Bott Radio boss, noted youth evangelist tabbed for Distinguished Service Awards
By Bob Baysinger
November 4, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY – Two long-time contributors to the moral strength of Missouri will receive the 2003 Christian Life Commission (CLC) Distinguished Service Award at the 2003 annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention.
Dick Bott, president and chief executive officer of the Bott Radio Network, and Joe White, president of Kanakuk Kamps, will be honored when the annual awards are handed out Nov. 5 during the convention at the Millenium Hotel in St. Louis.
“Both of our 2003 Distinguished Service Award recipients consistently and continuously demonstrate a remarkable commitment to transforming our culture towards Godliness and holy living," said Rodney Albert, CLC chairman. “Both of them are well respected throughout this nation and are great role models for each of us to mimic in our own ministries."
Neither Bott nor White are native Missourians.
Bott was born in Minnesota , getting his start on radio singing on a radio program in Minneapolis for the state director of child evangelism.
White played football at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas and later became a football coach at Texas A&M University.
“Bott holds high standards for broadcast excellence," Albert said. “His commitment is to solid, biblical preaching that exalts Jesus Christ.
“Instead of playing it safe by sticking to a program of preaching only, he consistently uses broadcast time to educate listeners on pressing moral and political issues. He could sell those minutes to some nationally syndicated program, but instead he uses those segments to offer a voice calling Christians to be light in a culture of darkness."
Bott Radio is nondenominational Christian, unaffiliated with any church. It is supported wholly by corporate sponsors and advertisers.
Bott launched the network in 1962 with one AM station in Independence . The network has grown to 18 stations in 14 markets in seven states.
“The fourth station added to the network in 1982 was KSIV in St. Louis .
“ St. Louis was a really big leap of faith. Faith in God was always the component that gave me the courage to go ahead and make that leap," Bott said on the 40th anniversary of his network.
According to Bott, the difference between his radio stations and secular stations is the priority of profit. He said the purpose of Bott Radio is to spread the Gospel of Jesus, not to make a profit.
Bott often tells how KSIV was instrumental in bringing someone to Christ. Raised Jewish, U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, R-Missouri, happened to be listening to the station while he was driving in St. Louis . The speaker told the audience they could be a Christian right then if they wanted. Talent pulled his car into a public school parking lot, bowed his head and prayed to receive Christ.
White, known widely for the evangelistic sermons he takes to college campuses across the nation, began working in the family business – Kanakuk Kamps – in 1972. Four years later, he and his wife, Debbie Jo, were asked to take the helm at Kanakuk, headquartered at Branson.
“White’s commitment to the youth of our culture is legendary," Albert said. “If we all had an ounce of his zeal for impacting today’s teen culture, then we’d see great changes in this nation. His impact will continue to increase as we see the youth he has influenced become leaders throughout this nation.
“White does more than entertain kids and give them happy memories. He is creating in them a thirst for serving God with their whole being – and that’s how you change this culture."
During the past 25 years, White has written 14 books designed to reach teens and families. Many of his books have been published through Focus on the Family.
In 1991, he was awarded an honorary doctor of education from Southwest Baptist University and was ordained by University Baptist Church , Fayetteville , Ark. , on May 3, 1992 . In 1998, White and his wife established Christian Children’s Charity, which funds the operation of 19 schools in Haiti , providing food and clothing as well as an education for 7,000 Haitian children.
White now maintains a busy speaking schedule with the Promise Keeper’s organization, speaking almost every weekend between May and November. He has gained a great deal of recognition through his portrayal of the “Cross Builder" and more recently his portrayal of the Apostle Peter.
The Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to Missourians who have rendered service to the cause of Jesus Christ. Their service must require an uncommon sacrifice of time, effort, resources or reputation and must serve to advance the cause of Christian citizenship.