Steve Schappell-My Blog

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Radio Days...

"Good evening Beaver Falls, My name is Steve Schappell. And I'm Brian Johnson,  And together we are THE MEN, Thursday nights, 9-midnight on FM 88.3 WGEV..."

With those words, my college pal Brian and I started off our weekly 3 hour radio show at our college radio station.  From 1984 to 1988, we were THE MEN, a combination of comedy, music and mayhem.  We took our theme from a song by the band, A.D., and their song "We are the men."

In addition to our radio show, we each had our own slots.  I had mid-Monday with Steve and Weekend shifts.  Here is a photo from the archives when I was on air, showcasing my only one time beard, and the incredible 80's technology.

Let's take a trip back in time to the Reagan 80's and a small college in Western PA.  Geneva College and WGEV, our christian radio station.  I was a communications major at the time, and our radio station was a small building on campus, right along route 18th.  The upstairs had offices, production rooms, storage and the studio, while the downstairs included classrooms, offices, and our mock studio for training. 

Back then, you had to train offline, and then take your FCC test in order to have a Class 1 Radio License, allowing you to broadcast.  Our station was run as a real world station.  We had a Music Director, a Production Director, Newsroom, and other positions.  The positions were unpaid, but were part of the station flow.  We received a playlist for our shifts, but had room for requests.  We had a log of when to play station sounders, commercials, and music.

Once you received your license, you were put into the rotation and were broadcasting weekly, or daily.  Most of our shows were weekly, due to the number of people broadcasting, and our college schedules being more important.

But the technology...that's what I wanted to talk about.  We are in the 80's...well before Cell Phones, CD's, Computers with digital music.  Look back at my photo and what do you see?  In the upper left, a Reel-to-Reel Machine.  To the right of that, (2) Cart Machines that played what looked like 8-track tapes.  Upper right corner are the Carts we played with commercials, music sounders, intros, etc.

I have headphones to listen to songs that were cued up, and there is a clipboard, with the playlist and log.  We had knobs for everything across the long board.  These controlled the sounds from all the machines, and the music from....wait for it...the albums we played.  Yes-VINYL rules!    Of course, later on, we were also using cassettes, but still.

I almost forgot the studio phone at the left.  At least it was push button, and not rotary dial.  No wait, is that a rotary dial there?  Hmmm.

For news, we relied on "Sparky,"  He was our Associated Press, or AP teletype machine.  News and sports scores would come over the wire, and we could enhance it with news from the local paper.  Sparky had a bell when news would come in.  It was what you would call a PUSH service, news was sent to us, after it happened, and then it would be edited together by staff or a DJ for the news.    I remember the day of the Challenger Space Shuttle Explosion.  I was attending Mass Media class with my roomate.  When the class was over, we were walking upstairs and past the studio when Sparky went wild.  The news flowed out and we ran back to our dorm to watch the news unfold on the lobby TV with others in the dorm.

Between our shows, we did production work to prepare for our shows.  For THE MEN, Brian and I would record spots on the Reel-to-Reel tape machine, and then add layers one at a time for sound effects, etc.  To edit our spots, we used an editing block, razor blade, and special tape.  That's how we edited.  Cranking the reel-to-reel back and forth listening for the place to cut and splice the tape.    It was a lot of work, but was the latest technology for the time.

OK, back out of the time machine and back to 2016.  Over the weekend, I volunteered for the Kids Cookie Break Fest, held at the Junction Center in Manheim, home of WJTL.  They are a Christian Broadcasting station, that includes the studio, outside concert venue, indoor stage and event center.  Before my shift began, I was able to attend a studio tour.

The tour included offices, the "Live at the Junction Center" indoor cafe and stage setting, Production rooms, and the Radio Studio.   Part of the time in the studio included asking questions with the current on-air personality (Not a DJ), and looking at how they work on the air.  Take a look at Radio Friend Phil working the controls.

