036: Kid's Radio Review

Episode: 036: Kid's Radio
Originally Aired: July 23, 1988
From Album: Volume 2: Stormy Weather

Buy album from Amazon!

Kid's Radio I grew up in a small Oklahoma town. The church I attended broadcast its service on the local television affiliate. Starting in seventh grade until I graduated high school, I helped out with the television ministry. I started out operating a camera, then moved up to typing graphics (names that appeared on the screen), moved on to running sound (the television feed had a separate sound board from the house sound), and eventually graduated to directing.

Although the service was not broadcast live, we essentially did a live edit. We had three (sometimes four) cameras. Each camera operator wore a headset. Directing consisted of giving the camera operators instructions over the headsets and switching between the camera feeds using a video switcher. The switcher fed into a non-linear video editor that was used to burn the service to a DVD that was then delivered to the local television affiliate.

I gained invaluable skills while also doing a ministry. Brad and Sherman gained invaluable skills while operating Kid’s Radio, and they also were doing a ministry. They weren’t just playing music and delivering news; they were also sharing God’s truth with Bible verses. Adventures in Odyssey itself is both ministry and art.

Some think it’s an either/or: Either you do ministry, or you do art. The church is accused of suppressing, censoring, or simply not caring about art. That’s not my experience. The church fosters the arts. Some of the greatest paintings, sculptures, and poetry of the last two thousand years are products of the church. Today, the church utilizes video, radio, the internet, and mobile apps.

And half-measures aren’t good enough. Odyssey wouldn’t have lasted as long as it has if the producers’ attitude was, “Since it’s a ministry, it doesn’t matter if the sound quality is perfect or the voice acting professional or the sound effects are all that good.” We are producing art for a God who demands our very best in all we do. Whit pulls the plug on Kid’s Radio when it is obvious that Brad and Sherman don’t have the support they need to continue producing a quality product.

“Kid’s Radio” teaches an important lesson that to go from inspiration to realization requires hard work. Also, Christian art can only survive if Christians are willing to invest time in it. If there are just two members in your church’s drama team, they are going to feel like Brad and Sherman trying to run Kid’s Radio all by themselves.

The failure of Kid’s Radio was not a lack of effort—both Brad and Sherman put in plenty of effort; it was a failure of leadership. A leader must motivate others to get involved by effectively communicating the vision of the project to them. Brad can’t be blamed. He can’t be older than thirteen or fourteen. This was a learning experience for him.

Or, at least, it should have been.

The ending undermines the message of the rest of the episode. Whit, as an inventor, surely understands you learn as much from failure as you do from success (he said as much in the very first episode.) A local radio producer offers Brad and Sherman their own show on his station. They would have learned much more if they had to spend the rest of the summer analyzing why Kid’s Radio had failed and determining how they could regroup to succeed.

The radio producer isn’t concerned with ministry or even art. He’s hoping to get in on a fad before it’s over. The only thing they learned is that if your YouTube video gets a bunch of hits (the 2011 analogue to Brad and Sherman’s short-lived radio success) a hotshot producer may offer you a show of your own (that is, until the next reality television sensation comes along).

I loved the do-it-yourself ethos of “Kid’s Radio.” During the news segment, Brad urged Sherman to hurry up because his fingers were getting tired. Brad was generating a typewriter sound effect by actually typing on a typewriter in the background during the news report. This is very similar to the footlights in “Lights Out at Whit’s End.” Both encourage the audience to create. “Kid’s Radio” even especially emphasizes that kids can create.

I’ve mentioned before Odyssey has aged remarkably well. The episodes on Volume 2 first aired in 1988 but are as fresh today as they were twenty years ago. Of course, there’s a VCR here and a dated gang reference there and every once in a while a cassette player, but overall it would be difficult to tell these episodes weren’t recorded in 2011. In Sherman’s news segment, he announces, “Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev announced a change in the policy of glasnost.” There is no more Soviet Union. If kids listening to this episode today even know what the Soviet Union and glasnost are, it is from the history books and not current events.

Matthew's Rating: 6 (out of 10)
More info about 036: Kid's Radio:


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