"Why 'Day 1'?"
I've been asked that question about the name of our radio program more than once--the latest came in a conversation last week. Sure, the name is simple and it sounds nice, but many people don't get it.
Well, here's the scoop.
When I became executive producer of "The Protestant Hour" in March 2001, the organization had just gone through some major changes. The board of The Protestant Hour, Inc. (formerly The Protestant Radio & Television Center) had sold the humongous facility--which at one time housed the largest TV/film sound stage in the Southeast, as well as a full chapel with choir loft and a Schlicher pipe organ used for live and taped programs, a studio and recording booth, and lots of office space. But the building had deteriorated to a dangerous degree.
The organization had leased office space and built a new recording studio in the Pritchett Children's Center on the campus of All Saints' Episcopal Church in Midtown Atlanta (where we still are today). I was given my marching orders to rebuild the then 56-year-old organization around "The Protestant Hour" radio program.
The program had been on the air weekly since 1945, but the number of radio stations carrying it had dropped from a high of something like 650 in the 1960s to about 130 in 2001 (we're now back up over 200). Four denominations had funded the program for decades: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Methodist Church, and The Episcopal Church through the independent Episcopal Media Center (with whom we merged in 2004 to form the Alliance for Christian Media).
Each denomination assigned a staff member to serve as their producer for "The Protestant Hour" programs featuring their preachers. At that time they split the year up so each denomination had 13 programs a year in rotation.
As executive producer, it was my job to coordinate the production with these wonderful folks: Mindy Marchal (PCUSA), Rhonda Washington (ELCA), Bill Richards (UMC), and Skip Schueddig (EMC), who today serves as president of our parent organization. They selected their own preachers and arranged to accompany them to Atlanta to record. We also met as a committee every few months to discuss the program format, promotion, distribution, fundraising, and other issues. They were terrific colleagues and advisers in my early days with the organization.
During my first meeting with these four producers in April 2001, I learned that one of the top items on their agenda was to change the program name. Frankly I was a little surprised--there was a lot of history in that name. But they explained that "The Protestant Hour" sounded dated. In a climate of interfaith dialog, we needed a name that was more of an open invitation to the audience, rather than exclusive (e.g., this program is for Protestants only!). To top it off, the program was not an "hour"--and never had been.
Together we came up with dozens of alternatives. Eventually we were drowning in possible names, some interesting, others not so. We worked that whole summer by email and phone, but nothing was grabbing everybody.
One Friday evening late that summer I went with some friends to a Mexican restaurant. I was munching on chips and salsa while expressing my frustration with the new name effort, throwing out some of the names we'd come up with that weren't getting us anywhere. Between chips, one friend said, "How about 'Day 1'?"
I looked at him as though he had lost his mind. "'Day 1'?! What does that have to do with anything?" I asked.
He rattled off some very compelling reasons:
- "Day 1" alludes to the first day of the week, Sunday, the Lord's day, the day the church gathers for worship and to celebrate the resurrection of Christ (and the day the vast majority of our radio stations air the program).
- The first day of creation brought light, and that's what we try to do--shine some light on our faith and life today.
- It sounds hopeful and positive--"this is the first day of the rest of your life."
- It implies unity, which speaks of our ecumenical nature.
- It's short, easy to remember, a common phrase without being too common.
I liked it! That Monday I emailed the idea out to the producers, to very positive response. But we still wanted to test a few names with radio stations and other folks through a firm we'd worked with on some other radio projects. We selected: Day 1, Faith Journey, Together, and Wellspring. Eventually, after some informal testing, they came back with the report that the number one choice was... Together!
Well, market testing doesn't always work. In a September conference call, the producers decided to go with their heart.
"After much deliberation, brainstorming, planning, and testing, our producers and staff believe we have an ideal new name for the program," I told our board of trustees in a conference call on January 22, 2002.
The board's vote to change the name of the program to "Day 1" was unanimous and enthusiastic.
We instituted the change on air beginning with the third quarter of 2002, on July 7--the same Sunday we featured the first preacher from our newest denominational partner, the United Church of Christ. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship joined us shortly after. By 2003 we were on our own as an organization, having lost most of the financial support of the denominations. In 2004 we created a stronger, independent organization: the Alliance for Christian Media.
I believe the decision of the producers and the board to rename the program "Day 1" has helped us to better fulfill our mission in the 21st century: to proclaim a passionate faith to thinking people.
"Day 1" reminds us of the gracious, loving, fresh start God gives us each day--as God has from the beginning of creation. And we hope our program continues to offer this encouragement to our listeners as they prepare to face their day, and their week, with a powerful message of God's love, care, and calling.
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5)
On the first day of the week, when we met to break bread... (Acts 20:7)