Compare this to my photo.  What a difference.  What you don't see completely are the (4) Monitors.  To the far left, that monitor is open to their facebook and twitter accounts, plus email.  All the social media that comes in is displayed there.  So requests from listeners some in to that terminal.  The black terminal in the photo is the playlist and the digital archives.  For example, I call in a request.  The on air personality can type in the song title or artist and get a list, then select the song and have it ready to play.  There were no records, cassettes or CD's here.  The music is computerized, digital and ready to play.  The other monitor in the photo are for station information related to the transmission, commercial information, and other stuff.  The board is smaller and has sliders for volume control.  No more knobs.  There are tables and microphones for guests and artists, who perform in the studio.

It is not a large studio, but then neither was ours in college.  You don't meet that much room to broadcast out.  We got a look at their production areas.  No Reel to Reel here.  All digital editing, including a recording studio, where personalities create on air content.  For example on Saturday nights, there is a Top 25 countdown.  I thought it was done live.  Nope.  Completely recorded in advanced, edited and then played for 2 hours. 

For me, I was amazed because I have not been in a radio studio in a long time and it was a great treat.  Thank you WGEV for the college memories and experience, and thank you, WJTL for the tour and some new memories.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The other Big "C" for me

This post is not about Cancer.  No, this is about Cancer Prevention.  When men reach a certain age, usually at 50, it's time for a Colonoscopy.  I've heard horror stories about it.  That you have to drink gallons of bad tasting stuff. (not gallons)  That you cannot eat for days (well,a day).  That you can feel sick and nauseous.  It was basically nothing good. 

In May, I turned 50, and now it's my time.  Tomorrow is my outpatient surgery, and so tonight, I am up in our bedroom waiting it out.  I took half of the Suprep (what is is called), along with 16 oz of water within the first hour of taking the prep.  I take the 2nd half tomorrow morning at 5 am, with more water.  I need to be completely finished 4 hours before I report at 10 am.  Another day off work at least.

The prep was a 6 oz bottle, mixed with cold water to fill up a 16 oz container that comes with the kit.  I must have been thirsty, because I chugged it all down.  It is sort of grape flavored and pasty.  Well, about an hour later, it all started.  No need for further explanation.

My day at work was busy after a 4 day vacation, and I drank tea and Powerade.  All I wanted to do was eat something.  Anything.  I cannot eat until after the surgery tomorrow.   When I got home from work, my step-daughter told me she made pancakes because she thought it would be something I was not interested in.  I would be interested in anything, like the cardboard the pancake mix comes in.

I am thankful for my wife, who is picking up my daughter from work, so I can stay near the bathroom.  I am watching the Olympics and doing some bills.  The dog is with me, and the cat just left the room. 

I did not know what to expect.  So far, no nausea.  Not much appetite, although I can have broth, jello and more water.  Only yellow, orange, or green colored popsicles, jello, or liquids. 

Of course, I am looking for a good result after the outpatient surgery.  My wife is my driver and companion tomorrow and we will see what happens.  I can send out an update after this is all over.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Accept and Accepted

Hello everyone.  It has been a while since my last posting.  A lot has been going on here, including preparing for vacation, yard sales, and house projects.  Let's see how this post will turn out.

I have been involved with Celebrate Recovery as a Men's Small Group leader for that past 4 years. We meet weekly and have a large group worship (Music, lesson or testimony), and a small group share.  We close our large group with the Serenity Prayer.  Part of the prayer goes like this:

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.  The courage the change the things I can.  And the wisdom to know the difference."

So, what have I learned to accept in my life.  That is not an easy question, because at age 50, I am still discovering things about myself.  Once you realize that you can never escape yourself--that you are always with, well, you--it changes your perspective.

Here are some things I have come to accept.  Some of these things I cannot change.  Others, I will need courage and God's help to change.  Can I gain the wisdom to know the difference?  That is the question.

-I accept that I am an only child and grew up selfish.  That I never learned to interact with a brother or sister, so sharing was something that I did learn how to do very easily.

-I accept that my family of origin shaped me into who I am for better or worse.

