Thanks to STN for letting me know I was back in the Valley for 3 minutes.
Back when WHNT started “For Goodness Sake” about 10 years ago, we debuted the series or franchise with a 5 part look at faith. We talked to people about why their faith is such a big part of their lives. We talked with people with no faith in a higher being about their skepticism.
I was a bit concerned about how we would tell this story visually. There are no great pictures to illustrate someone’s thoughts or feelings. We didn’t have any archive footage of Jesus or the Reformation or the Second Coming of Christ. I didn’t know how we’d do this seemingly “newspaper story” on television.
Then I found out The Freedom from Religion Foundation was holding it’s annual national convention in Huntsville. All of these atheists and agnostics practically came to our door.
My news director wondered what would be the reaction if we put these folks on tv for all of the Bible Belt viewers to see. They did have some pretty radical ideas about God, or the lack of a God. I remember one soundbyte to this day “I was raised in a Baptist church, was saved and baptized. But as I got older I had to come to grips with the FACT that there is no God, and there was no such person as Jesus”.
There were others that I was sure would send many of our viewers running for the phone.
We discussed these soundbytes and decided we had to air them. People did go running for the phones, but they weren’t blasting us for airing the comments.
I remember after the first piece aired, (it was an on-set introduction) I ran back to the newsroom and listened to our “feedback line” which gave viewers an opportunity to leave their comments. The comments came for more than an hour, one right after the other. We aired many of these feedback calls the next night and For Goodness Sake was off and running.
Carson Clark (a reporter/anchor) at WHNT ran one of those first stories in last night’s Sunday broadcast. A 12 year old story that I hope viewers still found interesting and relevant. Thanks Carson, for keeping this religion reporter back in the news.