The American radio industry may be contracting, with stations losing local control and being run as from distant control boards if they were robots. That trend isn’t stopping a Chattanooga-area Christian radio favorite, Andy Napier, from committing to a new career in which he has to raise his own salary before he starts his first day of work — in global radio and Web broadcasting.
Mr. Napier, 47, has been at WMBW, the local Moody station, for 22½ years, and is its longest-serving full-time staffer.
The enemy in Mr. Napier’s new calling with TWR is not Christian apathy nor the disinterest or adoctrinality of American radio listeners. It is hostile states, tractless wilds and technically primitive peoples and tribes. “God can use radio in areas when other things would be stopped at the border,” says Mr. Napier, married and the father of two boys.
“The government could shut down the Internet, but it is very difficult to stop a radio signal. The idea is that God can use radio really in a powerful way, not just in the U.S. but around the world because it is always available. As long as you have a radio, and you are in the coverage area, you can pick up that signal.”
Mr. Napier has always liked radio because of the intimacy established by the human voice. Pressing the mike in the studio, Mr. Napier sees no listeners — he only imagines them. But to the listener, the voice of Mr. Napier puts him in the same room, or in the passenger seat of the car he is driving.
“There’s one person in front of a microphone who is talking to one person who is listening,” he says. He often hears people say how, in listening to him or a show on the radio, they hear “ just the right message at just the right time” in God’s providence.
Radio is intimate, no matter how many miles the signal travels; radio touches the mind’s eye. “When you hear someone’s voice, it’s an extra level of communication because it’s not just words on a page,” Mr. Napier says. “You’re actually hearing a voice. There’s a realness to it.”
Audiences “really do view us as a friend or a family member. They hear the same voice day in and day out, and it becomes part of their lives.”
TWR IS A GLOBAL BROADCAST ministry based in Cary, N.C., whose staffers use more than 220 languages and dialects to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected. Its Christian programming affects people in 160 countries by using a wide variety of media, including short-wave radio, online streaming, mp3 players and mobile phones. It serves more than 2,000 AM and FM radio outlets. It is “the world’s most far-reaching Christian media ministry,” Mr. Napier declares.
The job description that Mr. Napier will fill is one that fits his interests perfectly. He will be radio program producer for English-speaking audiences, and will do interviews and field work as a journalist and use his production skills to tell the stories of missionaries and the work of Christianity around the planet.
John Summerville, director of radio station partnerships at TWR, is excited at the prospect of having Mr. Napier on staff.
“What we want to do with Andy’s program is, we want to tell the American audience that God is at work,” Mr. Summerville said. Mr. Napier “has an incredible way of interviewing people to get at the heart of an issue. *** Andy asks very penetrating questions that allow people’s passions to flow out through their answers.”
The job is a missionary position. That means Mr. Napier and his wife, Kathy, have to raise support of F$6,300 a month. The couple also has to raise funds beyond that to pay for their training, equipment and moving costs. It’s not a cushy job offer.
“Kathy and I know that when God calls, He equips and provides, so we are also looking forward to seeing the team that He is assembling for our financial and prayer support,” Mr. Napier says.
Mr. Napier hopes that his work will “inspire a whole generation to support missions through their local church — maybe go on short-term mission trips. Maybe some listeners will be called to go full time and serve on the mission field.”
THE COUPLE’S TWO SONS, Sam, 11, John Edward, 9, are homeschooled. Mr. Napier envisions their horizons being broadened as they come to meet some of the people he interviews.
“That is something I am excited about. They are going to be meeting Christians from all over the world as people come in from Africa, South America or Austria or Slovakia or Holland — these boys are going to be meeting Christians from all over the world. This will be really good for them as they grow up. Christianity is bigger than what they see in America.”
Christians who’d like to support the Napiers in their endeavor are encouraged to contact the family. The snailmail address is 2613 Hamill Road, Hixson, TN 37343. His email is anapier (at) TWR.org. The couple say their greatest need is for people making monthly, quarterly or annual commitments of support.