“If you can hear my voice, you’re in Bibleway Country.” When I first started working at WCIN, I did a five hour midday shift on saturdays from 10am til 3pm. On Sundays I worked as a board operator and I introduced many of the pre-recorded programs. It was then that I honed a lot of the skills I would need for my almost thirty year tenure at WCIN. My Sunday shift was from 12 noon until sign-off which in those days…mid 70’s…was at Midnite on Sunday nights.
There was only one live broadcast that I was to make sure was put on at the designated time and that was the BibleWay Church of God in Christ broadcast which aired at one o’clock in the afternoon. I would check the feed from the church around 12:45 to make sure we would be ready to go to air at one. Faithfully, at one o’clock, straight up, I would hear the words that would give me an hour to go to the production room and work on doing commercials, splicing tapes and doing what I needed to do to be able to be ready for the call to “full time announcer” from Bob Long..
|Reverend Abraham Isaac Jacob Swanson XII|
I had known of the gospel announcer known as “Little Abraham” but the shift I had at the time of my early employment didn’t afford me the opportunity to meet the man himself.
When you think about WCIN, Reverend Abraham Isaac Jacob Swanson XII definitely must come to mind. I remember years ago…before I even considered a career in radio…hearing Little Abraham on the air in the middle of the morning and thinking it was odd to hear gospel programming at that time of morning. I came to realize that placement of certain programming had a lot to do with management and it’s perception of where particular show should be aired. Rev. Swanson was to eventually make early morning a time where listeners would rise up and start their day with questions that would have them thumbing through the pages of their bibles trying to find answers to the questions he would pose to the listeners.
Reverend Swanson was off the air for a period when WCIN was going through it’s Classical Music period…but when the opportunity to return became available, Little Abraham was back doing what he had been doing for so many previous years.
Reverend Abraham Isaac Jacob Swanson XII was the long standing founding Pastor of BibleWay Church of God in Christ..3231 Woodburn Ave. in Evanston and maintained a strong following even into the days of his failing health.
Reverend Swanson showed that the gospel announcer could be just as visible as the mainstream announcers. His impact will never be forgotten by anyone who had the privilege of being in his presence and had a chance to be a recipient of his wisdom.
I have a very special place in my heart for Little Abraham because of the times we shared early in the mornings at WCIN. I was program director for a period of time and got a chance to really get to know the “Little Preacher with the big smile.” He was compassionate and had an unwavering love of God that he would share to anyone who had an ear. When I acknowledged the role that God has in my life..Reverend Swanson was one of the first people that I shared that information with. He was genuinely happy for me and offered his vast knowledge for me to tap into and even critiqued a presentation I had to do as one of the “Seven Sayings of Christ from the Cross.”
One of the great attributes of this legend was his dedication. Reverend Swanson lived quite a few miles from the radio station, but there was never a day, that I can recall, when he was either late or didn’t make it in at all. His journey from home would include days when roads were treacherous and almost impassable. That didn’t matter to Little Abraham who had to get to his media pulpit where there were hundreds of listeners who got up to hear his inspirational message as well as his teachings, in his own unique way, of the Word of God. One of the highlights of his morning trivia was his call to the then Elder Carl Whittaker, who now pastors Bibleway Church of God in Christ. The sometimes sleepy and groggy Elder Whittaker would be asked to answer biblical questions that we now see, in retrospect, was Reverend Swanson’s way of preparing him for the mantle that was to passed on to him. This was Reverend Swanson’s wisdom at work.
Since I had to be on the air at 6am to relieve him, I would get up around 4am to start preparing for my shift. I would turn on the radio to hear Reverend Swanson pray with the many listeners and also give the opportunity to others to give the daily prayer…I’ll tell you..sometimes you felt as though you were in the very presence of God when Bishop Swanson prayed. You knew that he had Gods’ undivided attention as he prayed on our behalf.
His preaching style was unique and respected in the COGIC community as well as the ecumenical world at large. He was barely visible behind the pulpit because of his stature but his presence was felt in whatever venue that was blessed to hear him preach.
Gospel artists had the utmost respect for Bishop Swanson, especially Charles Fold, who he considered a very good musician and artist.
Looking back on those mornings..watching how he had complete control of his atmosphere, I fondly remember how he used to back-time the Ink Spots tune…”You left me everything but you”,
so that it would end exactly at six o’clock…straight up. We would laugh about it because he would hit it every time…He would come back in the studio and look up at the clock just as the song ended and look at me and smile…acknowledging that he had done it again…I really miss those times.
I was able to find a recording of his classic sign-off…I hope you enjoy it as much as I do…
May he rest in peace as his memory continues to inspire….