I'm kinda' shocked that Carmen hasn't beat me to the blog, but not really surprised given how exhausted we three hosts of The Morning Cruise must have been this weekend. It's bedtime Sunday, but I just have to throw down these few post-mortem thoughts on last week's Summer Cruise 3 before the week starts.
First, for those dear souls confused: the Summer Cruise 3 was not actually a ship-cruise. It's just the name we gave to the week we take our morning radio show on the road. For us, it's one of the most strenuous weeks of the year. We do it annually, in the middle of the summer -- a non-ratings period, which seems to make little sense from an effort-impact perspective. But we believe the relationships made last week will both help the show/station in the long run and somehow serve the cause of Christ. Ratings aside, it was a great week.
Second, the factors we consider in order to say "great week" include meeting so many enthusiastic listeners, giving a face to the station and our morning show, and building a deeper relationship with our guest artist.
The most rewarding part of the week was meeting so many listeners (we had an average of 350 listeners per stop, I estimate). I am constantly amazed at the level of ministry experienced by listeners of The JOY FM. The station is more than a service, it it is a servant -- it serves listeners like a friend indeed. We heard more than a couple stories about how someone "couldn't have made it through" a difficult life-experience without the encouragement and uplift The JOY FM provided. I am personally thankful the Lord has chosen to use the station for this purpose. I do not take it for granted. That unique ministry has been given freely by the Lord for his purposes, and he can just as freely take it away.
For many, a circle of involvement with the station was completed by meeting the personalities they count as friends. I call this "putting a face on The JOY FM." These are ordinary families who have been touched in some way, either by attending a concert that had a transforming effect, by discovering a faith community as their spiritual home, or by the more nebulous but equally emotional connection with word shared in a song or by a personality.
And the experience of meeting and spending a few personal moments with an artist definitely factored in to making the week great. Matthew West turned out to be a perfect fit for the 2008 Summer Cruise 3. We knew landing him as our special guest was a coup, but we couldn't possibly have known how much he would buy into the week. He did, and he quickly became part of the team.
Matthew was not only a great entertainer of each cafe crowd, he was also an able minister of gospel encouragement wherever we went. He proved himself a trooper, conforming to Carmen's rigorous daily schedule without a complaint: rising early to hide the pink flamingo, performing twice a day, resting little and traveling lots. Matthew rode with us, ate with us, laughed with us and gave himself to listeners, one at a time, all week long. His reward? He got to go do another concert Friday night in Orlando. Hopefully he has gotten some rest by now.
So, another edition of the Summer Cruise pulls into port. Much more will be said, analyzed, planned, improved and celebrated as we are able to process our thoughts, but this quick summary will be complete with a few simple thank-yous.
I am thankful for Dave and Carmen, the best partners anyone could labor with in this business. Dave is the uberchef of much of what we do, providing not only talent but staging and production skills that make our product excellent. Last week, he was the equipment manager, on-site producer, engineer, etc. in addition to being the "Cruse" after which the show is named. Carmen is not only the most prominent personality on the station, she is also the road manager, quality-control expert, hostess, artist-relations specialist, chauffeur and public relations guru. She is a woman driven to excellence for God's glory and pleasure.
In support of the week were EVERYONE at The JOY FM. From our General Manager to the office staff, to a week-long volunteer named David and a new Nashville friend, Tara, it took all hands to make this week happen. Special mention goes to G.T., our "fourth partner" on The Morning Cruise, Mary Douglas, our promotions director and Kris Byerly, our morning show producer. Further, the folks at EMI records in Nashville were personally invested in the week, not only helping us secure Matthew West and arranging details, but also sending Brian Thiele down to spend part of the week with us -- kudos to Grant, Josh, Brian and the rest of the EMI team.
And special thanks to Matthew West, his lovely wife Emily and little Lulu for their generous involvement with us. We appreciate how much Matthew was missed, and conversely how he missed his family. We sat with him on the bus during bedtime prayers (cellphone) and short domestic updates. We know what it's like to be away from your family for the week. And that brings me to my final thank-you: to Kimberly and my five little Martins for adjusting to dad being gone all week (not that there isn't an equal amount of relief with me out of the house!). It was good to spend the weekend at home, following Adam to his all-star baseball games, making my famous tuna salad for Kimberly and having to deal with the realities of teenagers down to the five year old. Glad to have gone -- glad to be home.
May God be glorified through what this last week represents: a community sharing together as God has individually gifted and called them, serving one another in love.