His Kids Radio Network
About the Guest
Wouldn't it be nice if there was a radio network just for children? Well, now there is! Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with Dodd Morris, the director and on-air host of His Kids Radio Network, about the earlier launch of His Kids Radio and the new Wi-Fi Family Radio that allows children to listen to popular children's programming at the touch of a button. Joining Dodd are David Carl and Eric Baesel, Creative Director and Associate Producer of Paws & Tales and Terre Ritchie, Executive Director of CBH Ministries.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a radio network just for children?
Teacher: All right, class, settle, please. Once again, it is time to begin preparations for the regional spelling bee.
Teacher: We'll have the class competition on Friday, and the top two winners will go to Cucamonga for the regionals.
Student: MarSHA – MarSHA – MarSHA!
Student: Is Marsha the local favorite?
Student: You bet she is. Marsha is the queen bee of spelling bees.
Student: Oh, cute.
Bob: Now we're talking. That's a different kind of theater. This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, November 29th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Today we'll talk about engaging our children's theater of the mind. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. Have you ever driven on Interstate 70 from St. Louis to Denver, you know, that long stretch of I-70?
Dennis: No doubt about it.
Bob: Across Kansas from Kansas City until you get to the Front Range. There's just nothing, you know what I mean?
Dennis: Well, there are some great spots – Colby, Kansas, is a hot spot.
Bob: Come on, I mean, I've been through Colby and all of these towns. There is nothing. I mean, you just …
Dennis: Bob, Bob, we have a lot of listeners in Kansas.
Bob: No, there aren't – well, we may have listeners in Kansas but around I-70? Trust me, there is nothing. And if you're in a car on a long trip like that, and you've got young children in the car, it can get really old quick, you know?
Dennis: Well, unless you have plenty of CDs and some – well, now, I guess, we have DVDs, too.
Bob: Yeah, you go that. But I remember one trip we were on across that stretch of road, and when I cracked out the CDs and handed them out to the kids to listen to, there was this blissful quiet in the car, as they had on their headsets, and they were listening to children's programs on their – back in these days it was on their Walkmans on their cassettes. And it made the trip so nice. Mary Ann and I had pleasant conversations in the front and, meanwhile, in the back they were getting biblical truths imprinted on their heart. I said, "We should drive this road more often, you know?"
Dennis: And we listened to the "Chronicles of Narnia" on tape.
Bob: You're talking about the old …
Dennis: Yes, the British actor who used to read the abridged version of that, and just a terrific time of being able to build great stories into the lives of your children.
Bob: [Using British accent] "There once was a boy named Clarence Eustace Scrubb, and he actually deserved it." Didn't you love that line? I loved how he started that one.
Dennis: Well, we have a studio full of guests here who love children, and we love them, too. I just wanted all of you to know we're big on children here on FamilyLife Today. But we want to talk about a new partnership that is being announced that is really cool for kids, and we've got some guests from Frisco, Texas, down in the heartland of Texas where the sun bakes the ground hard in the summer.
David Carl and Eric Baesel join us from a little ministry down there called "Insight for Living." Our friend, Chuck Swindoll, of course, gives leadership to that. We love Chuck, and he's a good friend.
Bob: And you guys produced the radio program for kids that Insight for Living puts together called "Paws and Tails."
David: "Paws and Tails," that's correct.
Bob: And that would be cats and dogs, is that what that's …
David: A number of bears, weasels, beavers, a number of animals.
Bob: [laughing] all right.
Dennis: All right, we are also joined by Terre Richie, who heads up the "Children's Bible Hour" ministry – a 65-year-old ministry that has a number of outreaches not only through radio but also the Internet and has a broad reach to children all over the United States, right?
Terre: That's right, that's right, we do, and it's a great ministry. It is 65 years old, but we're trying to stay on cutting-edge technology for kids today.
Bob: And you guys produce a radio program called "Down Gilead Lane."
Terre: "Down Gilead Lane."
Bob: In addition to – doesn't Uncle Charlie work for you, too?
Terre: Yes, he does. He's still there, and he's still alive, the next question.
