Harrumph. That’s how I felt last week. My long-running late night radio show on Radio Upson Downs, “Hymns on my Organ” has been cancelled. Apparently it was not mainstream enough for a community radio station that only has a maximum audience of 4000 listeners and apparently they could not sell any advertising time during it even though it was only on once a month on a Sunday evening.
The format of the show was very simple: people would write in and request a favourite hymn and then I would play it on my electric organ live on the radio. The postbag for the show never actually bulged, but there were usually enough hymns requested for me to fill half an hour and if there weren’t enough then I would augment the list with some of my own favourites – some of which don’t get sung at all at our church now.
In addition to the requests for hymns I did sometimes get other requests of an impolite nature: it took me a while to realise that there wasn’t a hymn called, “For heaven’s sake, stop!” Other letters questioned my ability to play anything beyond ‘chopsticks’ and some seem to have confused me with some sort of medical show.
I took this up with our Minister, Revd Philip Inneck-Tucker, in the hope that he might organise a petition of support to hand in to Radio Upson Downs to get my show reinstated. I must admit that I half-expected him to smirk and pretend to have a coughing fit again (yes, I have worked out what he was doing – the cheek of it!!) but he surprised me by saying that he was sorry that my radio career had come to an end as he used to enjoy listening to me at the end of a busy Sunday.
I didn’t expect that and waited for him to crack a joke. But he didn’t.
He listened to me as I explained how much time I spend preparing for each show. He nodded sympathetically as I bemoaned the radio station’s lack of community spirit. He said how good it was that I was using my hobby to try to bless other people. He even made a few positive suggestions about what I could do in my last show (they have given me one last show to say goodbye to my listeners).
When I told him that I was surprised that he was taking the situation so seriously he floored me with his comment: “I may not agree with you on everything but I know that you are a man who has sincerely held beliefs and seek to live by your convictions. I can see that you are upset about this and as your Pastor I want to listen to you, support you and pray for you.”
Well, I would have skipped home if it wasn’t for my bad hip. Who’d have thought it? When I got home started to prepare for my last show. I looked at my card index of all of the hymns that have been requested (including the frequency of requests, by whom they were requested and hymn book reference number) and then at all of the letters I have received over the years. It was then that I noticed that some of the handwriting looked familiar. Then I realised whose it was – our Minister had written some of the requests!
I was flabbergasted. I hadn’t expected that he would be so supportive. Perhaps I misjudged him. My ‘harrumph’ has turned to a ‘hallelujah’ and I am going to dedicate my last hymn to him: ‘Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love’.
Mr QR Grenville-Stubbs