-I accept that I am not easy to get along with.  That my behavior in the past has alienated me from developing close relationships.  And even though I would like to be included in activities with other married couples, I may be the one that affects that decision.

-I accept that God came into my life at age 17, and radically changed the trajectory of my life.  This influenced my decision to attend a Geneva College, and be active in the churches I have attended ever since.

-I accept that my shortcomings during my first marriage contributed to an eventual divorce.  There were many factors on both sides-however, I was able to persevere thanks to God's grace.

-I accept that I made mistakes as a father to my (2) children.  However, it is never to late to change them.  I also accept that I did many things right, and continue to develop and maintain a relationship with them.

-I accept that I am not working at where I want to be, but that God has me there for a reason and his timing is always perfect.  He is allowing me to provide for my household and blended family.

-I accept that I am far from a perfect husband.  I have many issues to work out, and will continue to do so.  Thank goodness for the Grace that God provides each day.

-And I accept that God is not finished with me yet.  That I am running a race that will not be completed until I leave this world when he calls me home.

Well, that was some list.  After all that, I often think "Can anyone accept me for who I am?"  Thank goodness I have an answer of YES.  And you do also.  That answer is God, through his son Jesus.  He accepts me for who I am, in spite of myself.  In fact, we loved me before I was even born.  He loved me so much that he died for me, and for you.  The neat thing is that God meets us where we are, in the condition we are in.  We don't have to change.  Our desire to change and be more like Him happens when we receive him in our life. 

It is am amazing feeling to know that God accepts me and does not stop that acceptance.  His Grace is poured out daily, and his love covers a multitude of sins.  If you have a down day, or feel like giving up, remember that God loves you and accepts you for who you are, and that will never change.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Thank you...

Hey everyone,

Just a short note to thank you--yes YOU--for reading and supporting this blog.  I wanted to express my appreciation, call a few people out, and thank everyone else.

Thank you to Rich Deruter, who commented on a post I did years ago.  You were my "God sighting," as it were, telling me to continue the Blog that I let go for a while.  You helped me decide to get back and write again.

Thank you to the Gravel Hill Church Community for your support over the years, especially over the last year during my wife's Chemo and Radiation.  She is on recovery road, but has a way to go  (The after effects can last for years)  Many of you have taught me patience, endurance, and have encouraged me to use my gifts to help others.

Thank you to my children and step-children for making sure I know there is more to life than just myself.  Growing up as an only child can keep you gaze inward.  You are helping me to look outward more and more.

Thank you to my friends, both virtual online, and in person.  I appreciate your encouragement and comments.  You keep me grounded.

And Thank you to my wife for her unwavering support.  I am not easy to live with, believe me.  While we admit, we are both a mess, we somehow fit together, using our separate talents to compliment our weak areas.  You have been an inspiration to others during your Cancer fight (which by the way everyone is in remission, and her latest mammogram was given an all clear!!!!)
You let me write about whatever I want, and still put up with me.  I love you.

There is a place on my Blog where you can choose to follow me.  I am currently working on adding Facebook and Twitter tags, and figuring out how you can subscribe to the blog so updates get sent directly to you.  This blog is hosted on, which is Google based and wants to build you follows off of Google+  (We all know how that turned out....does anyone use Google+?)

Anyway, look for more updates soon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I want to be a Clone....

When I was in college, Christian Musician Steve Taylor was one of premier artists of the time.  Known for his satire and wit in songs, he was sort of the Christian "Weird Al."

For (3) years, I had a radio show on campus with cohort, Brian Johnson.  Our show was called "THE MEN," and ran from 9 pm to Midnight every Thursday.  In between our banter, skits, sound effects, and other related tom-foolery (Remember the "Shave Alert" John Bell?), we managed to actually play some music.

One of our favorite songs was "I Want to Be a Clone," by Steve Taylor.  Somehow this song was always dedicated to Jim Langan.  It was back in college, I don't remember why anymore...