Dennis: Can you do an Uncle Charlie imitation, Bob?
Bob: I don't know that I could do a good Uncle Charlie.
Dennis: I don't think I want to hear it, anyway. Dodd Morris also joins us as director and on-air host of His Kids radio. It's a network that was created by our friends up in Grand Rapids. You guys are doing a great work of reaching out to young people. You started this back in – how long ago? 1988?
Dodd: Back in the late '80s, Our Kids radio station is almost 18 years old, if you can believe it. It's funny, people, they'll contact us – "This is great, how long have you been doing it?" "Eighteen years? How come we didn't know?"
Bob: Tell us a little bit about the genesis. Before we get into talking about the programs these folks produce, tell us a little bit about the heart for radio for children, because about the only thing I know that's really radio for children is Radio Disney, but you guys had the idea, let's do something for kids that's discipleship oriented and, like you said, it's been going on almost two decades now.
Dodd: That's right. As Dennis mentioned, it started in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and I think it was out of our station manager's desire to reach more kids but not to lose the parent audience at the same time. But, it really was a strong desire, and we found out about this whole technology called "sub-channel" that was used for elevator music and agricultural reports and reading services for the blind, and we said if we can get these radios into the homes of kids and families, then we can do two radio stations full time at the same time, and it's not going to cost us $1 million for another FM signal, and that's how it started. Up to satellite, around the country, and now through the Internet around the world, and it's been very exciting.
Bob: So you've got HisKids.net, which is your website that is kind of the home for the best Christian children's programming on radio today, right?
Dodd: It is. We've gone back over the years and had great relationships with our program producers and with artists that are singing the music for kids and just a couple of years ago we said, "Technology is changing, the world is changing, kids need this more," but sometimes it's harder for them to get if we're just working by ourselves. So can we join hands in ministry, work together, and we didn't know exactly what that would look like, and we didn't know exactly where that would take us, but it's turned into HisKids.net.
Bob: Terre, tell us about Children's Bible Hour. You've been around for 65 years, so this heart for children goes back a long way for you guys. In fact, you're probably – when you all get together, you're probably the grandparents at the table, aren't you?
Terre: Yes, we are, yeah. Children's Bible Hour started with a little girl sitting on her uncle's knee asking, you know, "How come there's so much radio for older people and adults, but there is nothing for kids?" And four pastors got together and took that question a little bit farther, and they said, "We ought to do something. Let's do it."
And they started out just by singing and having a choir and a few stories, and it developed into this ministry that's just been amazing over the years to see the outreach.
Dennis: What age range do you reach? Do you have different types of broadcasts for different age segments of children?
Terre: We have – our classic CBH, and all these programs are somewhere between 6 and 12 or 6 and 14, but our classic CBH is a program that is including Uncle Charlie, who used to be there, and Aunt Bea, and we have "Keys for Kids." It's a four-and-a-half minute program. We have "Story Time," it's a 15-minute program. And our premier program is "Down Gilead Lane," and that's 24-, 25- minute program, and it deals with a family just like yours and mine, the Morrisons.
They have five kids, and those five kids go through everything you can imagine. It's a real, true-life adventure, and the dad is a judge, and the mom is a stay-at-home mom, and it's heartbreaking sometimes and sometimes it's just absolutely hilariously funny.
Bob: "Down Gilead Lane" is now seven – you're in your ninth season, is that right?
Terre: Great, great.
Bob: Can you – have you been surprised by the response to that program? Again, you've been doing children's programming for 65 years.
Bob: But "Down Gilead Lane" represented something that was pretty new for you, pretty aggressive for you. It costs a lot of money to produce the program.
Bob: Have you been surprised by the response?
Terre: Yes, we have, and I brought a few of those with me today, but I just want to tell you about one that really hit home, and this mother said that when they got the first episodes, she listened to them first, which, a lot of time parents do, and then she started giving them to her children.
Well, one at a time was not enough. So then it was, "Okay, Mom, where's the next one, where's the next one, I want to hear what happened. What happened to this?" And so, finally, the last season came out, season eight, and she hid it, but she would go in private and listen to it.
