If you think you have heard it all, there may be a new radio experience for you starting this weekend.
For more than 85 years, Radio 2CH has broadcast Christian content along with its regular programming because the original owner of the licence was the NSW Council of Churches. The call sign was short for “Church House”. In the 1970s the station switched to an easy-listening format, derided as elevator music when it was first introduced.
Now 2CH, at 1170 on the AM dial, has been bought by the Sports and Entertainment Network and renamed SEN 1170. The new format will be a mix of sports talk and live commentary.
The challenge of integrating Christian content in a sports format is being met by a series of vignettes to be broadcast across the week, featuring the stories of sport and the sayings of Jesus. On Sunday nights, former rugby league player Jason Stevens is hosting a program called The Spirit of Sport.
Stevens, well known as a Christian during his playing years, is now a media personality with credits in TV, film, stage and radio. He will interview prominent sportspeople every Sunday night from 9pm on 1170.
“My hope is to have a good conversation with people and learn about their lives – their highs, their lows, how they climbed the ladder and what they’ve learnt thus far,” he says.
“Ultimately I’d like people to walk away having listened and been encouraged and inspired. But I also like people to have a laugh because life can be so stressful at times – we need to see the lighter side!”
Stevens’ humour has been evident in a range of media performances, including singing, appearing on Dancing with the Stars and making a movie based on his playing life called Chasing Comets. But he has also delved into serious issues, narrating a documentary on child soldiers and underprivileged children in South America.
His challenge on The Spirit of Sport is getting sportspeople and sports fans interested in Jesus.
“I think the best way is to be authentic, and if people can share their stories then it always opens the door for someone to think about the role God is currently playing – or maybe not playing – in their life,” he says. “It’s important for me to try and let people know that they are much loved.”
The Spirit of Sport starts on November 1 on 1170 SEN with special guest, former Rugby League international Brad Mackay.
Main photo: Jason Stevens and his wife Rebecca (centre) with actresses Kat Hoyos and Isabel Lucas from 'Chasing Comets'