Walking in Unexpected Shoes - An Essay by Glenn Hascall

How does anyone get to where they find themselves in life? Is it coincidence or is it something more? That's been on my mind recently so...

How does anyone get to where they find themselves in life? Is it coincidence or is it something more? That's been on my mind recently so I slipped behind an active microprocessor and let my fingers revisit my stepping stone story.

Early Steps

It was the spring of 1990. I unwittingly stepped into a role my shoes were not prepared for. I was hired to be the program director for a Christian radio station in Nebraska. One of the first things I noticed was a generally subpar set of programs for their Saturday morning line up for kids.

Though a long-time Christian, my background was in secular radio so I came into my new role with a clinical approach. I did not see the Saturday morning lineup as a “sacred cow”. It was simply a grouping of available programs with little thought as to placement, quality, or impact. My sense was that if this was the extent of priority for this programming block then it would be best to eliminate it altogether. Then? My new boss asked me what seemed like an innocent question, “How would you make it something worthwhile?”

Glenn Hascall in his element; a radio studio
Photo Credit: Whitney Hodgin/Dodge City Globe
Challenge accepted. Adventures in Odyssey was relatively new and the show challenged the quality level of programs that did not subscribe to their improved delivery. I used this new program as the starting point of my improvement plan. I suggested the elimination of some programs and the addition of one other. I further suggested a live and local, hour-long program where kids could request songs and eventually become junior DJs by having a listener selected to come into the studio and co-host a show for the week.

I passed the ideas along thinking the change would be too much and they would decide to shutter the existing program and move toward our standard music format. They didn’t. I was asked to show them what I meant. At the time, I was so involved in development that it never occurred to me that this would become something that would change my future in many ways.

A new lineup was initiated less than two months later. I was still thinking it would not be my role to fulfill on an ongoing basis. Listener response was immediate and overwhelming. Being a guy who had used his voice for all kinds of characters in radio I used some in the new radio show and then I contacted Chuck Bolte at Focus on the Family and he was gracious enough to supply some custom audio that I was able to use in the show to cross promote their program. The same was true to an even greater extent with the team at Jungle Jam and Friends when their program arrived at radio.

The show I created was eventually syndicated and sent to a handful of radio stations throughout the US. I continued to host and develop the show for 16 years before moving to a new opportunity in 2006. That show continues to air today with new hosts.

The Path Becomes Clearer

In the mid 90s, I was invited to be a part of a panel at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention to talk about the value of children’s programming in radio. This was before so many great productions were conceived (i.e. Paws & Tales, The Pond, Down Gilead Lane, Jonathan Park, etc). While circumstances prevented my participation, it is a request I still cherish.

I would go on to host another children’s radio program and that led to the development of my own original audio dramas. It also led me to work with multiple existing audio drama producers to provide voices. It also led to the writing of multiple books for young men and children.

It was a welcome surprise when I began to connect with new generations of audio dramas and was asked to take on characters for Brinkman Adventures, Pirateers, Time Chroniclers, Nick Guy, Private Eye, Greenhorn Tales, and Discovery Mountain; to name a few.

A Fulfilling Journey 

Now to the real point of this piece - my trek to this place was not overnight and I really had no idea at the beginning that it would lead here. You may be more intentional about what you want to accomplish and are chasing it down with the skill of a hunter but never fail to give God veto power over your plans. He may have something very different and amazingly perfect for you.

In retrospect, if I had not taken the challenge of a former boss to help identify a better way to convey children’s programming, I wonder how different my life would have been. Up until the time of this question I had never given children’s programming much thought.

Art for episode 1 of Dudley Junction
One other outcome of this unusual journey was a limited release series called, “Dudley Junction”. This happened because I encountered a group of three students who wanted to see what it took to put an audio drama series together. I enlisted their help with script ideas and they would be coached in voice acting. This led to two more young students who would participate. The artwork for the series was taken care of by young talent and I remain overwhelmed by what this group was able to accomplish. The older three of these students have since graduated from college, but I see traces of the work they did with me in the career choices they’ve made.

Whether it has been writing, producing, mixing, coaching, voicing, or mentoring I can say that this journey has been good for me. That’s not to say that it’s over, just a note that life in the rearview mirror has reminded me of the impressive ride so far. I look forward to what God sends next. I understand that if God originates the plan then I can be certain of one thing - it will be good.

Glenn Hascall was involved in Children's broadcasting for 25 years and now focuses much of his attention on creating or voicing audio dramas for children or writing books for them. That's likely because he has two children and four grandchildren of his own. His greatest passion is following God and using words to help introduce young minds to a good God. Hear samples of Glenn's work or contact him here.


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