distance. It was a day ingrained in my mind as the two departed – Bob to his car and Bill back into the radio station. The relationship between the two radio stations would turn out to be special, with both stations showing up for on-air Share-A-Thons to encourage listeners to financially support each other’s ministry. Today, WAY FM is a network of radio stations spanning the country and online to the world.
Bryon eventually stepped down, but before he did, I was assigned to fill Bob’s position as music director. Concerned about the experience of using physical music cards, I made a commitment to using a music scheduling software program which would allow adjustments to be made easily whenever Byron or Bill wanted changes. After much research, it came down to which of the two competing music scheduling software programs to choose from. So a call was made to a well-recognized gentleman in Christian Radio at that time who could help make the decision. John Rivers at KLTY graciously gave some of his time to explain why, in detail, RCS was the way to go, and so the decision was made to sign up WSOR for Selector and Linker. The longer I worked with this software, the more I valued the program; Byron was pleased, and Bill was solidly behind the program, making sure RCS was budgeted for every year.
One morning, the staff was called to a meeting for an important announcement that Moody Bible Institute had purchased the station and when the RCS contract expired, another competing software program that Moody was using at the time was provided.
Personally, I mourned the death of the use of RCS, but now familiar with the power of this software, I believed God could use it for Moody Radio in great ways. The Lord began to bring this together. I was eventually hired as the Music Director for Moody Radio and working together with Program Director Mike Bingham, we both found a lot of common ground. In came Phil Shappard, the assistant to Bob Neff, the VP of Moody Radio, thus the Lord began putting together a team cheering for RCS. Living in Florida, I remember floating around in the pool at my home discussing RCS with Phil and the possibility of Moody moving to this software – this is where I remember the start.
Next, it took a team effort, with the help of Mike and Sis McGowen from Cape Coral Community Church (who had a puppet ministry) and Guy Taylor (a part timer at WSOR who volunteered to be the voice of the main puppet), we created a kind of primitive video – by today’s standard – to communicate the importance for Moody to make the decision to implement RCS. The video was received by Mike Bingham, Moody Radio’s National Program Director. With both Mike and Phil on board, it was just a matter of time that the powers that be at Moody agreed this was the way to go.
For me to read the recent Feature Interview with Jonathan (JC) Obien in HisAir of how Moody is using RCS today in a major way is encouraging. It is an example in how God can use “knocks at the door” to advance His Kingdom beyond who ever could imagine. If you are facing a challenge today in your walk, may this testimony serve as an encouragement to you that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Ron Maxwell is an Audio/Video Content Producer, Remote Voice-Over Talent/Local & Syndicated Voice Tracking, and a consultant for Internet Radio Streams Christian Life Radio, Cape Christian Radio, Beyond Country and Apps, Programming and Music Royalty Licensing Reporting. He also serves as President of Christian Music Preservation® , a not for profit 501(c)(3) of Community Net Vision.
Ron can be reached at CommunityNetRadio@gmail.com