I first saw Dr. James Dobson in a little Baptist Church at Mammoth Lakes, California. Our church was on a ski retreat to Mammoth Mountain and in search of service on a Sunday night. I think we kind of overwhelmed the little church. Also in attendance that night was Dr. Dobson. I didn't know who he was, but the young mom's in our group sure did. It was 1978 and his first books were taking off like rockets. The women thought he was a rock star. I may not have known him then, but that would soon change.
I was working at KBRT, the first all music Christian station in LA at the time and we had a music director named Mike Trout who would become co-host on Focus with Jim Dobson.
Later, when I had moved to Colorado and owned some Christian radio stations in the Springs, Focus on the Family rocked the front range by moving their whole organization to Colorado Springs. It was terrific. They were one of most professional broadcast ministries in the country and it was a treat to work with them and watch the ministry explode to 1500 employees and a gorgeous campus across from the Air Force Academy. Almost all of my employees worked part time at Focus and it was a great relationship. Not to mention the fact that I was raising a young family and Dr. Dobson was the unofficial 'grandfather' we did not have. Plus he never fell asleep on the couch after dinner.
Seriously, I have the greatest respect for what Focus has meant to this country and the world. I believe that Focus picked up the ball on social issues where the church had often dropped it. Abortion in particular, was a hot-button topic, and Jim Dobson was relentlessly, publicly and aggressively pro-life. Something I cannot say for the bulk of the Protestant church.
He has taken his shots, certainly from the left, but sadly, also enduring 'friendly fire,' from the brethren. I can honestly say I have carried Focus on my stations since 1982, and listened to thousands of broadcasts, and yet I have taken issue with the content very few times. But I have laughed, cried and been inspired many times.
In 2004, when Calvary of Albuquerque was in transition, (shall we say) Dr. Dobson's son, Ryan, came and spoke at our Easter Sunrise service, it was good to hang out with him.
And now, this week Dr. Dobson is doing his farewell tour on Focus, I suggest you listen, it is broadcast history, on 3,000 plus station, Dr. Dobson is stepping away from the Focus microphone, melancholy moments: www.focusonthefamily.com
I called Ryan today, and he is starting a new daily radio program with his dad. Excellent.
Ironically, this weekend I am going to Nashville to receive an award for KNKT as Focus' Radio Station of the Year. The President of Focus presents the award at a private dinner. But for the first time in 33 years, it won't be Dr. Dobson handing it out, it will be Jim Daly. I am honored and looking forward to meeing Jim. But just a little, I wish it were the good Doctor.
As I write this, I received an email from Ryan and I'll be meeting him in Nashville. It's a new day.
Family Talk with Dr. James Dobson