RetroRadio – Ada’s Story

RetroRadio is a series of posts of radio segments from my time working at 98five Sonshine FM covering everything from issues of spirituality to chats with visiting musicians and celebrities.

Hopefully, the segments spark a few memories and a few thoughts.

This Thursday, 98five is running Sponsor a Village, seeking to see a hundred children from the Philippines sponsored through Compassion Australia. I do hope that you’ll get involved and sponsor a child.

We hear a lot about ‘reality television’ these days but I still reckon radio is a great way to convey real stories. You don’t need a full production crew with cameras everywhere to capture reality for radio. A small audio recording device is a lot less intrusive than a camera or three and so people can tend to open up a lot more. Of course, having worked in radio for over 25 years I’m probably biased.

In 2008 when I was working for 98five, hosting the morning program, I saw the work of Compassion for the first time when I was invited to travel to Haiti and Dominican Republic.

DominicanRepublic

With Sponsor a Village coming up this week I’m remembering that very first trip where I was gathering stories about Compassion to be used on radio.

Today I want to highlight just one of the stories that came out of the trip in 2008.

I’ve interviewed dozens of famous singers, authors, personalities, politicians and celebrities over the years but if I had the chance to choose one moment from my radio career that stands high above the others it is the opportunity to tell Ada’s story.

Ada’s Story

The story of this young girl will break your heart then give you renewed hope in the difference that each one of us can make in the lives of others.

I beg you to take just fourteen minutes to listen to Ada’s story. I know that for many, setting aside fourteen minutes is too much to ask. If you’re one of the few who takes the time, I guarantee it’ll be worth it.

If you want to hear something to lift your spirits just click play on the audio player at the bottom of this post.

The whole story is worth hearing but I’ll warn you now that it will really start to touch your heart around half way through.

Ada is a girl I met and interviewed in Dominican Republic. She was a beautiful twelve year old with a bright future. I wish I could show you the picture I had taken with the two of us but I prefer to keep her identity somewhat private. You’ll understand why as you listen.

I talked to Ada, I visited her home and talked to her parents. I’m sure that all of us that visited her home on that day will remember the warm hug she gave each one of us as we left. She was a remarkable young girl.

Back then, I managed to track down her sponsor in Australia and shared Ada’s story with her. Lisa’s reaction to hearing her sponsored child’s voice is priceless. Hearing Lisa describe how she feels when she hears just how much of an impact she has had on Ada’s life is inspiring.

I don’t know what else I can say but to again beg that you take the time to hear this amazing story. If you do take the time, please let me know.



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When Social Media isn’t Social

When I first entered the courtroom I had no idea of the events that were about to unfold. I didn’t know I’d be there for around six weeks, listening to dozens of people being questioned by prosecution and defence lawyers.

It was many years ago and I’d been chosen to serve on the jury of a criminal case. The case was estimated to run for a couple of weeks but one and a half months later we finally ‘retired to consider a verdict’.

It was only after all the twists and turns of the evidence, direction from the judge, copious legal arguments and much more along the way that we were ready to consider all that we’d seen and heard and then deliver a verdict on each of the charges.

It still took the twelve of us many hours to finally agree. That process involved reviewing the case, including expert evidence, and discussing various points together to ensure justice for everyone involved in the case.

What fascinated me at the time was the media reporting.

I had no doubt that people would have been making up their own minds on the case based on the occasional 90 second television reports and the two or three hundred word reports in the paper.

We had heard countless hours of in depth evidence, they had seen a 90 second report. How could they make a solid decision on such a small amount of evidence? Quite obviously they couldn’t.

Judge, Jury and Executioner

Unfortunately, when it comes to social media we seem to have thrown out all need to understand an issue before we decide where we stand. We base our position on existing prejudices and decide that anyone holding any other view is an idiot who deserves our contempt and hate.

We don’t take the time to research a topic, weigh up the evidence and then have a reasoned conversation. Instead, we see people jumping in with inflammatory statements devoid of any attempt to hear another perspective or to show respect.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against developing a conversation and seeking the facts to understand more about what happened but that’s a million miles away from taking on the job of judge, jury and executioner based on media reports.

Whether it’s a major news story or simply a fun YouTube video, our unlimited access to various forms of social media has given us unprecedented opportunity to share our opinions and the fact that most of those opinions aren’t supported by the facts doesn’t seem to trouble anyone.

Whenever someone publishes anything online you can almost guarantee a barrage of comments that range between sycophantic worship and death threats. Where’s the middle ground? Where’s the reasoned discussion?

We’ve lost the ability to display compassion and empathy.

Many seem to forget that those involved in the stories they pronounce their opinions on are real people who are very likely to read those comments and suffer from the words of those who don’t know or care to understand the wider story.

When we cross the line, when we mess up and get it wrong, we hope that others will take into account what brought us to that point, not to excuse our behaviour but to understand it, and then that they’ll offer forgiveness.

Why are we so unprepared to offer that to others?

Why are we so quick to pass judgement on those we don’t even know? Why do we feel such a strong desire to vilify others publicly without knowing their story?

Sadly, as well as causing untold damage to those who are targeted, those making comments can end up looking foolish and uninformed. It would be better for many to simply remain silent.

Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent. – Proverbs 17:28

Social media has given us an incredible platform to share our stories and our humanness but we shouldn’t take it lightly and we shouldn’t simply use it as an opportunity to bring others down.

None of us ever know what lies around the corner for us but whatever it is, I hope that there’ll still be people ready to offer words that heal rather than words that tear down.



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