Anyway, the song is about church conformity and the rules in the way to worship.  Here is a sampler:

I Want To Be A Clone.
I asked the Lord into my heart.
They said that that's the way to start,
But now you've got to play the part.
I Want To Be A Clone.
Be a clone and kiss conviction goodnight.
Cloneliness is next to godliness - right!
I'm grateful that they showed the way
'Cause I could never know the way
To serve him on my own -
I Want To Be A Clone.

At the time, I enjoyed the melody and the lyrics. And I understood that to be a clone was to copy others.  I never thought about what it would be like to really be cloned until later on.  There was a movie called "Multiplicity," with Michael Keaton.  In the movie, our protagonist is an overworked construction foremen, who through a project, with the Gemini Institute, agrees to be cloned.  Think of the possibilities?  All his problems would be solved.  What could possibly go wrong?  (a whole lot it turns out)

"You can't be in two places at once" have heard that saying.  I have wondered,  "Well, what if you could be?"    Cue the dream sequence...For starters, I could be at work, but getting things done at home.  I could be on vacation, and another clone be at work. Clones would clean the house.  Get groceries and run errands. Heck, I would probably retire, and let the other clones do all the work.  But would the clone that works want the money they earn rather than give it to me?    Hmmm....dream sequence over.

Then I thought about the memories and emotions we experience.  Would my clones feel the same way I do?  Would their personalities be different.  Would my wife know the difference?  For example, if the real me is on a roller coaster, I would experience all the emotions while riding. But if my clone is riding it, would they experience the same thing?  I would not be able to experience the same thing.  I would be watching my clone. Hmmm.  I don't think I would like that.  Then on the other extreme, if I could feel everything the clones did, I would go crazy processing all the emotions and feelings going on all the time.  It would drive the real me, and the clones crazy.  Or make me feel like Professor X does.

I think we all sometimes wish we could clone ourselves, and let them do all the things that we don't want to do.    That got me thinking deeper that while we cannot clone ourselves, we often copy others.  This can be both good and bad.  On the good side, an athlete can try to copy the successful moves of others in order to better their skills.  We can copy a recipe to try and replicate it at home.  Or, we can copy the attitudes of others who have positive things to say and do.  On the negative side, we can try to live and be like "The Joneses."  To want and live like they do, even if we cannot afford it.  Or we can copy a bad habit or wrong way of thinking that we inherited from our parents or others. 

Do you realize that you can never escape yourself?  No matter where you do, there you are.  You can never get away from yourself from the time you are born until the day you die.  You and I, we are originals, made by the Creator of the Universe.  We are not a copy and not a clone.  There is no one like us and there never will be.  That is exciting and sometimes a little scary.

I know that I am unique and creative.  One of a kind.  However, if I were so copy someone, to want to be like someone, who would it be?

Well, turning to the Bible in Ephesians 5, we read:  "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved [a]you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God [b]as a fragrant aroma."

When we receive Christ in our lives, and turn our lives and will over to the care of God, we begin to be more like Jesus.  And imitating Jesus--to be more like him, well that is a good thing.  To be an imitator of God is a good goal.  A life-long process.  That's something I would like to copy.  

So, I guess I am glad after all that I am not a clone.  I drive enough people crazy just as I am.  Can you imagine 2 or 3 more of me?  Scary.....

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Happy Birthday Mukamwiza!

In the fall of 2013, My wife, Shari Schappell and I went to see one of her favorite Christian artists perform before his retirement.  (Bebo Norman at WJTL in Lancaster)

The concert was sponsored by Compassion International, a wonderful organization that connects families with a child in need from places like Africa, the Middle East, Far East, and here in America.  During a break, we felt led to visit the tables, and we agreed to sponsor a child.  (I had sponsored a child before, and so had Shari)  We were working on a blended family, and decided to add to that.

The tables were filled with dozens of information packets, showing the photo of a child in need of sponsorship, with information about location, family, and # months on a waiting list. The child we chose was from Rwanda, a war-torn country in Africa. Her name was Mukamwiza Appoline, and her birthday was in July. You can sign up there and register online. Your sponsorship starts right away, and for us, have it taken from our account monthly.

