Back in the late 80s I was volunteering at WCVO 104.9 fm in New Albany, Ohio. Rich Fout was the undisputed king of all local Christian media at that point and the crown jewel of his empire was his Friday night Christian Rock show called Final Flight.
After a year of so of listening in and a few months of going out to the station and volunteering to answer phones and pray with people, I found myself being invited into the main studio. It was a combination of being star struck and intimidated at the same time standing in the same control room that RIch and his team operated from every weekend. It was like a mini throne room experience that my then teen-aged self will never forget.
When RIch asked me if I wanted to sit behind the control board, I nearly froze with a combination of awe and wild wonder. Of course I said yes and I slowly slid into that big air chair for what would be the first of thousands of times.
I remember thinking to myself that Rich (who would have been in his late 30s at that point) was old. His long, unkempt hair, beard and shirt untucked made him look much older than he was, plus he had that unmistakable deep radio voice that left you with the impression that he had to be an elder statesman of some sort.
I grew quickly anxious to talk on the air but Rich had a special wisdom beyond his years and he saw how elevating me too quickly would be something that would actually harm me instead of helping me so he kept my voice off the air while still letting me play music regularly on Final Flight. After many months the night finally came when I was allowed to take a coupel of small vocal breaks and talk about being nervous, I was a mess. Voice cracking, literally sweating but somehow I made it through.
As time went on Rich would go from being a volunteer himself to actually running the entire station as the General Manager for a season and in that time he hired me full time to first do overnights and then to do afternoons full time.
In that entire seven year stretch from about 1985 to 1992, I had opportunity to spend a great deal of one on one time with Rich not only as a good friend but as a protegee sitting under his amazing ability to "flow and go" in and by the spirit. What I could have never began to understand just by listening on friday nights, I began to be fascinated by as I would watch Rich pray and meditate for several minutes between each and every track of music being careful to only select what he felt the Lord's spirit was leading. At the peak of our chemistry together we would both be in different studios, sometimes not even having eye contact but he would be on the mic sharing and I would be the carefully praying and meditating before the Lord as to what to play under him and after he would be done sharing.
People would often call in reporting unexpected miracles and we knew the Lord was not just resting on us, but was pouring Himself out on others who were taking the time to do what we were doing, just patiently waiting on Him. The times that we would both be flowing in the same river were just indescribable and laid incredible foundation in me for what God was calling me to accomplish in the coming decades.
Rich and I would reunite some twelve years later at WLRY in Rushville, OH and one night in particular we found that amazing mutual chemistry and flow on Final Flight. As Rich was sharing and I was lining up songs under and around his sharing, although we were sitting in a small studio with no open windows, no air conditioner and no fans, the most cool and gentle breeze began to blow thru the room. It blew over both of our faces and I remember seeing it grace the edges of Rich's beard and we both saw it blow over the hair in our arms. We both stopped in awe of the moment and finally Rich slowly getting himself back together says on the air "sorry for the dead air, we just had a friend blow in unexpectedly". We both just smiled.
Rich went home to be with the Lord several years ago now and I am now older than Rich was when we first met all those years ago but one thing time cannot steal or stain is the precious and gentle way the Holy Spirit still blows in, (often unexpectedly) on those of us who prioritize Him and His presence. To this day I never feel a breeze blow on my face that I don't flashback with fond remembrance of Jesus blowing in on us in that small little studio.
Here is my original post about RIch's passing back in 2014.
Here is my follow up post and prophetic word to all after his passing in 2014.
Thanks for reading, more later.
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