‘Your Story Hour’ Radio Ministry Celebrates 75 Years

Despite its humble beginnings, weekly program is now broadcast around the world.

Caralin Griggs, Your Story Hour, and Adventist Review
‘Your Story Hour’ Radio Ministry Celebrates 75 Years
In March 2024, radio ministry Your Story Hour is turning 75 years old. [Photo: Your Story Hour]

What started as a half-hour story time aired on a single radio station (WHFB in Benton Harbor, Michigan, United States) on March 27, 1949, is now a weekly program broadcast on thousands of radio stations around the world.

Your Story Hour (YSH) produces 30-minute non-denominational Christian radio programs. The family-friendly audio dramas tell inspirational stories based on the Bible, historical heroes, missionaries, modern-day miracles, and modern-day adventures that teach biblical values and positive character traits.

YSH programs are distinguished by their high-quality acting, music, and sound effects. People can listen to the programs for free on the radio, on YouTube, and on the YSH website. 

Listeners may be surprised to discover that in the beginning, the ministry wasn’t designed for radio at all. Stanley Hill, the founder of YSH, along with a small group of other people, had the idea to get children off the streets on Saturday afternoons by starting a story hour above the fire station in Eau Claire, Michigan. Soon, children were flocking to the fire station every week to hear Bible and character-building stories. 

When H. M. S. Richards, founder of the Voice of Prophecy radio ministry, heard about the story hour, he had a revolutionary idea.

“Your program should be on the air. We ought to have a radio program for children,” he said. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

But how could a group of lay people with no radio experience produce a weekly program? God had the answer. He led Virgil Isles, a student at Emmanuel Missionary College (now Andrews University) to offer to write the scripts and produce the programs. Soon, the first recording studio for YSH was located in the basement of the Isles’ home.

From these humble beginnings, YSH began to grow. The studio moved from the Isles’ basement in Berrien Springs to the back of a barbershop, to a converted garage, to a factory in Medina, Ohio. Finally, in the 1980s, the ministry moved to its current location in downtown Berrien Springs, in a building that used to be a dairy.

The broadcast grew from one radio station to two, to five, to twenty, to hundreds, to thousands. Recording equipment progressed from records to tape recorders, to reel-to-reel recorders, to high quality digital recording. The ministry expanded from only the English program to add both Spanish and Russian programs. Each of these changes brought financial obstacles that left ministry leaders wondering whether progress would be possible. However, each time God would speak to the hearts of generous donors — many of whom would make personal sacrifices to keep the ministry afloat — and He would provide the funds for the ministry to grow. 

Over the years, God has provided personnel for the ministry in the same way. Recently, YSH was praying for the right people to fill some very big shoes: those of producer, scriptwriter, and Aunt and Uncle radio hosts. Over the course of a couple of years, Fred Meseraull (YSH producer for more than 40 years), Elaine Trumbo-Roberts (scriptwriter of more than 150 YSH scripts), and Chet Damron (radio host Uncle Dan from 1996 to 2017) needed to pass the baton to new staff. Without faith, it might have seemed impossible to fill those roles.

Thankfully, God provided just the right people with just the right skills to carry the mission forward. The newest additions to the YSH family are Nicole Buckhanan (Aunt Nikki) and Jon Clayburn (Uncle Jon), who joined Carole Pezet (Aunt Carole) as beloved radio hosts.

YSH’s history is full of miracles. Every year since the first broadcast, God has provided the funds and people that YSH needs. Your Story Hour truly is God’s ministry. The nonprofit organization — YSH is solely funded by donor contributions — is currently praying for the means and ability to produce new stories in Spanish, and for wisdom and direction in reaching a greater audience in today’s world of media use and rapidly changing technology.

Recent studies have shown that the average American watches almost three hours of television and spends two and a half hours on social media each day. That’s a lot of time! Unsurprisingly, all of this screen time has been shown to have a negative impact on individuals and society: increasing obesity, depression and anxiety, isolation, fear of missing out, low self-esteem, and self-absorption. Additionally, long hours of screen time can have a profound negative impact on children, hindering their development, language, and reasoning skills. 

YSH offers an alternative source of entertainment, inviting children and adults to use their vast imaginations to paint pictures in their minds as they listen to stories of heroes and heroines who exhibit values like faith, courage, responsibility, diligence, and more. The stories are a great way to keep children entertained while doing chores, sitting in the car for commutes and road trips, getting ready for bedtime, and group or personal quiet time.

Though the classic stories are timeless and still beloved by listeners, YSH is dedicated to producing new stories to keep reaching new generations of children. The ministry is looking in faith to another 75 years of God’s blessings! For now, the team at YSH can simply say, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad” (Psalm 126:3, NKJV).

The original version of this story was posted by the Lake Union Herald. Caralin Griggs is Your Story Hour vice president and scriptwriter. Your Story Hour is an independent supporting ministry and is not operated by the corporate Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Caralin Griggs, Your Story Hour, and Adventist Review