In 1997, I started working my first web design job, a part-time late-night gig updating a major newspaper's web site (back in the days of Adobe Pagemill 2.0 and Quark Xpress). I would start at 9PM, and I could leave when I got the last article posted online. I typically wrapped up the job at around 1AM on weekdays when the last of the sportswriters' articles would get finished and sent to the presses. On Saturdays, the job's starting/ending time was shifted to around 7PM-11PM, as the Sunday paper was typically put together and printed much earlier than the weekday editions. My commute home from this job was only about 10 minutes long, but since I was a night owl (and still am, mostly), I would often take the "long way" home on back roads to unwind and listen to WJYP, the local Christian radio station. It was on these drives that I discovered most of my current favorite music on the program MBN Saturday Night.
WJYP 100.9 FM carried the feed from the Moody Broadcasting Network (a Christian radio outfit based in Chicago, affilliated with the Moody Bible Institute) in the late evenings and overnights. During the post-midnight weekday mornings, it was Mike Kellogg's Music Thru The Night on the radio during my extended drives home, which I liked - but Saturdays were what I looked forward to the most. MBN Saturday Night ran in three one-hour segments, from 9-10PM and then 11PM-1AM. I would usually catch the last two hours on my post-work drives. The program was hosted by Steve Wick, later by Dave Trout and eventually replaced by other programming sometime in the early 2000s.
What I liked the most about the music on MBN Saturday Night is that it wasn't "churchy". The songs were upbeat, down-to-earth titles about living the Christian life that really resonated with me, and still do. The show featured a great variety of creative and talented artists (Eli, Layton Howerton, Geoff Moore and Rick Elias to name a few), and types of music that you wouldn't hear or discover anywhere else - like Christian jazz, for example. By contrast, much of what is on Christian radio these days is mainly in the praise and worship genre. I like praise and worship, don't get me wrong - but I really miss that era of the creative, inspired everyday-Christian-life type music that used to have its own small corner on the radio. I'm not saying that current Christian radio stations should change, far from it. They've done their demographic research and figured out what people like to hear, and that's perfectly fine. I accept that people like me are 'oddities' that wouldn't make sense to design broadcasts around. Furthermore, thanks to this being the internet age, there are still a few places you can find new less-popular-but-quality music - one of the better being Dave Trout's Under the Radar podcast (Trout, again, was a former MBN Saturday Night host).
Those "MBN Saturday Night drives", as I called them, didn't seem very significant at the time - but as I've grown older, I realize that they were some of my best memories in that era of my life. The music I discovered during those drives has stuck with me and provided encouragement and "lifted spirits" to this day. I still hit the road sometimes late at night and cue up a playlist of MBN Saturday Night music.
Christian jazz 'fillers' from the show
When Steve Wick was the host of MBN Saturday Night in the late 1990s, the last few minutes of each hourly segment of the show featured some Christian jazz selections. These were mainly instrumental renditions of classic hymns, really creative stuff that I enjoyed. A few years ago, I started searching for these on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play without any luck. Last week, I discovered that Steve Wick maintained a web site, and sent him an email about the end-of-show music. He was gracious enough to respond with a list, which I'm repeating here:
Brentwood Jazz Quartet: Album Love Knows Brentwood Jazz Quartet: Album Living In The Here And Now Brentwood Jazz Quartet: Album Secret Signature Brentwood Jazz Quartet: Album Something To Believe Brentwood Jazz Quartet: Album The Bill Cantos Project The Players
These are out-of-print CDs that you'll have to order from Amazon or eBay sellers, but they are out there. I was elated to be able to add these to my music folder and thus finally have a complete 1990s-vintage MBN Saturday Night playlist! My favorite out of all of these is Brentwood's A Mighty Fortress - a song I vividly remember on those midnight drives in the country. I could hardly believe my ears when I listened to it again this past week, it had been at least 15 years since I'd last heard it! Many thanks to Steve for ending my search for those tracks.
By the way, if you were a listener of the show in those years and enjoy that type of music, you will probably like Steve Wick's own discography available at his Bandcamp web site. I purchased three of his CDs and they have made great additions to my music folder. I even remember hearing a few of his selections on Moody radio in that late-1990s era.
The following comments were posted before this site switched to a new comment system on August 27, 2016:
MBN Saturday Night
In the mid 90’s I was a new Christian and I was just getting acquainted with CCM. The Lord lead me to MBN Saturday Night (MBN – SN) on Moody WMBI in Chicago, and I completely enjoyed the music they played. The music on (MBN – SN) was somehow different then music played on other Christian Radio. I had something to do with the selection of artist and songs but I would often drive to the lakefront and sit and listen to the music. Much of the CCM music on my iPhone is songs I heard on (MBN – SN).
I can't explain it but the music played on Christian radio is all the same bland nondescript music. The music on (MBN – SN) was unique. Today my iPod played “A Place For Us” by Kim Hill, a wonderful song. I have to say they don’t make them like that anymore.
I tell people about (MBN – SN) but nobody I have talked to understands what I am talking about. So it was so refreshing to read you blog. I could not agree with you more in your description of (MBN – SN). God bless you.
Your in Him
Richard C. Anderson
- Posted by RICHARD C. ANDERSON from CHICAGO
Richard, thanks for your comment. It is nice to hear that others listened to and enjoyed the show as much as I did. - Posted by Dan R. from New Baden, IL