And, finally, on the road they just finally listened to the whole thing all at one time, six hours at one time.
Bob: Wow, a closet listener.
Dennis: David, you produce "Paws and Tails," a ministry of Insight for Living, as I mentioned earlier. Tell us what was the genesis of that and what that's grown to.
David: Well, there was a high-level meeting with the most important people in the company, and Eric and I were nowhere near that meeting. And when Chuck came out, he wanted a new project, he wanted something new, and I had done a lot of creative work with his son, Curt Swindoll, at the time, and so Curt came down into the production area, which is where I was working at the time, and he said, "All right, make a list of stuff you'd like to do."
Dennis: Chuck wants it, he better get it. Was it that kind of thing?
David: Not that afternoon. I had a couple of days.
Dennis: So you had a couple of …
David: Yeah. So – but Chuck had written a book, a children's book, "Papa Chuck's Big Ideas from the Bible," a few years earlier, and so we used that as a springboard, and we took the character's name, Papa Chuck, and we really created everything else around that. And I've been waiting for eight or nine years for somebody to tell me, "You just can't go and do that," but they haven't said it yet. Of course, now they might.
Bob: If somebody has not heard "Paws and Tails," and they tune in, what are they going to hear?
David: Well, they're going to hear talking animals, which were a whole lot cheaper than talking people.
Bob: That's right. How do you train those animals to do that?
David: It's a lot of sardines.
Bob: Eric, are you one of the animals.
Eric: [cartoon voice] Well, you know, it depends. You know, it just took six years to get on this silly little program, Dennis. Ned the beaver is a star, I tell you, he's a star. Wildwood, I'm famous in Wildwood. I can't even walk down the streets in Wildwood without getting mobbed.
Dennis: [cartoon voice] And what – oh, excuse me, [regular voice] what animal are you?
Eric: I am a beaver, come on, look at me. You know, the cheeks, the tail, that gives it away. I'm short and stocky, but, you know, God made me that way, what can I do?
Dennis: We've had a few guests on FamilyLife Today where they broke into their persona.
Bob: And we've usually not released those programs to the general public.
Eric: Understandably so.
Bob: Dodd, let me ask you about – as you've moved to the Internet now with His Kids, and these are some of the programs that folks find at HisKids.net. You've also – there is a – and I've got one of these in my office. It's a cool little device that is – it's an Internet-based wireless radio that can make it simple for a child to be able to push the "on" button, push the "play" button and get his favorite kids programs on demand, right?
Dodd: That's one of the things that brought us together. We call it the WiFi Family Radio, and there are several like this on the general market that tune into thousands and thousands of stations, but our model and the mindset behind that old sub-channel technology, let's do something that's safe enough that parents will let the kids have it in the room, have it as their radio, and so we've developed this technology that's safe and easy. It gets, instead of most of our programs are typically heard on a Saturday morning, we'd like to connect with kids at bedtime. Pick your favorite bedtime story and use this WiFi Family Radio.
"Paws and Tails," "Down Gilead Lane," some of our other ministry partners, "Karen and Kids," "Kids Corner," "The Pond," "We Kids with Mr. Nick." So there's really a variety of things for kids of all ages.
Dennis: And it's really available on demand.
Dodd: It is. It's on demand. Like, through our website, but this way it gets the listening away from the computer, and, Bob, you've got it at your desk, and you're tuning in, probably, to Ned the Beaver on a regular basis.
Dennis: In fact, Dodd, I've got a little bit of a problem with that.
Dodd: The whole worktime listening?
Dennis: No, no, no, no, it's that Bob …
Bob: … has the radio …
Dennis: … had the radio at his desk, and I'm the one who has …
Bob: You know, such a deal we could work for you.
As a matter of fact, in the FamilyLife Resource Center we can make arrangements to get you your own radio. Call 1-800-FLTODAY.
Dennis: I am going to want to purchase one of those because we just celebrated the birth of our 10th grandbaby, and I'm thinking "What a great Christmas gift." I mean, seriously, you think about all the toys and stuff we give our grandchildren or our children, and here is a way that you can pipe truth into their bedroom while, at the same time, you know, there's no possibility of evil coming through the same pipeline. Isn't that true?
