A couple of days ago, I posted this picture of a snow-capped telephone line in the Adirondacks.
I called the picture “Powerline,” for no other reason than it was descriptive of the scene.
I should note that after I named the picture, I had a tiny flashback. To a man named Jon Rivers, and hearing him every Sunday on radio station WTRY.
See, Jon Rivers was the radio host of a syndicated Top 40 show called Powerline. It was an eclectic radio show, to say the least – on the surface, it was a simple radio program with the host introducing Top 40 hits and classic oldies. But during the show, the host would take a moment and offer a homily, an observation or a sermon – almost as if you stumbled into a church and were welcomed in as an expected guest.
I enjoyed listening to Powerline, even if it meant staying up to 11:30 p.m. on a Sunday night just to hear the show. Of course, you have to remember that this was the mid-to-late 1970’s, and I was desperate for any happiness or comfort or solace in my turbulent teenage years.
Powerline was hosted by Brother Jon Rivers, who combined his soothing radio voice with homilies about God and Jesus and the choices we all make in our lives. He took questions from listeners and offered solutions whenever possible. And for 30 minutes every Sunday morning or evening (depending on when I could catch the show or whenever WTRY played it), Powerline comforted my soul.
Which is why I was surprised to learn that Powerline is still on the air, and is still hosted by Brother Jon Rivers. In fact, here’s an .mp3 clip of Brother Jon Rivers, in an aircheck demo from a recent Powerline episode.
Wow. This really takes me back.
Yeah, it takes me back to my teen years, when I felt helpless and hopeless and useless (I remember those words specifically and in that order, my stepfather used them a lot when describing me). It was radio shows like Powerline and American Top 40 and CBS Radio Mystery Theater that gave me an escape. They allowed me to close my eyes and imagine myself in worlds of sonic descriptives. I could count down the hits, I could enjoy the mysteries of the macabre, and – thanks to Brother Jon Rivers – I could understand that there was more in this world, more in the love of God, than my little mind could initially appreciate.
And another thing. Inspirational programs like Powerline helped me realize that no matter how miserable and painful my life could be at that very moment, there is hope. There is faith. There is a chance to find the true meaning of my life. To get away from all the pain and hurt and abuse, and try to find a new path. So that on the day when my heart beats its final rhythm, I could say, with unwavering conviction, that I did everything I could to make things just a little better.
So thank you, Brother Jon Rivers, and thank you to the Tom Kent Radio Network for not only appreciating Powerline, but bringing it back to radio stations.