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Congratulations are in order to a dear friend of mine – Dick Bott, a pioneer in Christian radio who has maintained his principles while building a network of 91 stations reaching 15 states with a combined audience of more than 50 million.

Bott Radio Network is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Americans who live in a market served by the Bott Radio Network are very fortunate – and should consider themselves blessed.

Why?

Because Christian radio is not always the alternative Christians want or need.

Bott Radio Network is that and more.

It all started like most successful enterprises do – small and without great expectations. Dick Bott started with one station in a basement in a Kansas City area mall, sandwiched between a barber shop and a child-care center.

Now the programming is heard worldwide by satellite, on the Net and, increasingly, through mobile devices – the transistor radios of the 21st century.

Commercial success was not what Bott sought. It was almost an afterthought. Dick Bott wanted to spread the gospel and bring rich programming and talk shows that were relevant and important for Christians, for maintaining and strengthening their worldview.

In 1957, Bott bought a station in Monterey, Calif., that featured pop music, and it was a success.

“But it just seemed less than fulfilling,” Bott told the Kansas City Star. “My wife and I were both Christians. And it seemed that there would be a way we could serve the needs and interests of the Christian community.”

Bott wanted to help create a Bible-literate Christian community.

So in 1962, Bott and his family moved to Kansas City and launched KCCV 1510 AM, with solid preaching, evangelism and current-events talk shows. Today the Bott Radio Network still serves Kansas City with two stations – 760 AM and 92.3 FM. And, in honor of the network’s 50th anniversary, the Botts are adding another signal this month – 101.5 FM.

“I had no idea I would end up with 91 stations,” said Bott, 79, who is chairman of the board. “Size was not the goal,” but to give his life to something he believes in.

Bott’s son Rich Bott, 57, another friend of mine, reviews each program that wants to join the network.

“They must be Bible-centered, of high ethics and professional quality,” he said.

What really drives them both are strong teachings on “the sanctity of human life and the traditional definition of marriage to be between a man and a woman.”

In an age of feel-good Christianity lite, Bott radio stands apart from the pack.

In 2008, Dick Bott was inducted into the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame, which is the highest honor of the organization with 1,400 member ministries. He also is one of the longest-serving members of its board. Rich Bott, meanwhile, got a masters degree from Harvard Business School and serves as president and chief executive officer as well as chairman of the National Religious Broadcasters.

The Botts remain good and faithful servants of the God they love.

For the future, Rich Bott said the network will continue to take steps to help fulfill Jesus’ command to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel.”

Dick Bott is a role model for entrepreneurs like me.

He has demonstrated throughout his life that one can be true to biblical Christian beliefs and commercially successful at the same time.

There’s no need to water down the message. In fact, it’s counterproductive.

God blesses those who remain true and faithful to His Word.

And Dick and Rich Bott are doing just that.

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