Storyteller’s Gospel Show pays in riches beyond money

dworthington@heraldonline.comSeptember 15, 2013 

Margaret Caldwell of Rock Hill has been playing gospel music and telling religiousstories on WRHI for more than 10 years. She not only picks the music but raises the funds to buy the airtime for her show.

DON WORTHINGTON — dworthington@heraldonline.com

— Margaret W. Caldwell admits she is a reluctant business woman. Presented with an opportunity, it took her almost a year to act on it.

After more than a decade in business she has yet to make a dime of profit.

But Caldwell says her payback is greater than any currency, even gold or silver.

Each Sunday morning Caldwell is a disc jockey for WRHI of Rock Hill. She does more than spin records. She sometimes tells stories. She runs promotions and gives away concert tickets. She enjoys connecting with people who frequently call the station, offering feedback and encouragement.

Most of all, she cherishes the chance to share her God-given ministry as host of the “Storyteller’s Gospel Show,” 90 minutes of songs, stories and sponsors heard on WRHI’s AM and FM stations, as well as on the Internet.

Caldwell never envisioned that God would call her to play gospel music. She loved to sing, taught Sunday school and had inherited the gift of storytelling from her father. Surely God wanted her to use those talents, she said.

And she already had two full-time jobs, one as a receptionist at Domtar in Fort Mill and the second as a wife, mother and grandmother.

One Sunday, while preparing for church, Caldwell was listening to gospel music on the radio. Suddenly there was static. No matter where Caldwell turned the dial, all she got was static.

God spoke to Caldwell through the static.

“He put the words on my left cheek,” Caldwell said, her left hand softly stroking her cheek.

The words?

“I want you to play gospel music on the radio,” she said.

Caldwell knew nothing about playing gospel music. “But in my mind, it was just say ‘yes’ and all things will follow. I did that to get him off my back.”

A year later Caldwell said God again spoke to her, “Why are you not obedient to my word?”

“No one,” Caldwell said slowly, “wants to be dishonest to the Father. I surrendered to him, to his will.”

Caldwell went to WRHI where co-owner Allan Miller coached her. He told her how to approach gospel groups and their record producers. When the music started coming in, Miller told her she would have to raise her own money to pay for the airtime. Her program would be self sustaining.

In the age when technology rules radio, programs such as Caldwell’s are still self-sustaining, Miller said. WRHI was willing to give her the chance because for 69 years the station has dedicated time for local religious programming on Sunday morning, Miller said.

Caldwell succeeds, Miller said, because her show features contemporary gospel sounds, has a loyal following and because of her determination.

She has been on the air since 1995 except for a three-year break when the recession dried up sponsor money. Her show is a mix of songs, information about her sponsors, and sometimes she tells stories.

“I look for songs that lift you up,” she said. “Songs that touch your soul, your heart, bring tears of joy.”

For many years her theme song was “Shut De’ Do’” by Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers. It’s an upbeat song with a Jamaican feel, she said.

When she returned to the station after the recession, she selected Dorothy Norwood’s “Shake the Devil Off,” as her new theme song. It too has a distinct Jamaican rhythm.

How much has Caldwell made from her radio program?

She responded with laughter and then said seriously, “God didn’t tell me he wanted me to make a living off this.”

But reactions she gets, either from radio listeners or when she does in-person storytelling, are priceless.

She remembered one storytelling session when no matter how hard she tried to engage a little girl, “I couldn’t get her attention.

“I never saw her raise her head. She was writing on a pad.”

After telling her story she approached the girl and her parents, wanting to know why the girl, named Sandy, didn’t pay attention to her.

When she came face-to-face with Sandy the young girl handed her a picture of the story she had been telling. Sandy had been listening, intently to the storyteller and had put Caldwell’s words into a picture.

“That,” Caldwell said with a smile, “was my highest pay.”

Don Worthington •  803-329-4066 •  dworthington@heraldonline.com

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