Dodd: That's right. And the whole idea behind it is it's safe but it's also intentional ministry to kids, and we've said we want to catch them 12, 13, 14, is sometimes too late if you want to make the biggest impression. And if we can do this in a way that is – it's evangelistic in its outreach, it's encouraging to kids who know Christ. It's entertaining so that they want to listen, and then we give them the tools, the technology, they can do that.
Dennis: So why don't you explain how Bob's WiFi …
Bob: Did you notice the bitterness – root of bitterness in the heart of the host?
Dennis: We've been working here 15 years, and it's okay that you didn't send me one, Dodd, but tell me, he's in trouble now. Tell our listeners how it works. I mean, this is – plugs in like a clock radio or …
Dodd: It does. If you've got WiFi at home, high speed wireless Internet off your DSL or cable modem, something like that, satellite, however you get your high-speed Internet. And if you've got WiFi, just like you use on your laptop around the house, this radio connects to your WiFi network. And you can push a button to hear any one of these six or seven programs on demand, listen to His Kids radio full time, or take a look at – there is something in there especially for parents as well, but up front, presets, it's designed to be easy enough for kids that are two or three years old to find their favorite program and hear it as often as they want.
Bob: Yes, here is one of the things that I don't know that you were aware of, but there are a few buttons. If you know how to push the right buttons …
Dennis: Well, I don't have one, so how could I know?
Bob: Well, you've seen it in my office. If you know how to push the right buttons, you can get FamilyLife Today on demand.
Dennis: Well, I was getting ready to ask Dodd. He said there were some special programs for adults, FamilyLife Today.
Bob: FamilyLife Today, all you have …
Dennis: … on demand.
Bob: On demand, so if you've got wireless Internet, and you ran by this DSL cable modem stuff so quick, I'm not sure everybody understood. If you've got the Internet coming into your home, and if it's coming in high speed, either over cable or DSL, not dial-up.
Dodd: Dial-up won't do.
Bob: Okay, but if you've got a high-speed Internet, and you've got a computer, if you don't have wireless, you can go down to Comp USA or Best Buy and about $50 later you've got wireless, right?
Dodd: Right, and some communities have WiFi, too, but most typically it would be through your own little router.
Bob: So all you have to do is hook that into the back of the computer, because I did this a few years ago, and if I can do it, friends, anyone can do this. You hook it into the back of your computer, now you've got a wireless signal in your home. And once you've got a wireless signal in your home, you get the radio, you plug it in, you turn it on, bingo, right?
Dodd: We sort of did a survey of Our Kids program producers are heard on 1,400 stations around the country, but it's at one time. And you have to sort of make an appointment with that radio station to hear it. This way, it puts it on the family's schedule and it also, if you're listening on demand, it takes it away from the computer so that if it's in the child's bedroom as they're going to sleep, when they wake up, if it's a quiet time, or if it's in the kitchen and dishes are being done, and the phone rings, and you can pause your program and come back to it. It's designed to be a tool for families.
Bob: Dave, there is power in story that – I don't mean to denigrate preaching. Preaching is the power of God unto salvation, right, but the use of story – Jesus told lots of stories, and there's power there.
David: Well, I was just using Eugene Peterson last night talking about that very thing – that story is the principal means by which God communicated to us in Scripture. And there is something so powerful about story, and it's not just to adults, it is really the clearest way to communicate to the heart of a child. And Terre does this, we do this, we craft, very carefully, entertainment theology to kids.
And in such a way that they're not threatened, they're not put off, they, frankly, don't even realize it.
Bob: Yes, I've heard somebody call it "edutainment," and that's a good …
David: Yes, we are showing them, similarly, what a godly man looks like. There are houses across the country who have no idea. When we're writing our scripts I am constantly thinking of the mom who is, by default, left to be the leader, the spiritual leader in the family. She maybe feels the responsibility but doesn't know what to do. She can't go take a seminary class. She can't read a book on how to teach theology to your kids, but I have a building full of smart people, and I get to go up there and annoy them all the time with questions, because I need to synthesize these things down so that a third-grader can grapple with them, and that's the best part of my job.
