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Chapter 12: On The Air

Now You Can Read Parsonage on Your Kindle


A novel about life behind the scenes for an evangelical pastor's family: in the church, the parsonage, the community.

© 1996 G. Edwin Lint
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The "Pastor's Study" was ready to go on the air for the first time Monday, September tenth. The church board had endorsed the final plan developed by Jim and Ray Benson. The equipment had been delivered and installed. The window had been cut in the wall between Jim's office and the clerical area so he and Sandy could sit at tables facing each other while on the air. An 800 number with three rollover lines and auto-hold had been installed. And a seven-second delay tape loop was available to prevent offensive language from going out over the air.

Jim sat at his station in his office facing the window to Sandy's station. He was encouraged by the sight of Mark Mason, a sharp young radio engineer provided by CROSS to help Jim and Sandy get started. Mark would stay with them through Sunday and make sure that Dick Allen knew how to handle the live broadcast of the church service.

Jim stared hard at his equipment, trying to remember the tips Mark had given him. Then he glanced up at the instructions Sandy had typed up on her Macintosh and posted on the wall beside the window. She had used 48 point type and he would have no trouble reading what was there. But could he understand it, especially with a squadron of butterflies doing power dives in his stomach? Ray had been able to find Macintosh software which was designed to manage a call-in talk show. It was named MacCall, of course, and enabled Sandy to type in the name, location, and proposed topic of up to four calls as they were received. This information then appeared on Jim's Mac screen by means of a cable plugged into the modem port of each Mac. A unit consisting of four buttons was clamped to the left edge of Jim's monitor with the buttons lined up with the cells in which the information about calls would be displayed. Seemed simple enough. Jim just hoped it would work as well on the air as it had when Mark had been doing demonstrations earlier in the day.

Ray had told Jim they would be starting with fifty stations carrying the program out of the two hundred stations which subscribed to one or more of the CROSS Network's music services. Ray seemed sure this number would grow steadily as the program increased in popularity. Jim was especially pleased to learn that a local station from the neighboring community of Camp Hill would be carrying the program. He had confided in Debra that this fact made him feel a little better about committing some of his time and the church's resources to a project like this. This was especially true for the Sunday morning worship broadcasts which would be starting this coming Sunday, September sixteenth.

And then there was the coming Internet feed which would make CROSS Radio available to every place in the world that had Interet access.

Jim's greatest fear in setting this whole thing up had been that when they finally did go on the air live, no one would call.

"It may be a little slow in the beginning," agreed Ray, "But it'll pick up momentum as you go along. One person calls and says something. And then a second person wants to comment on what the first person said. And then you say a few things about both of the previous calls. Before you know it, you'll have more calls than your little four-horse system can handle."

"But just suppose that I can't even get that first call," said Jim, still not convinced. "I'm going to be stuck here with an open mike and nothing to put in it."

"Not for long," insisted Ray.

"But how can you be so sure?"

"Because I got two or three shills spotted around the country. If things get really dry, one of them will call in and prime the pump a little bit."

Jim prayed that the calls would come in spontaneously. He didn't like the idea of having any of Ray's shills, as he called them, get involved. It didn't seem completely honest.

At four thirty, Jim suggested that everyone in the office complex go down to the sanctuary altar for prayer. As they all bowed at the altar, Jim led. "Heavenly Father, we know there are many ways we can communicate the gospel and that radio is just one of those ways. Bless us as we begin this new venture and may everything we do and say be in the center of your will. May the Holy Spirit open my mind and give me clarity of thought and expression . . . "

The two-sided digital clock on the window ledge between Jim and Sandy had been calibrated with the CROSS Network time. As the two digits which displayed seconds crawled toward five o'clock, Jim took his seat and prepared for his first call. He wore a head set with a small boom mike positioned in front of his mouth. The mike would transmit his side of the conversation up to the satellite and from there down to master control in Washington. The mike also allowed him to talk directly to a person on the phone. The left ear phone of the head set carried the phone conversation. The right ear phone monitored the broadcast signal from the local CROSS affiliate, WMOR in Camp Hill. In addition, the right phone allowed him to receive off-the-air instructions from Sandy and from master control, with the later taking priority in case both tried to talk to him at once. Each ear phone had a volume control in case he needed more or less of one of the two auditory signals he was receiving. On the desk in front of him was a cough switch which he could depress to temporarily kill the broadcast mike in case he needed to cough or sneeze.

The digital clock now showed 5:04:30 and he turned up the volume on the right ear phone. WMOR in Camp Hill was carrying APRadio news off the CROSS network. " . . . This has been Arnold MacArthur with APRadio news."

"Here's the weather forecast for the lower Susquehanna Valley. It will be clear and warm this evening with . . . "

Now the digits displaying seconds were moving steadily toward 5:06:00.

