The Museum of Broadcast Communications will induct eight nominees into the National Radio Hall of Fame on Saturday, including prominent conservative Dr. James Dobson and his "Focus on the Family" radio broadcast.
While staff and supporters of the Focus on the Family ministry have hailed Dobson's selection earlier this summer by the National Radio Hall of Fame & Museum Steering Committee, groups that are opposed to the conservative leader's outspokenness against homosexuality have decried the decision and vowed to protest outside the Renaissance Chicago Hotel, where the Saturday evening induction ceremony will take place.
"It is an affront for the Radio Hall of Fame to honor James Dobson, a right wing demagogue, who built his radio empire on the backs of gay and lesbian people," stated Wayne Besen, executive director of the group Truth Wins Out (TWO), the gay community's response to Dobson's Love Won Out ministry.
"We vow to stand up and protest this outrageous insult and let the world know that Dobson is a dishonest, hatemongering ideologue," he added in a released statement.
Although Focus on the Family is dedicated to serving, strengthening and defending families worldwide, the Christian nonprofit organization has often received criticism from the homosexual community over its biblical view of marriage – which holds it as between one man and one woman – and over its Love Won Out ministry, which sets out to offer hope to those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions.
While many within the pro-gay community claim homosexuality is inherent, most within the conservative community believe it is mostly a personal choice – as evidenced through the significant number of individuals who have left their past homosexual lifestyles and adopted heterosexual ones.
The "ex-gay movement" has particularly garnered a number of critics over the harmful nature of some forms of "reparative therapy."
Dobson, who founded Focus on the Family in 1977, has been one of the most vocal opponents of gay "marriage" in America and is considered a powerful leader within the conservative evangelical community.
His "Focus on the Family" radio program is heard on more than 1,000 stations across the United States by millions of listeners weekly and is one of the largest and most respected resources for practical, emotional and spiritual support for families in the world.
According to Gary Schneeberger, vice president of media and public relations at Focus on the Family Action, the upcoming induction ceremony "recognizes the 32 years Dr. Dobson and 'Focus on the Family' have devoted to helping millions of families thrive — guiding men and women in how to navigate their marriages, raise their children and walk out their Christian faith."
"It is quite an honor, when you consider the long and groundbreaking history of radio, to become the first religiously themed show to earn entry to the hall," he told the ministry's CitizenLink publication.
The election of the 30-minute program into the Hall of Fame is the result of online balloting that began in May and ran through July 15 following its nomination earlier this year. The "Focus on the Family" program won in the "national active" category, which includes "active broadcasters who have made at least 10 years of significant contributions to the industry on a national level."
Besides "Focus on the Family," the hall inducted radio personalities Art Bell, Howie Carr, Charlie Tuna, and Michael "Mickey" Luckoffi, head of San Francisco radio station KGOAM. Posthumous inductees included disc jockey Dick Whittinghill, and talk show hosts Jesse Cain and Bob Collins.
Voting for the 2008 Hall of Fame inductees this year was open to the general public for the first time, adding to votes generated by all active members of the Museum of Broadcast Communications and/or National Radio Hall of Fame and the over 2,000 radio historians and industry leaders selected to participate.
"Focus on the Family" is reportedly the first faith-based radio program to be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.