GMR: The Beginning

I’ve always loved music. I think it’s safe to say I have always loved Christian music, too. In fact, I can recall clapping hands and singing along to Ferlin Husky, and “Somebody Touched Me” as my father played it on the Hi-Fi ( That’s what they were really called, back then, because music wasn’t even “stereo” yet) in our living room.

Many many things changed over the years; Music changed, too, and a large portion of it was for the better. I moved on from my father’s “Gospel” records to Christian Rock Operas (Remember “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “GodSpell”?) and then to Contemporary Christian Music, trying to bring the word of God to the ears of the masses, and wandering dangerously close to the edge of slipping into “worldly” behavior in order to keep up those presentations.

In College, I was involved in the College radio program where we rented airtime on a local public station in San Jose, Ca. I saw a good many names come through there that are now gone with the times, but I knew music would continue to be an important influence in the lives of God’s people, just as David played and sang and danced to the Lord so long ago.

In the mid 1980′s I was working in a small Christian station near Tehachapi, CA, opening in the mornings with a short music set and then starting the preaching and teaching programs for the day. Later in the afternoon I would join the Program Director Jim DeVore for his show, and on weekends I hosted a show where the tempo stepped up a bit, called “Soundwave”. It was, basically, Christian Rock, still in its infancy in many respects.

The station also ran a small sunday night show called “Gospel Music Roundup” (sound familiar?) produced by Lois Gibbons and Finley Duke. Their DJ was leaving, and I was asked to step in and keep it going while they found a new one. It was unique for me, in that I had this ill-concieved notion in my head that somehow this “Gospel Music”, with it’s tinny-sounding poorly-recorded tapes and Fire-breathing Preachers was a dying breed.

My first night with that show forever changed my life. I was in the studio getting set for the evening and in walked this little gal carrying a box of albums about as big as she was. She introduced herself as Lois Gibbons, the Producer of the show. She pulled out a copy of a magazine monthly she put out, called “Gospel Music Roundup”. I could tell this woman knew about a gazillion people… and talked about all of them! As “Startin’ time” (as Lois called it) came on, through the door came two more folks, Lloyd and Thelma, our phone bank hosts. The show got under way with Lois popping in with album after album, each with its own little post-it note attached telling me who what song was going to and why. Later, some guests arrived, and Lois would push one of them into the studio to be interviewed, and to minister to people out there. They were certainly a lively group, and had a passion for what they do. Seeing the Love in those people pushed me right into the heart of it in a hurry, and I have held a love for it ever since. As the weeks and months carried on, I met more of what was then known as “West Coast”Gospel singers than I’d heard of before or since, and I owe much of that to that woman totin’ in the box every sunday night. I attended a birthday party for JD Sumner, hosted by Wendy Bagwell, and that event was put together by none other than Lois. She had me write an article for her paper, once in a while, but that she was passionate about this music was always what made our friendship remarkable.

Lois Gibbons was a passionate supporter and producer of gospel music in Southern California during the ’70′s and ’80′s. In 1985 she published the “Gospel Music Roundup” newsletter, promoted the “High Desert Gospel Sing” in Victorville, and produced a gospel music radio program on KAVC in Rosamond, CA for four hours live on Sunday nights. In the’90′s Lois moved back to her home state of Louisiana and kept the radio program going on KDVM/KDPC. Lois passed away in Alexandria, LA on July 12, 2007. -The Cross Road Quartet Newsletter, Aug., 2007

I hadn’t seen Lois in years. This podcast was already up and running, and I had spoken to her not 3 months before after tracking down her location through Finley Duke. Suddenly, this podcast had an even deeper meaning to me than before. Its ministry has touched lives, and I praise God that he still works through this medium to His people. So listen to the music, worship Him in all you do, and whenever God lays it on your heart to do something, DO IT.

For the Honor of the King

Tom Whiteman

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