Interview: Bill Blount, NRB's New Chairman of the Board

bill blountThe following is an interview with new NRB Chairman of the Board Bill Blount. It was conducted by Peggy Campbell of Ambassador Advertising Agency and appeared in Ambassador's May 2014 newsletter.

But first, a word from Peggy:

It’s been a personal privilege to know Bill Blount for more than 35 years. Ray Ortlund always spoke of the White Hats—and Bill is genuinely one of those in the arena of Christian communications and far beyond. As owner of a network of stations in the Northeast, he is also thoroughly engaged in an international perspective, among his most recent treks being to Vietnam, Korea, and Russia. Bill and Debbie are parents of Josh (married to Katie) and Shayne—whom many of us have enjoyed time with at NRB. We look forward to Bill’s season of leadership at NRB, alongside of new President Jerry Johnson!

How did your interest in Christian radio begin?
My father was mentored in his faith by Dr. John DeBrine, who began a weekend Christian radio program on a Boston station. My father encouraged him to broadcast daily, which he did. So, my first exposure to Christian broadcasting was through Dr. John DeBrine’s launch into radio.

When you were a student at Bob Jones University, did you imagine one day you’d own a network of stations impacting New England?
(Rich Bott and I were classmates in the “Fundamentals of Broadcasting” class at BJU—interesting how similar our paths have become!) It wasn’t until after graduate work that I returned to RI and found a little AM daytime station for sale. I thought, “Well, I’m just starting out, so I’ll see if I can buy it. If I go ‘under,’ I’m just starting out anyway.” That was the first—I’ve expanded and bought and sold other stations along the way.

What’s been the greatest reward of operating these stations?
I think most of us in Christian broadcasting are rewarded by the “fruit” of our labor. Over the years, I heard countless stories of marriages saved, families restored, suicide prone people coming to Christ, and the list goes on.

Any significant challenges?
I was so financially “strapped” in those early years that I did everything 24/7—announcing, selling, logs, cleaning, bookkeeping, building maintenance, and even climbing our 200-foot broadcast tower. Some kids had climbed it on a Halloween night and tied a bed sheet with a satanic pentagram on it. There was nobody else to get it down, so I went to the top and removed it. Didn’t know towers could sway so much—I was hanging on for dear life...literally!!

Those who know you know you have a “global vision”—tell us a little about your international travel over the years.
I’ve had the privilege of traveling with many of our International NRB members over the years. I’ve been stopped by the police in China for carrying Bibles (three times). I made a trip into North Korea (on the September 11th) and had a near death experience in Nigeria. However, what blesses me most is to see how God uses the people in these countries to reach their culture with the Gospel.

And those who know you also know you enjoy a bit of “adventure” in your life ... what are some of those favorite activities?
It depends on the season...I love motorcycles, snowmobiles, flying planes, skiing, scuba diving, boating...most anything with a motor that can go fast...and I have the broken bones to prove it!

If you could invite three people (living or dead) to dinner—who would that be (other than Jesus!)?
George Washington—An amazing leader who was instrumental in founding this country against all odds. William Carey—Known as the father of modern missions, who went to India...a very different country and culture, to preach the Gospel. I love his explanation and application of Isaiah 54:2-3. He said, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God!” My father—He was a very successful businessman and evangelist. He was killed in a plane crash when I was young. I’d love to go back in time and “get to know him.”

Anyone you consider to be a spiritual or professional mentor in this journey?
Bob Ball, who at the time managed radio stations in Portland, OR...then later with Salem. In my early broadcasting days, when I didn’t know anyone... he became a friend to me at NRB (so amazing to me...he was so important and served on the NRB Executive Committee). We became very good friends. One of the last things he ever said to me in person was, “I hope someday you’ll take my place on the Executive Committee.” I’ve served many years now on the EC, but frequently remember his words, and am privileged, in a small part, to “fill his shoes!”

Do you have a life verse or favorite Scripture?
John 3:3...“except a man be born again, he can not see the Kingdom of God.” Everything we do in Christian media hangs on preaching the Gospel.

What have you most appreciated about the organization as a member of NRB?
The relationships! I know our media ministry is a business, but it’s also a ministry where I get to work with so many wonderful people around the country! My wife, Debbie, tells people...“He really doesn’t work, he just talks to his friends all day!” She’s right! Partnering with so many wonderful ministries to broadcast the Gospel is a privilege...and it’s doing it with the “family” I’ve come to love throughout the World!

As our new NRB Chairman, any specific goals for your tenure, working hand in hand with our new President Jerry Johnson?
The Chairman’s role is not to set the agenda for the organization, that is Jerry’s job. I’m there to support our President, but to also be a balance to him. Because of the many years I’ve been involved with NRB, I can share history and perspective that he would not be aware of. He and I are already talking frequently about the NRB future, goals, and objectives. I’m excited to partner with him, the Executive Committee, and the Board of Directors, in moving the organization forward.

Published: May 22, 2014