As I noted yesterday, today marks the last day that Dr. Dobson is at Focus on the Family (read more here). And today’s broadcast is the final time Dr. Dobson is in studio while still at the ministry. Of course, he will be back with us to share with listeners about his new book, Bringing Up Girls, which is slated to be released in mid-April. Today, though, we’ll go back through the years — and also look ahead.
Earlier this week our broadcast staff gathered in “Studio A” for a private time with the Founder, going back over the years and memories we’ve enjoyed as we’ve worked for and with Dr. Dobson. This team knows him as well as any other part of the ministry might, probably better than most. Our working relationship with Dr. Dobson has involved numerous urgent, important projects…situations in which we had to hammer out a creative, excellent broadcast on a tight deadline with no room for error. That kind of “fire” forges strong friendships and enables a group of people to draw near to each other in ways that forced “team development” cannot. The room was full, and we could have talked for hours. As it was, we did have about an hour to reflect, think through some of the highlights, and laugh about some of the really humorous moments we’ve shared. It was a rich time, and we concluded with prayer, surrounding the man who brought most of us to the ministry, directly or indirectly (several on the radio team have been at Focus for more than 20 years). The tears caught up with several of us, and it was a gracious gift from God to have that opportunity for closure to an era.
Looking back over the years…that’s what we’ve been doing this past week of programming. I’ve given some thought to a list of outstanding Focus on the Family broadcasts. Let me share a few of my favorite memories from the studio.
One is when we had the Barrett family sharing about the difficulties and challenges they experienced with a couple of their adopted children. Dr. Dobson was overcome with emotion as he described the awful pain and abuse those kids had seen prior to their adoptions. Then his eyes teared up, his voice cracked, and he simply had to stop the interview so he could compose himself.
That day confirmed what I already knew – that Dr. Dobson is a man with a big heart and great compassion, one who will stand up and fight for the neglected and abused. And that display of emotion made me appreciate and respect him all the more.
Then there was the day a former guest, Lindsey O’Conner, stopped by to give an update on her incredible story of giving birth to a daughter – while Lindsey was in a coma! Dr. Dobson spontaneously decided to record a program, and masterfully interviewed her, drawing out the way God worked in her family’s life. It was an outstanding conversation. He did that without any prep, and I was amazed at the ease with which he created that broadcast. It showed a wonderful instinct for stories and how to make compelling radio.
And one of the programs that spoke most powerfully to me was Dr. Dobson’s interview back in 2001 with Brandt Gustavson and Dr. Bill Bright. We called it, A Race To Heaven, and in that conversation he had me – and millions more – riveted to the radio for 30 minutes as he explored how those great men of God were approaching the end of their days here on earth. They shared so vividly about the God’s grace in their trials, their great joy in serving Christ, and their desire to see Him face to face. That inspiring exchange has – to this day – caused me to keep an eternal perspective on this life.
These are just a few of the standout programs I’ve enjoyed from the years that Dr. Dobson has hosted Focus on the Family.
What’s on your list of “must-listen” list of Focus broadcasts?
It is hard to believe that we’re saying farewell to Dr. Dobson! Today and tomorrow are his last appearances on the daily radio broadcast which he began in 1977. While he will be back with us in April to talk about Bringing Up Girls, these two programs mark his last time in the studio while still at the ministry.
So, today Jim Daly, General Pat Caruana (FOF Board Chairman) and I interviewed Dr. Dobson (he was the guest!). There were tender moments, and also light-hearted reflections, during this fond look back — and look ahead. Good radio, and I hope you’ll listen in!
We’re entering what will surely be an emotional week, as Dr. James Dobson enters his final days at Focus on the Family. I’ve had the privilege of working here at Focus since 1991, when I came to help research and produce the broadcast. There have been many wonderful memories as I’ve served in the broadcast area here.
Often I am asked, “What’s Dr. Dobson really like?” I usually respond that, he is who he seems to be. There is nothing pretentious, there’s a consistency in his on-air and off-air personalities, and that he is – for the listener – who he seems to be on the radio. He is genuine, passionate, principled, caring, thoughtful, fiery and tender. He is a straight-shooter, and also has great diplomacy and tact. He looks out fo the Family, r the underdog, he fights for what he believes is right, he does not quit, he does not shrink back. He faithfully serves his God, his family, his friends. He is warm and engaging, and has a great sense of humor. He teases those who are close to him, too.
This week, as we wrap up our time with this extraordinary man, we’re naturally nostalgic as we reflect on the past 33 years of ministry by Dr. Dobson and his wife, Shirley. We’re also celebrating all that God has accomplished during more than three decades – particularly through the Focus on the Family radio program.
One of the recent broadcasts that touched me deeply featured former Focus president Don Hodel and his precious wife, Barbara. This couple has a fantastic relationship, in spite of – or perhaps because of? – some traumatic seasons. They’ve endured much, and their conversation with Dr. Dobson illustrates the heart of this ministry.
Today we’re hearing from Dr. Dobson himself, as he talked to our staff a few years back about something he called, “The Four Passions” (of Focus). If you want to better understand this man, and the ministry legacy he leaves for us to continue on with, listen in.
In coming programs, we’ll hear from listeners about the impact of Dr. Dobson and this ministry on their lives. There are some wonderfully touching moments!