Dennis: You know, what you mentioned there is important because what's coming across the air can be trusted. It's coming from biblically centered ministries that will preach Christ and talk about Him first and foremost and what He did on the cross. It's not going to be watered down. Yes, it will be entertaining, but it's not going to stray from the truth, and I think today parents, more than ever, are really looking to ministries like yours to know who do we trust and who do we allow our children to listen to and I just want to applaud your work because I personally think we have to reach the next generation.
I began my faith journey at the age of – well, somewhere between my sixth and seventh birthday, and Bob and I have this ongoing debate whether I really became a Christian at six or seven or at the age of 19 or 20 in college. But the point is, I began my faith journey when I was a child and drew a picture in the second grade of a man preaching the Scriptures. That was what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be.
And I think we need to look at our children not for who they are today, although we need to value them as children and who they are today, but we need to look past that to what they're going to become. These are going to become the leaders of the church, the leaders of states and nations, and they need to have the Scriptures implanted in their souls and hearts, and I just want you to know we're thrilled to partner with you guys and making our listeners aware of this ministry and hope that many of our listeners will take advantage of this for their children and grandchildren.
Bob: And you can find all of these programs available right now on the Internet at HisKids.net. They are available for live streaming so you can just go to the computer and find them there. But if you'd like to bring those programs to another room in the house, if you'd like your children to be able to be in their room and listen to these programs, or be in the kitchen with you and listen to these programs, then you'll want to check out one of these WiFi family radios that as long as you have wireless Internet in your home, which is easy to do. You can go down to a computer store, or Best Buy or Circuit City, someplace like that, and get the hardware you need so that you can have WiFi in your home, then once you've got that, this WiFi radio makes these programs available at the push of a button on demand in whatever room you want to put it in in your home.
All of the information about this new gizmo is on our website at FamilyLife.com – is it okay to call it a gizmo? I mean, that's what it is. It's one of these technology gizmos, and the information is available on our website at FamilyLife.com. If you go to our home page, there is a red button that you'll see in the middle of the page that says "Go," and you click that button, it will take you to an area of the site where there is more information about how you can get one of these radios, plug it in, and get it all set up so that you can have WiFi radio in any room in your home.
You can also call us at 1-800-FLTODAY for more information. That's 1-800-358-6329. So either go online at FamilyLife.com or call 1-800-FLTODAY and, as we said, this is great for kids, it's great for grandchildren, and as we said, it's great to give your children the opportunity each day to listen to this kind of good, Christian programming.
Again, the information is on our website, FamilyLife.com, click the red "Go" button you see in the center of the screen or call 1-800-FLTODAY and someone on our team will let you know how you can get a radio like this sent to you.
While we're on the subject of children, there is a DVD for children that we've been making available this month to folks who help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount. It's a Christmas DVD, an animated holiday special that presents the Christmas story in a fresh, creative way. It's called "The Very First Noel." Andy Griffith is the narrator, and we thought this would be something that would be fun for your family at Christmastime, and it would be a way that we could say thank you for your financial support of our ministry.
We're listener-supported, and your donations are what keep us on the air in this city and in other cities all across the country. So if you go online to make a donation to FamilyLife Today this month, and you'd like a copy of this DVD, when you get to the keycode box on the donation form, just type in the word "Noel," or if you're calling 1-800-FLTODAY, making a donation over the phone, just mention that you'd like the DVD for families, and we're happy to send it out to you. We do appreciate your financial support of this ministry. It is always encouraging for us to hear from you, and we appreciate you.
Now, tomorrow we're going to keep talking about kids. In fact, we're going to have a surprise guest visit from – I don't know if I should tell. All right, I'll tell, Miss Pattycake is going to be here tomorrow with us. So if you have younger children who have seen some of Miss Pattycake's DVDs, make sure they're with you tomorrow when you tune in. They'll enjoy hearing Miss Pattycake on tomorrow's program as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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