NRB | James Dobson Reflects on 40 Years in Radio; Sees ‘Reprieve’ in Trump Election

ORLANDO, Fla. (NRB) – Christian broadcasting legend Dr. James Dobson, Founder of Focus on the Family and Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk, was honored for 40 years of broadcast ministry March 2 at Proclaim 17, the NRB International Christian Media Convention in Orlando, and he looked to the future, in part by voicing support for President Donald J. Trump.

In an interview with Fox News Channel’s Todd Starnes, Dobson reflected on his 40 years of broadcast ministry and told how he transitioned from his position on the faculty of the University of Southern California’s School of Medicine to work in radio.

“I saw the institution of the family falling apart. Even back then in the 1970s, there was a tremendous attack on what it means to be married and raising godly children,” Dobson said. “I decided I wanted to do something about it, so I did one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my life. I walked out of there and left the perks of academia, where I was very comfortable, and started Focus on the Family, a little two-room office with a half-time secretary. I didn’t know if the phone would ever ring again.”

To start the radio program, Dobson needed a substantial amount of money up front. He went to Tyndale House Publishers and said he was thinking of writing a book.

“It was all I had to bargain with, so I bribed him and said I would give him my book if he would not pay me an advance but give us money in the form of a grant that I didn’t have to pay back,” Dobson said. “It was $35,000, and Tyndale agreed to that, and that got us started, but that didn’t last very long.”

By the third year, Focus on the Family was $60,000 short of the funds needed to operate, and Dobson gathered his wife, his mother, and a friend from college to pray on their knees together.

“I remember my prayer as though it were yesterday,” Dobson recounted. “I said, ‘Lord, I thought I heard you when you asked me to do this, but I may have made a mistake. But if you’re in this, this would be a real good time to hear from you.’ That was October 1979, and $60,000 came in the next month. We really never looked back from that point on.”

At its peak, Dobson’s radio show was broadcast on 7,000 radio stations in 150 countries, reaching 220 million people per day, he said.

Dobson cited among his greatest blessings receiving a letter from someone saying they found the Lord while listening to his broadcast. Strong families are nothing without Jesus, he said, and the emphasis in every department of Focus on the Family under his leadership was to introduce people to Christ.

In looking to the future, Dobson said the election of Trump should be seen as by God’s hand.

“I’m convinced Donald Trump is God’s man for this hour,” Dobson said, adding, “He is not a perfect man. He’s what I would call a flawed vessel. But so am I, and so are you, and so are all of us.”

Trump, Dobson said, “very well may disappoint us. He may not live up to the standards we expect. But I believe he’s there on purpose.”

America was on the edge of a cliff during the presidential election, Dobson noted, “and I don’t think we would have ever recovered from it, and I thank the Lord for giving us a reprieve.”

“This was not a victory. I call it a reprieve,” Dobson said. “The Lord gave us a reprieve, and the question is: what are we going to do with it? Are we going to support the righteous things that this man is doing and maybe even overlook some things that disappoint us? I hope so.”

The culture at large, Dobson said, does not grasp the importance of the nation’s lower court system, particularly when the U.S. Supreme Court leans left.

“When you have a Supreme Court that leans away from the things that we believe … with regard to marriage and with regard to the sanctity of human life and principles of righteousness, … then the lower court judges don’t have to worry about being overturned,” Dobson said. “They can issue horrible rulings because they know it will stand.”

What’s exciting, he continued, is that because the Republican-led Senate refused to confirm President Obama’s court nominees in his second term, Trump has the opportunity to fill 120 vacant seats at the appellate level or below.

“If the Republicans in the Senate will get on the ball and if the president will hurry up and appoint some of these people, we could change this country,” said Dobson, who worked as an advisor to President Reagan for five years and has counseled four presidents.

Following the interview, NRB President & CEO Dr. Jerry A. Johnson presented an Orlando Magic basketball jersey signed by many NRB leaders to honor Dobson’s 40 years in radio ministry.

The Dobson Digital Library, online at, archives 45 years of Dobson’s work, including 35 books and 8,000 radio programs, searchable by topic.