"This is WMOR in Camp Hill. It's six minutes after five.

Then someone in master control hit the start button on a CD deck and the theme which Jim and Ray had agreed upon was in Jim's right ear. The theme went under for Ray's rich baritone. "Welcome to our premier broadcast of 'The Pastor's Study with Jim Hogan, coming to you live from the Wesley Evangelical Church in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Here's your toll-free nationwide number if you'd like to talk with Pastor Jim. It's 800-555-3737. Perhaps you have a question about the Bible, or moral values, or social issues. Or, maybe you have an opinion you'd like to express. Either way, the number to call is 800-555-3737."

Jim pulled his chair a little closer to the desk, adjusted his head set, cleared his throat a couple times, and took a small sip of water from the mug beside him.

" . . . And now, here's Jim Hogan in the Pastor' Study." On the word "study" the red light came on above the digital clock and Jim knew he was on the air. He took a good-sized breath.

"All of you know how telephone talk shows work so I won't spend a lot of time with explanations. If you'd like to visit with me in the Pastor's Study . . ." Suddenly words started to appear on his Macintosh screen: Alice -- Millville, New Jersey -- Sex education. Jim wasn't sure that sex education would have been his choice of a first topic, but with an unvoiced prayer he pressed the button beside Alice's name.

"Hello, Alice, in Millville, New Jersey. You're in 'The Pastor's Study'. . . .


The phone lines lit up, Sandy put the call info on his screen, Jim answered the questions conversationally and to the point. And the time flew. Hey! This is kind of fun, and Jim was ready to punch up the next call. But then he realized the cutaway theme was playing in his right ear, from master control by way of WMOR in Camp Hill. So, instead he said, "This is Jim Hogan in the Pastor's Study. I'll be back for more of your calls right after these messages." The red light above the clock went out and Jim yawned and stretched.

Suddenly the radio personality saw through the window that he had a live audience. In addition to Sandy and Mark who were grinning broadly and flashing thumbs-up signals, he could see Debra, Jessi, the twins, and at least half the church board. Grace Carson and Miles Abbott joined hands and raised them high in a victory salute. All at once Jim realized that all the tenseness was gone and he felt like a veteran radio broadcaster. Of ten minutes, no less. Then Sandy's voice was in his right ear reminding him he had five seconds to air. At the same time, he heard the theme music from master control which signaled the end of the cutaway.

The red light was back on. He selected a caller named Norman from Fort Mill, South Carolina. "You're in 'The Pastor's Study'."

"Do you ever take a social drink?"

And again the questions rolled in and Jim answered them smoothly and crisply. As he was finishing with his last answer, he heard the closing theme come up in his right phone and the digital clock in front of him was showing 5:59:10. He knew he had to be clear by ten seconds before the hour so he closed briskly. It didn't seem possible his first show was almost over.

"My Name is Jim Hogan and it's been a real pleasure to have you visit with me right here in the Pastor's Study. Jot my number down so you'll have it handy tomorrow at this same time. That number is: 800-555-3737. See you tomorrow!" The theme went up, the red light went, out, and Jim completely relaxed for the first time in the past fifty five minutes.

The office door popped open and in came Debra with Ben and Shelly close behind. His wife gave him a big hug and then kissed him warmly. "Congratulations, Honey. That was great," she breathed in his ear.

"Mushy-mush!" scolded the twins in unison, wagging their index fingers reproachfully.

"We have a license for it," said Debra, smiling down at them.

"Excuse me for interrupting," said Sandy from the doorway, but Ray Benson is on line one. Can you talk to him?"

"Sure," said Jim, punching the winking button on his regular desk phone. "Hello, Ray, in Washington, DC. You're in 'The Pastor's Study'." Both men laughed.

"Jim, you were a natural! Everyone down here in master control is talking about what a great job you did. Not only in delivery, but in content. I know you preacher types don't think in terms of profit margins but this thing is going to sell. I guarantee it!"

"I'm glad it sounded okay on the air. And if it did, to God be the glory," said Jim sincerely.

"Well, keep up the good work, my friend, and we'll be praying for you and pulling for you at this end. See you tomorrow afternoon at five?"

"I'll be right here," Jim promised, feeling pretty good about the whole thing.

When Jim had realized that the tone of the conversation was going to be positive, he switched on the phone speaker so Debra and the twins could listen. As soon as he hung up, he got another wifely hug, augmented by a fierce hug around each leg from Ben and Shelly. Everyone quickly agreed that dinner at the Outback Steak House was definitely called for.

Parsonage Table of Contents
Links to Other Resources

About the DiskBooks copyright
How to Download DiskBooks Files
Return to Parsonage Home Page
Return to DiskBooks Home Page
How to Order Disk Copies

Send E-Mail


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