In late 1981, top executives from Ambassador Advertising Agency went to the home of Joni Eareckson Tada to meet with the burgeoning advocate for people with disabilities.
Tada, who had been in bed for several weeks trying to heal from a pressure sore, had only two years earlier founded her ministry, Joni and Friends, and five years earlier published her international best-selling autobiography, Joni: The Unforgettable Story of a Young Woman's Struggle Against Quadriplegia & Depression, which was made into a 1979 feature film of the same name. Tada’s second book, A Step Further, was released in 1978.
“They had been reading my books, and listening to my messages, and they wanted me to consider going on the radio,” Tada recalled in a recent blog post.
One of the executives, Ambassador Founder Al Sanders, recalled saying to Tada, “We believe that you have much to tell people all across America – people, not only with disabilities, but people with all kinds of problems.”
“They explained,” Tada added, “how many people listen to Christian radio – although listeners might not be struggling with quadriplegia, they are still fighting discouragement, depression, pain and loss … just like me.”
“People need to hear a voice of real encouragement from someone who has experienced these challenges, someone who has searched the Bible for answers and has applied them,” Tada recalled being told.
On May 3, 1982, that vision became a reality as Tada’s radio program went on air for the first time. And though Tada originally thought she would have no more than three months’ worth of things to say, this coming month she will have recorded more than 9,200 radio programs.
Moreover, the program is heard today on more than 1,500 stations across the U.S. and in 36 nations throughout the world.
“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,” explained Tada.
“One of my greatest joys is to keep passing on the heart-pumping, faith-strengthening insights I've gleaned in the five decades I’ve lived as a quadriplegic,” she added. “It’s the purpose behind the Joni and Friends daily radio program. I love to pass on blessings!”
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 highlights the stories of people enduring difficult trials while continuing to trust in God.
“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 noted.
In 2002, Tada received NRB’s William Ward Ayer Award for Distinguished Service. In 2012, NRB inducted Tada into the religious broadcasting Hall of Fame.
This July will mark 50 years since Tada became a quadriplegic after a diving accident when she was 17.
By NRB Staff
PHOTO ABOVE: Al Sanders (left), Founder of Ambassador Advertising Agency, and Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder of Joni and Friends.
Published: April 20, 2017