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Woodrow M. Kroll likes to arrive at the office early on the mornings he records his Back to the Bible radio messages. By eight o'clock he's seated in a comfortable swivel chair inside a plush and spacious studio, an open Bible and several pages of notes fanned out in front of him on an easel. "We'll do two today and two tomorrow," he announces into the microphone, fidgeting one more time with the stack of papers. Martin Downing, the engineer, nods from the other side of the window in the adjacent control room.

Kroll rehearses a couple of lines from the opening of his message, enough to provide a sound check. Downing makes a few adjustments and signals that he's ready. Kroll clears his throat one last time. "Okay, this would be program 6146," he says. "It's 16 minutes long because it's a Monday program. Here's the iq." In the parlance of Back to the Bible, iq is "interactive question."

Kroll wants his daily broadcast to sound informal, so he opens his 25-minute program with a question from his interlocutor, Don Hawkins. Kroll then talks for 16 minutes and Hawkins asks several questions afterward in a gentle and easygoing conversational style that allows Kroll to highlight some of the points from the day's meditation.

The only problem is that Hawkins, who does a late-night call-in program, is seldom in the building when Kroll records the message, so it is Kroll himself who reads the question that he has scripted for Hawkins: "I like your topic this week, Wood, 'becoming a caring Christian.' There always seems to be a shortage of those kinds of people." Kroll responds to himself, "Yeah, Don, that's true, and it's not a shortage of care among those who simply call themselves 'Christian' as opposed to being a Buddhist or a Muslim ...

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February 19, 2001

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