It all started with a joke between co-workers: “We should host a radio show.”
Five years later, lighthearted banter became a reality for Ed Melick, a member of Grace Community Church in Arlington, and Sal D'Itri, a parishioner at St. Ann Church in Arlington, as they launched their own radio show, “Grace in 30.” The half-hour show, at WERA-LP 96.7 FM, in Arlington, has aired about 20 episodes since it launched in May.
The goal, said D'Itri, is to highlight inspiring people who show the power of God's grace, while calling on listeners to “take concrete steps toward common grace,” and “find their higher purpose.” Recent and upcoming guests have included Sally O'Dwyer, director of volunteers for Catholic Charities; Darlene Bakke, executive director of Borromeo Housing in Arlington; and Joanie Coolidge, regional director for Ignatian Volunteer Corps.
“Grace is this incredibly powerful thing that holds us up in difficult times, and yet it's common,” said Melick, 55.
In December, Arlington County launched a radio station that allowed the two to bring the idea to fruition. As a low-power station, WERA-LP is set up to help people like Melick and D'Itri deliver broadcast-quality shows to a 3.5 mile broadcast area in Arlington.
“It was the right place at the right time, but also maybe this was our higher calling,” said D'Itri, 46.
The two - who had no background in broadcasting - now spend about five to 10 hours a week researching, writing scripts and preparing guests for interviews. Many guests represent nonprofits, and others have unique life stories. The co-hosts hope to take the message of grace in action to a wider audience, online and in other cities.
Melick, who hated public speaking until he was in his 40s, recognizes the irony that he now has the potential to reach up to 700,000 people during a live show. But he sees it as a calling.
“I always say it's not our show; it's God's show,” he said.
Though the two come from different Christian backgrounds, they have long enjoyed an easy rapport, and now a unity in their shared mission.
“We kind of came to this common grace,” said D'Itri. “And that's at the core of everything … We're trying to bring people of all faiths and religions to this common grace.”
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