Wayne Weekly “Revisiting the Overnights…Christmas Memories”
Written by Wayne Taylor on December 17, 2020
When I began working at the Mars Hill Network almost thirty-nine years ago, I was hired as “Night Manager”. I think former General Manager Gordon Bell (Mr. Bell hired me), gave the overnight announcer that title to give a sense of responsibility, and some added encouragement, during those solo night hours.
Working alone in the building did have its challenges. During those early days, we had no computers, no automation. Everything done needed an amount of physical and mental effort. Cueing-up program tapes, cueing records, stacking up tape carts containing station IDs and spots, pulling news off of the now defunct AP or UPI teletype machines, doing hourly transmitter readings, answering the phone, and tending to announcing, were all part of the overnight responsibilities and could keep one quite busy.
Other tasks were part of the 10 pm to 6 am shift as well. Production work, planning the 2-4 am live in studio program, packaging previously aired reel to reel program tapes for mailing back to various ministries, burning trash (yes, we were allowed to do that in those days). Other jobs included keeping an eye on severe winter weather so in the event of ice forming on the transmit antennas, turning on the tower deicers had to be done, and in the case of a power outage…manually starting the generator and putting it “on line” to power the station was a crucial task.
Driving in to work during the winter nights could be quite a challenge. No working from a remote studio at home. Most all announcing was live. If you had an air shift, you needed to be at the studio and only emergency situations or illness would excuse the night guy from tending to his shift. The drive home during a winter storm, well sometimes it would be best to hang around the studio until the plows were running full steam before venturing home.
But the overnight ministry was very special. There was a real sense of ministry, a real sense of purpose. With the overnight hours came phone calls from lonely people, from listeners suffering an illness, from the brokenhearted, and from some who “just can’t sleep at night”. I also received calls from those who worked overnight; law enforcement officials, janitorial employees, health care workers, and the like. So often the Scriptures were shared, sometimes tears shed, and almost always the call would end in prayer.
Christmastime on the overnight ministry was, and forgive the use of the word, “magical”. There was something wonderfully special about being up all night ministering to listeners and sharing the Word of God and playing Christmas music, and reading Christmas devotionals. I would often open the front door and walk onto the porch and gaze out at the snow covered hills and trees and look to the heavens with wonder. Christmastime was just uniquely special in those days.
I have often thought that when I retire my job as General Manager here at Mars Hill, I would ask our board of directors if I could move into the “Night Manager” position. Strangely enough, I long for the solitude of being in the studio, being alone in the building, and opening up the microphone and welcoming listeners once again to the live, overnight ministry of the Mars Hill Network.