“The Pearl of Gospel Music”
The Myriad Gospel Music Countdown is the one and only weekly re-cap of the hottest gospel songs in America. The Countdown is hosted by radio veterans Brigette Cannon Scott, Bob Dickerson and Ron Marshall and engineered by Doug Ford.
Today, the Countdown has a national reach and is heard on more than 30 radio stations in cities such as Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Birmingham, and Fort Lauderdale. The Countdown has been inspiring audiences for the past twenty years, and counting!
What started as an idea among two friends in Birmingham, Alabama has fast become a music ministry that’s sweeping the nation. The “Myriad Gospel Music Countdown” showcases the country’s best Gospel hits in a well-blended mix of contemporary and traditional tunes. Thousands of listeners – from all corners of the world – tune in week after week. Listeners know when the show has begun when they hear the angelic harmony of singing group “Peace Of Truth” chime out: “Joyful Sounds From All Around…This Is The Gospel Countdown!”
After that familiar show theme plays, show hosts Ron Marshall, Brigette Cannon Scott and Bob Dickerson reveal their picks for the most popular Gospel hits of the week. The show features hand-picked songs from legendary as well as young and upcoming artists.
Besides music, the Myriad gang also shares inspirational and informative nuggets. Behind the scenes, engineer Doug Ford mixes it all, giving it a professional sound that has listeners guessing if the show is being broadcast from New York, LA or Chicago-- anywhere but Birmingham, Alabama!
“I would have never guessed this show was Birmingham-born,” says longtime fan Angela Jones, a Birmingham resident. “It’s so well done.” Few know that the Myriad Gospel Music Countdown is the only nationally syndicated radio countdown show broadcast from the Magic City. That doesn’t stop the hosts from giving several shout-outs to their home town.
In 1994 Dickerson and longtime friend Marshall talked about creating something that would combine their love of Gospel music and Marshall’s radio experience for a project that would have national appeal. They did some research and discovered that at that time, there was not a gospel countdown radio show in the country. They invited another friend, Doug Ford, who owns a recording studio to join them and recruited DeDe Womack who provided the sole female voice. “We prayed about it and God blessed us,” Dickerson says. Womack’s contribution to the countdown was invaluable, but she left the team to pursue other career opportunities, and was replaced with Brigette.
The first show aired on Valentine’s Day 1996 on WAYE radio in Birmingham. It was received with rave reviews. Soon after, another Birmingham radio station came on board and requests for others began to flood in from program directors throughout Alabama and across the country. Once the show began to cross Alabama state lines its reach became far stretching into cities and on radio stations, such as WHLD Radio in Buffalo, New York; WDDO in Macon, GA; KLLB in Holladay, UT, WHJX in Jacksonville, FL and the list goes on. And today, just about anywhere you go, folks all around are singing Myriad’s praises.
Message in the Music
Pretty soon the Myriad hosts began to see that this “countdown show” was much more than the music, but a ministry. The encouraging words hosts give listeners each week is providing much needed inspiration.
“The best thing is when I walk down the street and someone will say, ‘I heard you on the radio and that did something for me,’” Dickerson says. The ministry aspect confirmed he and Marshall’s choice to focus on Gospel music, as opposed to the more popular secular music, was right on target.
“Sometimes music influences behaviors and there was enough (music) influencing people to party, drink and have sex,” Dickerson says. “We needed to influence people to be God-like and focus on the afterlife and their souls. We have a different story to tell.”
For that reason Dickerson and the others have willingly used their own money to keep the show going. “If we would have been in it for the money we wouldn’t have done it,” he says. “It has been a radio ministry as opposed to a business venture.”
Behind the Scenes
Preparation for the show begins early in the week. The group consults play lists, trade magazines and reviews Billboard charts to see what artists and albums are in demand. They make their picks and on Tuesdays they whittle the list of songs down to the most popular. Next, they create the line-up and record the show. As soon as their voices hit the microphones they work to give their listeners a show that will uplift spirits and inspire.
“It’s got to make you feel good, not bad,” Dickerson says. “I hope listeners get a blessing, become closer to God and develop a better enjoyment of Gospel music.”
The Myriad Countdown has plans for the future including getting into more major radio markets, and to keep bringing their listeners the best in gospel music.
“It’s more than accolades,” Dickerson says. “It’s a program that is touching other people’s lives.”
Here’s what Assistant Program Director John Long had to say:
“The Countdown has been a great addition to the Hallelujah brands I oversee for iHeartMedia. It’s a fun, one-of-a-kind program with great personalities. The show is consistently ranked #1 in Montgomery and had a significant ratings boost in Birmingham in their first ratings period. It’s a well-produced countdown that can fit any Gospel or Urban station, and even some Mainstream Urbans.” The show is delivered in a lively and entertaining way.