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Mennonite Media Radio Spots produced in Canada

   

April 24, 2002

Winnipeg, Man.— Harrisonburg, Virgina-based Mennonite Media has released English language public service announcements for radio with Canadian technical production and Canadian talent. The project continues a long-standing tradition of collaborative projects between Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Media, a department of Mennonite Mission Network.

The new series features 10 selected 30-second radio spots in English on family issues, titled "Parenting: On The Edge." Two radio spots feature God and Gabriel having an imaginary conversation about parenting. Another spot is set in a marsh; a family enjoys a day surrounded by nature while frogs gently ribbet in the background. A fourth listens in on a soccer mom and her daughter enroute to a semi-final game when the cell phone rings—Dad says he can't make it.

In another spot, two college-age women talk about their latest casual "hook up" and what it means. There are spots featuring a boy reflecting on his dad's extreme enthusiasm when the son plays baseball, a young man telling his father that he is gay, and a young boy soliciting a girl for sex. The spots encourage parents to be involved in their children's lives no matter what, so that trust and conversation can build.

"The last four series of radio spots dealt with racism, violence, peacemaking and forgiveness," said Melodie M. Davis, producer. "These are all issues that concern Mennonites, but in canvassing church leaders, there was concern to speak to cutting-edge family issues." She said that over the past 40 years, the Mennonite churches have become known in broadcasting circles for producing outstanding spots on family issues, and "we want to continue to support and encourage families. But there was a clear desire for these spots to speak to tough issues, and not just be warm fuzzy spots with 'done that' messages like 'love your children.'"

A spot that features a young man telling his parents he thinks he is gay encourages parents to respect the trust risked by their son in opening up—a challenge for parents to offer unconditional love. Another spot, of a young woman telling her parents that she and her husband are divorcing, tells parents to save their sermon and offer their daughter moral support.

Pastors, church councils, and individual members of Canadian congregations are encouraged to contact their local radio stations and encourage them to air the professionally produced spots. Radio programmers can download the spots from http://www.mennonitechurch.ca/resources/psa/index.htm. Visitors can also download the spots for preview. Requests seeking congregational volunteers to promote these spots to their local radio stations will arrive in churches in the June issue of Equipping. A how-to guide will accompany the request.

CRTC (Canadian Radio and Television Commission) rules in Canada require broadcasters to "reflect issues of concern to the communities served in return for the use of the public airwaves". "These are great opportunities for local churches to engage with their communities and cultures as we seek to follow the missional vision we have in our Healing and Hope vision statement," says Dan Dyck, director of communications for Mennonite Church Canada.

Sidebar:

The "Parenting: On The Edge" radio spots result from an extensive collaboration of writers, producers, engineers and actors spanning two countries. Canadian radio stations are able to download broadcast-quality spots from the Mennonite Church Canada web site at <http://www.mennonitechurch.ca>.

The spots were written by James G. T. Fairfield, of Singers Glen, Va., a long-time writer for Mennonite Media and author of numerous books; Lowell Brown of Washington, an artist who has written award-winning spots in recent Mennonite spot series; Betsy Hiebert, a writer from Winnipeg, Canada; Nate Barker, former staff member of Mennonite Media and producer of the award-winning video, "Beyond the News: Facing Death"; and Melodie Davis, with oversight by Burton Buller, director of Mennonite Media.

Mennonite Media consulted with Mennonite Church Canada and Family Life Network (formerly Mennonite Brethren Communications) in Winnipeg to conceive and script the spots. Reg Sawatzky, of Faith & Life Communications, the communications ministry of Mennonite Church Manitoba in Winnipeg, supplied engineering services and music beds for the spots with the assistance of Buller.

All actors whose voices are used on the spots are from the Winnipeg area:

  • Michelle Sawatzky, a former Olympian with the 1996 Canadian women's volleyball team in Atlanta. She is an announcer with CHSM (Radio Southern Manitoba).
  • Dug Joy, an announcer with CHUM in Winnipeg and owner of his own production firm, Dug Joy Voice Imaging.
  • Cam Clark, a news announcer with CHUM in Winnipeg.
  • Robb Nickel, a former broadcaster and participant with the Inter Mennonite Media Group in the 1980s, which produced radio and TV materials on behalf of four Anabaptist denominations.
  • Marilyn Houser Hamm, director of worship and spiritual formation for Mennonite Church Canada, and formerly director of peace and social concerns.
  • Kathy Giesbrecht, Resource Centre co-manager at Mennonite Church Canada and youth pastor/speaker.
  • Crystal Friesen, a student at Canadian Mennonite University and former announcer at a Christian radio station in Pennsylvania.
  • Children and youth who perform with a musical theater company headed by Janna Larsen in Winnipeg.

Nick Pharaoh, a drama coach at Canadian Mennonite University, also found students from the university to work on the project.