Dick Bott; Man of Vision
By: Patricia Partney Dascher
Dick Bott, Chairman and Founder with his son, Rich Bott, II President/CEO of the Bott Radio Network (BRN)] have more than ninety stations in part of fifteen states reaching nearly fifty million people throughout the United States. The goal of the Network is to provide quality Bible teaching with Christian news and information. Multitudes listen to Bott Radio Network learning the deep truths of God’s word through the greatest Bible teachers of today.
Dick Bott has been behind a microphone since he was a boy singing for Child Evangelism in churches throughout Minneapolis, Minnesota. His career in sales began at the age of nine when he sold apples out of a wagon to the neighbors. "We had three apple trees in the back yard and my mom let me have all the ones that fell on the ground. I earned ten cents a bag and usually sold three bags a day."
World War II pulled America out of a major depression. "My dad struggled until the war broke out when he was able to get a job that paid $100 a week at a defense plant," said Bott. "I never thought to ask my dad for money although he would have given it to me had I asked. When I needed money I figured out a way to earn it."
As a boy, Bott ordered items out of the Spore Catalog at discount rates and sold them door to door. He later worked as a Bell Hop at the Curtis Hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota. "I hid my tips in a little box in the basement of the hotel so I wouldn’t spend them. Then when I wanted to take Sherley out I had the money."
His career in radio began after marrying his lovely wife Sherley Patterson at the age of nineteen. Her father owned a Radio Station in San Francisco that aired shows for China Town, the Black, Italian, Hispanic and Greek communities. Bott was hired to sell advertising for 20% commission plus room and board at his in-laws home. He worked hard and made friends with ethnic groups throughout San Francisco as well as the national and local advertisers. Within a short time he was able to buy a home and start a family.
After becoming very successful at selling advertising for his father in-law’s radio station, Bott had a vision of having his own station. To have the money to buy a station, they sold their home with all their furniture and moved back in with Sherley’s parents where they had their third child. With the sale of the home they had $10,000 to buy a station.
Sherley’s friends at church wondered how she could give up her nice home and furniture. "We didn’t feel we were making a big sacrifice. When the vision is big, the sacrifice seems small," Sherley reminisced.
A station in Salinas/Monterey, California was being sold by two men who lived in Oregon. They had bought the station five years previously to make a profit but the manager they hired did not act responsibly in running the station and the DJ’s partied all the time. They were losing money and had to sell for the price they paid for it. Bott bought the station for $250,000; he paid $5000 down and took on three mortgages. The first thing he did was fire the DJ’s and hire an announcer who played Big Band music and gave the weather and a little news. "I already had the contacts so selling advertising was not difficult. We never missed a payment and were able to pay off the station in 3 ½ years," Dick said.
After the station was paid off Bott began to think there had to be a greater purpose for his life. He wanted to make a difference. "The radio station we were running was profitable, but it wasn’t satisfying. It wasn’t making a difference in the lives of people. I told Sherley that I wanted to have a Christian radio station. Christians buy furniture and eat just as everyone else does. Why not have a radio station for the Christian community?"
In the 50’s and early 60’s there were only a few Christian Radio stations and they were all run by Christian organizations or churches. There were no fully commercial stations offering only Christian Programming. "Whatever we do," Bott told his wife Sherley, "the programs on our station must be totally trustworthy with financial integrity."
Things were going so well in Salinas Monterey that they didn’t jump into selling the station to start another endeavor. A lawyer contacted Bott saying he had a client that wanted to buy his station. Without putting the station up for sale it sold for $350,000, which was $100,000 more than they paid for it three years previously.
After selling the station the Bott family took a year off. "We may never have a time like this again," Bott told Sherley. "A time to enjoy life and our family."
That year the Bott family found a house in Daly City, California and bought a 35 foot cabin cruiser. For a solid year they enjoyed each other and their children. "After a year it was hard to go back to work, but I had promised God I would start that Christian Radio Station," Dick related.
Bott looked for a market that had at least a million people. Doing the math Bott knew that if there were only 100,000 people and 5% listened to his station the audience would only be 5000 listeners. There had to be a million people to make it worthwhile with at least 50,000 listeners. He wasn’t concerned where it was as long as there was a market of a million people. A Country/Western station was for sale in Independence, Missouri, which covered the whole Kansas City metropolitan area. The owner had died so the station was in probate. Bott purchased it for $300,000 and filed with the FCC to buy the station which took six months. The station was at the Blue Ridge Mall so the family stayed at the U-Smile Inn on 40 Highway.
They brought a U-Haul trailer with only their clothes, some folding chairs and the children’s toys and looked for a house that would rent to a family with four children. They found a place in Mission, Kansas which made it a long drive to 40 Highway in Independence before I-70 was built.
He let the DJ’s of the Country Western Station go and hired Bill Freeman as the announcer. On November 12th, 1962 there was one minute of silence. Then Bill Freeman announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, this is KCCV 1510, Kansas City’s Christian Voice." The Billy Graham Crusade Choir sang, "Oh For A Thousand Tongues to Sing." Then the song, "We Have a Story to Tell to the Nations," was played. Tears welled up in Dick Bott’s eyes as he recalled that miraculous day in 1962 when Bott Radio Network first began.
Today there are more than ninety Bott Radio Network stations throughout the country in Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming. Multitudes have learned the Bible through wise teachers such as Dr. Chuck Swindoll, J. Vernon McGee, Billy Graham, Dr. Charles Stanley, Dr. James Kennedy, Dr. Adrian Rogers, Chip Ingram and Dick Bott’s "The Complete Story."
On Tuesday, March 11th, 2008, Richard P. "Dick" Bott, Sr. was inducted into the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame at the organization's annual convention in Nashville, Tennessee. The NRB is the world's largest association of Christian communicators, with over 1,400 member organizations, and the Hall of Fame Award is the highest honor the organization confers. Past recipients have included Dr. Billy Graham, Dr. James Dobson, Dr. Theodore Epp, Dr. Charles Swindoll, Dr. D. James Kennedy, and Dr. Charles Stanley.
Dick Bott, with his son Richard Bott, II,(President/CEO), along with all the Bott Radio Network Staff are fulfilling the Great Commission by doing what Jesus said, "Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:16-20.
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