Five minutes to air is always hectic at Jay Hadley Ministries. Cecilia McIntyre, producer of the radio
show, "Talk Now! with Jay Hadley," was settling down into her chair in the room adjacent to the studio. Cecilia's engineer and right-hand-woman, Annie, was already in position, manipulating the dials and
switches on the control board. Cecilia hooked up the telephone headset and double-checked her computer. While her boss was on the air, she would screen the calls and pull any tapes from the library of past
shows needed today. All hooked in now, Cecilia turned and smiled at Annie, who gave her a thumbs-up and continued her pre-show checklist.
Two minutes to air. The star of the show hurries from
his office at one end of the suite to the studio at the other, all but ignoring the beautiful view of Lake Pontchartrain his suburban New Orleans location offered. The rent had to be paid, and that didn't happen
if Hadley didn't get on the radio and ask for it. With a quick wave for the women preparing in the control room, Hadley took his place in the studio behind the microphone. Even though Hadley had a strong,
radio-preacher's voice, he did not cut an imposing figure in person. At 5'7" and 160 pounds, he might still be able to run five miles a day at the age of 47, but he'd never be mistaken for the corporate CEO he
was. This bothered Hadley during the few times he spent in quiet reflection, but not now. He was in his domain, in control, and ready for the world.
One minute to air. Hadley reviewed the
various bullet points Cecilia left on his desk. These outlines covered the topics he should use when doing the many off-the-cuff requests for donations he would make during the two-hour show. Chuckling at
one particular line of attack listed, he looked up and waved at his producer and chief-of-staff, who beamed.
3:00pm CST. The satellite links are all on-line and the red "On Air" light above the door
in Hadley's studio goes on. As the theme music and voice-over finish, the star begins his opening monologue.
"Good afternoon and welcome to 'Talk Now!' I'm Jay Hadley, and I'll be here for the
next two hours to say what I have to say and listen to what you have to say. My topic for today is 'Sharpshooting Sub-teens.' What's going on in our schools? We've got kids as young as eleven years old
bringing guns to class and shooting down other students. The breakdown of the moral fibre of this nation is happening at an accelerated rate in these last days. I've got a lot to say about this, as I'm sure
you do as well…"
As Hadley dug into the topic du jour, things got more active in the control room. Annie busied herself with level adjustments and verifying the links to the outside world.
Cecilia's phone lines were already ringing off the hook, with both supporters and detractors alike trying to get through to Hadley. She received regular activity updates from the telemarketing center down the
hall, letting her know phone activity and the dollar amount of pledges to the ministry. She then passed this information to her boss' computer in the studio when she felt it appropriate. Grabbing a quick sip
of her Diet Pepsi, she flipped the switch for an outside line.
"Talk Now! with Jay Hadley"
"Yeah, I want to talk to the holy man!" The voice was male, late teens, and trying to growl like
his favorite heavy-metal lead singer.
Cecilia sighed. She knew this one well. "Hi, Lonny. I thought I told you I wasn't going to let you on more than once every couple of weeks.
You're calling back waayyy too early."
"Lonny is no longer. Only Destructor exists."
"Oh, sorry, that's right. I forgot that you only use your stage name these days. Still,
"Destructor," I'm not ready for you today."
"I want to talk to the holy man today! Kids who kill is perfect for Deeee-struc-tttttor!!!" The young man's attempts to sound demonic were truly
"OK, Lonny, stay on the line and I'll see what I can do." She hit the hold button on the console and looked up into the studio. The kid was entertaining and usually generated
good donor response. A quick review of her "regular callers" file indicated that Lonny/Destructor not only generated response, but the response was of the immediate impact kind—credit card donations. Smiling
inwardly, she turned up Hadley in her earphones to see where to work in the caller.
"…nothing but dope-smoking death-dealing Democrats poisoning the minds of our youth and leading us to situations like we
saw on CNN yesterday. We're taking back the country, brothers and sisters, but it's not happening fast enough! I need your help, friends, to keep this ministry on the air, fighting the fight for our
youth!" Jay was on a roll today, Cecilia thought. She watched as he flipped the switch to run the theme music for the bottom half of the first hour, then keyed her intercom.
"Boss, do you want Lonny today?"
Hadley looked up from his notes. "Wasn't he just on day before yesterday?"
Cecilia frowned a bit through the glass. "Yeah, but he's got the right
shtick for this topic, and he's hot to trot on line six.