You communicate by writing letters. You can do this online or by mail. We write about our kids and what is going on in our lives. We ask about her and her family. We ask about school. We encourage her. And we tell her that she is loved and that God loves her and her family. I know that we don't always pray for her like we should, and we need to write more often.  We do get caught up in our own lives here, that we can forget she is over there. When we receive her letters of encouragement, it helps us.
They have so little compared to what we have, but she always sounds happy. Someone we have never met tells they love us and pray for us. That humbles us.

Compassion provides her with clothes, an education, meals and clean water.  This helps her family as well.   I recently received an email from Compassion that read in part, "We're excited to share an updated photo of Mukamwiza! Isn't it amazing how much a child can grow and change? And thanks to your support it's not just physical growth. Because of your sponsorship, Mukamwiza is growing spiritually and emotionally too!"

She lives in a hillside community, home to around 3,000 residents. Mukamwiza attends the Bigogwe Student Center in Rwanda. Her current schooling grade is 7 (equivalent to ours). She carries water and gathers firewood for her family. Her parents are farmers for income, and they earn around $30/month.
She just turned 15 yesterday on July 18th, so this is a Happy Birthday to her, aside from the gift we sent her.
If you are interested in learning more, visit Maybe you will add to your family also.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I can sing a Rainbow

In some ways, TV was simpler when I was growing up.  There were fewer channels, for starters.  Saturday morning cartoons.  No reality shows, educational shows, and more comedies. 

If you lived in my area growing up, you may remember watching "Captain Noah and His Magical Ark," a syndicated children's TV show that ran from 1967 to 1994.  It originally aired around the Philadelphia area on WPVI Channel 6.  Captain Noah and His Magical Ark was created by W. Carter Merbreier, an ordained Lutheran minister an former Philadelphia Police Chaplain.  The show originally aired as a religious program before switching to a children's program in 1970. 

At it's height, the show was syndicated to 22 TV markets throughout the United States.  In my area, it attracted a larger audience than Sesame Street and Captain Kangaroo combined.  It ran on weekdays from 7 to 9 am and on Sunday morning. 

What I remember were the local guests, songs, puppets.  (His wife, Patricia, was Mr.s Noah on the show and a puppeteer.), and the organ music from local favorite Larry Ferrari.  We were taught simple things from the Captain, like respect for others, listening to your parents, (things similar to Mr. Rogers)  There were two other things I really liked, and they were both songs. 

The one song sent like this:  "Send your pictures to dear old Captain Noah.  Send today.  Send right away.  Send your pictures to dear old Captain Noah.  Send away.  Send today."
Kids would send in their hand drawn pictures and the camera would pan across the pictures.  Captain Noah would point some out, "Look at this picture of a cat from Suzie..."  I admit, I never sent a picture in, but I thought about it.

The other song was one he closed with.  It was the Rainbow Song.

Red and Yellow and Pink and Green.  Purple and Orange and Blue.
I can sing a rainbow.  Sing a rainbow.  Sing a rainbow too.
Listen with your eyes, listen with your ears, and sing everything you see
Now I can sing a rainbow.  Sing a Rainbow.  Sing along with me.

That song pops back into my head when I see a rainbow after a storm.  Now, the colors are not the same, but it has a deeper meaning.

Let's go way back.  Way back after a really big storm.  A 40 day and night storm.  Back to Genesis 9, Verse 8-17, and God's Covenant with Noah.

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

So, when I see a rainbow, I am reminded of the Covenant and the Promise from God.  I am reminded of a simpler time when Captain Noah would sing about a rainbow, and everything felt alright.

Life is rough today and our Country needs one large rainbow from coast to coast.  Something to remind us that Black lives, White lives, Yellow lives, Brown lives, Gay lives, Straight lives, young, old, homeless, rich and poor.  ALL lives matter.  For God created all of us.  And he loves all of us.

I hope that when you see a Rainbow, you see a promise.  A promise that God made with us, and a hope that we learn to love more and hate less.