My wife and I married in our early 20s. We had both spent a few years in the work world, had lived on our own and had established our separate lives before deciding to go down life’s paths together. We weren’t particularly young, nor were we past our prime.
My oldest child is 21, and in no rush to get married. And if he follows current trends, he won’t tie the knot for another 7 years or so. Is there anything wrong with that? Well, not particularly. But here’s a rather provocative piece from someone who asks some hard questions about the penchant for delaying marriage.
Related, if you aren’t familiar with Boundless, the Focus online magazine what often tackles touch subjects like ‘why you should get married soon,” do check it out.
And let me know what you think – about that article, or about Boundless.
Some pretty interesting research from the Barna Group about the Focus on the Family ad, featuring Pam and Tim Tebow, which ran during the Super Bowl, including the following data points:
- Some projections put Super Bowl viewership at 106 million Americans…with 43% (saying) they had seen the Focus-Tebow commercial
- one out of every 11 Super Bowl viewers…were able to recall the spot without prompting
- In total…total penetration of 27% of Americans, excluding those who may have watched the commercial online after the game
Read the entire article and thoughtful analysis here.
I was glad to learn that Phil Cooke posted about the ad in his blog. I appreciated his insights and support for Focus in this endeavor.
And, in case you’d like to see some of the “hype” which helped make some 2.5 Billion (that’s with a B for Billion) consumer “impressions,” here’s a sampling of the media coverage generated by the spot, before and after the big game (not all of it entirely favorable):
What do you think? I don’t know what to make of it all. I’ve followed this story with some real curiosity. A Florida first grade student had an angry outburst so disruptive that the local sheriff’s office actually handcuffed her and drove her away in a squad car. The next day, this same six year-old student was once again out of control, and was subsequently removed from the school and admitted to a mental health facility for evaluation. Her parents maintain she has no mental illness and only suffers from a “temper problem.”
It seems obvious that there’s something going on behind the scenes that we don’t yet know. This isn’t typical behavior for a first grader. As a parent of a special needs child, I wonder if little Haley might have an undiagnosed condition which leads to these outbursts. Thinking back, before we really knew what we were dealing with in our son’s erratic behavior (autism spectrum disorder) we had to deal with some pretty intense and physical tantrums, so I’d be curious if this girl might have an undiagnosed special need.
It is reported that she had a history of behavioral issues, and that the school was trying to work with the parents, so it is likely that things have escalated over time. I don’t want to take sides here, but it does seem rather extreme to take a six year-old child off the school premises in handcuffs, and also to commit the child to a facility – both actions apparently taken without parental involvement. Still, what is a school to do with such physical expressions of rage? What would you do if you were in the classroom witnessing this kind of outburst?
I’m sympathetic to everyone involved, and hope that the parents and school officials will be able to work together in correctly identifying the real issues – and that eventually they can help this young girl with what is, at the least, an “temper problem.” Haley obviously needs some sort of intervention.
If you have an angry child that you’re trying to deal with, here’s an article offering some common-sense ways to approach the situation and find solutions. And here’s a conversation with a psychologist offering insights about how you as a parent can cope with an angry child; his book has much more information for parents.
With the approach of February 14 looming, I’m thinking back over the years to special Valentine’s Day celebrations with my wife. One year I surprised her with a hotel getaway, where I had prepared the room with some special food and a Scrabble board with “I love you” spelled out. I recall the time when Dena sent the kids to a friend’s house and surprised me with a quiet romantic meal. On several occasions we’ve had a nice dinner out, complete with extended (and uninterrupted) conversation. We’ve often exchanged a small gift or two. Unfortunately, I’ve been away on business – conventions that I couldn’t miss – several times over the years.
I wonder if you’ve got a particularly fond memory of a special Valentine’s Day activity – or a memory you just can’t shake about a plan gone awry? If so, please share with us via the comments section.
With Valentine’s Day only a few days away, I’m starting to map out what my wife and I can do to celebrate our relationship. Of course, we try to that EVERY day, but February 14 always brings a special opportunity (obligation?) to express our devotion and love to each other. We are both budget-conscious and also quite practical, and that’s good since we have young children still in the home and few good babysitting options this year. So we’ll spend some time away from the house, doing something relatively inexpensive – and without the kids.
How about you? What – if any plans you have?
What Are Your Valentine's Day Plans? Select up to three answers.
- I don't plan to do anything special. I have my reasons. Don't ask me again. (4%)
- Flowers and chocolate is always a hit! (17%)
- Celebrating at home with my love...and our kids. (21%)
- Celebrating at home with my love. (17%)
- A romantic getaway. (8%)
- Lunch or dinner with my sweetheart. (25%)
- Good question! I'll get back to you on that. (8%)
Now that the big game is over, and the Focus on the Family spot featuring Pam and Tim Tebow finally has been seen, we’d like to know your thoughts.
What did you think of the Focus on the Family Super Bowl ads?
- I'm not sure what they accomplished. (28%)
- They seemed alright. (28%)
- They were great, and really made the point! (44%)
Thanks to all who contributed to this special effort, including a small group of donors, a creative team of staff and contractors, the folks at CBS, the Tebow family, and everyone who joined us ion praying that the ad would be effective.
Maybe you have a comment to share? Feel free to do so, please!