"Hold him for just about the end of the show. If he's still there around 4:45, we'll do it. That'll be a great follow-through to the
daily offer summary. If he hangs up, he loses his chance at fame." He smiled at her, truly believing that his show was a path to better things, even for the wannabe devil-worshippers who harassed him.
"OK, then, 4:45 it is." She killed the intercom and went back to the phone. "Lonny, sit tight for a while and we'll work you in."
"Very well. Destructor will consent to wait
for the holy man…"
"Sure thing." She put him back on hold, gave Hadley a thumbs-up and went to the phones again. The callers were the usual mix of true believers, kids who objected to Hadley's
opposition to heavy-metal music, non-Christians who felt the ministry preached intolerance, and just plain crazies. The calls usually worked themselves out—put on an "anti" call, fire up the phone lines, then a
few true believer calls to get Hadley psyched up for the next crazy on the line.
The cycle ran true through the first hour, and into the second. There was no guest today, either in-studio or on the
phone. Hadley continued on-message, and the phones were lighting up.
4:30 PM CST: Hadley clicks the intercom switch.
"Is Lonny still on hold?"
"Yup, he's on line 4."
"OK, let's shift the live solicitation up, then I'll take him right after that."
"OK, boss." Cecilia popped the phone button, double-checked on Lonny, then went back to the other phone
lines. She needed to get some solid true believers on right after Lonny to keep the faithful pulling out their wallets. After she got a third on hold, she took a deep breath and listened as Hadley wound up
the donation pitch.
"Brothers and Sisters, I must have your help for this ministry to survive. I need you to give that $20 a month, or better yet, be that $1000 soldier for Christ we need to
underwrite today's broadcast. If that's just something you can't do, then let's have two of you giving $500. I need to know you're backing me. These kids need to know your there. We have to get
the message of the Lord out before we have more children killing children!
"OK, speaking of out of control teenagers, we've got Destructor on the phone. Hello, Destructor, are you still there?"
"Hooollllyyyy Maaannnn" Lonny was pretty good at the evil voice bit. Hadley wasn't all that impressed, though.
"I'm not a 'holy man,' just a man doing Jesus' work on the radio."
"Hoolllyyy Mannnn, you do not know us. We will defeat your so-called 'God' and crush your religion!"
"Not a chance, Destructor. The only thing that's going to 'destruct' is your
belief that you will succeed. I have the authority of the blood of Jesus Christ, and that gives me and all who believe in Him the power to bind you and yours and condemn your masters to the eternal pit!"
Hadley's finger was poised right next to the 'panic button,' the switch that shuts off the signal in case a caller gets obscene. Lonny's file indicated that he never used improper radio language, but you never
know with kids.
"Hoooollllyyyy Maaaaannnnn, your God is worthless. Your life is worthless. You will be crushed like the sheep that you are. My master will be victorious. My master
will come for you and destroy all you love and hold precious. My master will put bullets in the brains of your followers. My master…"
Hadley cut off the litany: "Destructor, I bind your
threats and wash them away with the Blood of Jesus Christ. You and your master have no power here. The Risen Lord is forever!"
Almost as if it was rehearsed, Destructor began coughing when Hadley cut him
off and began his counter-claims. Lonny regained his composure and snarled into the phone. "I would like to ask a question of the Holy Man"
The question came, not in the
"Destructor" voice, but Lonny's post-adolescent whine. "Why is it that you like to take vacations with married women who work for you???"
The public didn't hear anything past the word "vacations,"
however, because Hadley immediately hit his "panic button." With his face turning red, he glared through the glass at Cecilia, who was completely stunned. Lonny's profile had no record of being a challenger
to the ministry. He never would have made it on the air in that case. No, something went terribly wrong just now. She was set up, and Hadley was furious. Ministry statistics showed that
contributions regularly drop 20%-30% for half an hour after someone questions the Rev. Hadley's personal lifestyle or the way he handles ministry money. Sure, some of the callers get through, but that's why
Cecilia developed the caller profile database. The more "safe" calls she let flow through, the less the chances of something uncontrolled happening. Something like Lonny's question, which generated ten
seconds of dead air.
Hadley recovered quickly, and began damage control. "Destructor, you are history. You just can't use language like that on the radio. This is a family program with a
family audience, and we just can't have that here." He glanced over at the computer monitor and hit a button.
"Joanne is on the line from Dallas. Go ahead, Joanne!"
A positive call
from a true believer would pick things up, but Cecilia still saw the smoldering anger in Hadley's eyes. It was going to be a tough twenty minutes, but she had to keep the callers moving. She could figure out
what went wrong later…