JONI AND FRIENDS RADIO CELEBRATES 35TH ANNIVERSARY THIS MONTH
AGOURA HILLS, Calif., May 9, 2017 – As Joni Eareckson Tada marks her 50th year using a wheelchair this summer following her diving accident in 1967, she also celebrates this month the 35th anniversary of her popular “Joni and Friends” radio program, providing hope and encouragement through the airwaves. Begun at the urging of top executives from Ambassador Advertising Agency, Tada expected she would only have a few months’ worth of programs to record. She has since voiced 9,200 programs, which now reach more than 1,500 stations throughout the U.S. and 36 nations around the world, and are translated into both Spanish and Mandarin.
“It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing this more than three and one-half decades – I had no idea where this journey would lead,” Tada said. “I am so thankful for the team at Ambassador Advertising Agency, who recognized that people need to hear a voice of real encouragement from someone who has not only experienced challenges such as discouragement, depression, pain and loss, but someone who has searched the Bible for answers and has applied them.”
The program went on the air for the first time on May 3, 1982, just two years after the founding of Joni and Friends International Disability Center, and five years after Tada released her autobiography, “Joni: The Unforgettable Story of a Young Woman’s Struggle Against Quadriplegia & Depression.” In addition to her daily four-minute radio program, Tada hosts a one-minute inspirational radio program, “Diamonds in the Dust,” and a 30-minute television series called “Joni and Friends,” which takes an honest look at people’s toughest questions about the goodness of God in a world shattered by pain and suffering.
“I’ve always considered our radio programs as an avenue God uses to speak strength, courage and comfort into the hearts of His children,” Tada said. “I see ‘Joni and Friends’ as a vehicle to help listeners learn how to live – and live well – in a world of pain and suffering.”
Through radio, Joni and Friends is able to reach places where people with disabilities are often isolated, neglected and shut away in back bedrooms. But “Joni and Friends” radio shines a light of hope in those dark places.
The program also keeps people informed on issues that really matter in cooperation with the organization’s Christian Institute on Disability, which provides a biblical worldview and life-giving truth on topics pertaining to life, dignity, justice and equality that affect people with disabilities. Looking back at where “Joni and Friends” radio started, Tada sees that the tone of the program has changed, as surviving cancer and experiencing chronic pain have increased her heart for those who are hurting and has deepened her perspective.
“Why have I done this for 35 years?” Tada reflects. “The stories from listeners who have found comfort, the reports of people lifted from despair and the knowledge that there are so many more people who need the hope found only in Jesus.”
For more than 38 years, Joni and Friends has worked to accelerate ministry to the disability community around the world, offering a wide array of life-affirming ministries, including the Christian Institute on Disability; Wheels for the World; international radio and television programs filled with inspirational stories; and Family Retreats, where families affected by disability learn they are not alone. In 2002, Tada received the National Religious Broadcasters’ William Ward Ayer Award for Distinguished Service. In 2012, she was inducted into the religious broadcasting Hall of Fame. For more information, please visit http://www.joniandfriends.org/.
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