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Pepperdine Quote

Randy Harris’ definition of a saint: “Someone whose life hasn’t been sufficiently researched.”

God Bless Roger Emrich

I remember the very first day I met Roger Emrich. It was the spring of 2001. I had been hired as a sports reporter/anchor at KRLD by General Manager Tyler Cox. Ashley Ernisie, the Sports Director, was walking me around the Ballpark studios. We turned a corner from the newsroom, walked right into the group of sports cubicles, and there he was. Bigger than life. Tall and broad and a little too round. Huge smile. And that incredibly beautiful and booming baritone voice that I had been listening to for over a decade.

“Roger Emrich! Just call me Raj Mahal, the Human Palace of Sports Exuberance!”

We casually throw around the term “radio voice” way too much. If there were ever the true model for what it really means and really sounds like, Roger had it: the “radio voice.” My goodness. He defines it.

My first paid radio job out of college was at tiny little KGRO-KOMX in Pampa, Texas in the fall of 1989. I was spinning Contemporary Hit records in the mornings and calling Panhandle Panthers football and Pampa Harvesters basketball games at night. We were a Texas State Network radio station which meant that we aired TSN newscasts at the top of every hour and had access to their sports reports and other special programming. That’s when I first heard Roger’s amazing voice. He was the Austin bureau chief for TSN, covering the Texas Legislature and politics for the statewide network. Every single day there were two or three Emrich stories in our newscasts and he would end every one with that voice: “Roger Emrich, TSN News!”

When I became the News and Sports Director at KHLB AM/FM in Marble Falls in 1991, we were also a TSN station and Roger’s voice filled up our airwaves. Roger’s voice, like all the TSN voices, was heard on hundreds of stations in every single county in the Lone Star State. But his voice stuck out. Goodness gracious, that voice. He moved to the sports side in 1993 and I carried his Cowboys updates and his Rangers post-game reports and his Southwest Conference and Big 12 Conference football previews for our listeners in Burnet and Llano Counties. He seemed to be at every game and every practice for every college and professional sports team in the state. I listened to and envied Roger’s voice for a dozen years.

And then, by the grace of God, I wound up walking right into Roger’s cubicle at the KRLD/TSN studios at the Ballpark in Arlington as a co-worker, a colleague at a heritage radio station in my hometown of Dallas.

And now I know first-hand what everybody who’s ever worked with Roger knows: that full and booming voice could only come from a heart as big and full as his.

One of the great blessings of my mediocre radio career was working every day and a lot of nights with the Raj Mahal. It was a little less than four years, but he made every day such a tremendous joy. Professional, hard-working, detailed, warm, and really funny. Roger’s whole world revolved around great food, classic rock, his family, and Dallas sports. And for almost four years he included me in all of it.

He embraced me immediately as a co-worker, just like he did everybody. When I ran a little long on a sportscast or a TSN update, he’d holler at me, “Tighten it up, King!” He called everybody “King.” I have no idea why. In my second year at KRLD we went digital and had to learn together how to transition from cassette tapes and carts to computer editing. The name brand for our digital editing system was Burli and that word soon became a verb for us in the sports department. I can still hear Roger saying, “I’m going to Valley Ranch for Campo’s press conference and I’ll Burli it up from there.” We did the TSN Friday Night Football Show together for a couple of years — I knew all the Central Texas schools and coaches from my time in the Hill Country and Roger knew all the rest. When the Astros were in town to play the Rangers or the Rockets or Spurs were in Dallas to play the Mavericks and we needed both locker rooms covered for TSN, Roger always volunteered for the extra duty.

Roger would call me over Christmas break or summer vacation when he was driving back to Dallas from his hometown of New Orleans. It would break up the monotony for him, help keep him awake for those 45-minutes or so. He’d tell me about his family, about all the great food he ate, and he’d describe to me over the phone what he was eating right then as he was driving. He’d hear something on the radio and we’d have to talk about that band for five minutes and where we had seen them in concert and how great they were before we could get back on subject.

We also talked about our faith in Christ. Roger is a Christian. He’s a devout, godly, praying man of faith. And he made no secret about it. When I left the radio biz for congregational ministry in 2005, Roger was one of the few guys — maybe the only guy — in the industry who understood and encouraged me.

Since then, we’ve tried to stay in touch. As I went from seminary to the Legacy Church of Christ in the mid-cities, we’d exchange emails and texts maybe every month or two and a phone call a couple of times a year. When something big happened in Dallas sports, we’d talk. When Roger was named the PA announcer for Dallas Cowboys home games at AT&T Stadium in 2011, I called to congratulate him. When his wife died four years ago I called him and we prayed together over the phone. That same year — three or four years ago — Roger helped me get an internship at KRLD for a college student we’d had in the youth ministry at Legacy. And I think that was the last time I talked to Roger on the phone.

I would text him once or twice during each football season for the past few years. Every now and then I’d catch his booming voice coming through my TV while I was watching a Cowboys game. The crowd would be quiet or the mics would be placed just right or Roger would be extra exuberant and his PA would burst into my living room loud and clear: “First down, Cowboys!” I loved hearing him from AT&T Stadium because I knew how much he loved being there. It was his dream job. I’d text him that night and tell him how thrilled I am to hear his voice and recall our good times together at KRLD. He always responded with a heart-felt thanks, he’d ask about Carrie-Anne and the girls and the church, and then we’d tell each other, “Tighten it up, King!”

I was shocked and saddened to learn yesterday that Roger died Saturday after a series of heart attacks last week. He was 62. His son, Ted, a sportscaster for the Westwood One and ESPN Radio Networks, made the announcement yesterday.

Roger struggled with his health when we were together at KRLD. He ate too much, he weighed too much, he had diabetes, he had issues with his feet, and his whole body was under a lot of stress. But over the past few years, he had gotten all of that under control. He had dropped a ton of weight, he was eating right, and, the last time we talked, he was feeling really good. I had no idea he was in any kind of trouble at all. I didn’t know he had had a heart attack last week.

When he and I called those triple-header “Zero Week” high school football games in the Alamodome for TSN, the kickoff classic for Texas high school football, he brought his son, Ted (he was Teddy back then), along to be our spotter and statistician. Roger did play-by-play for the first and third games while I did color, and we switched roles for the middle game. And I remember how perfectly awesome Ted was. He’s a 16-17 year old high school kid, but his knack for knowing where the ball was going, who was going to be where, and what stat we would need in our ears at exactly the right moment was uncanny. He was the most wonderful spotter I ever had for any game I ever did. I also remember how close Roger and Ted were. It was obvious on those trips. In the press box, on the field, at the restaurant — that father and son duo was tight. God bless Ted and his family.

Roger Emrich was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2015. His voice, known and loved throughout all of Texas for more than thirty years, ranks right up there in the same class as that of Brad Sham and Craig Way. I’m proud I know the Raj Mahal. I’m honored to be among those who worked with The Human Palace of Sports Exuberance. His absence leaves a massive void in Dallas. His friendship holds a permanent spot among the many joys and blessings of my life for which I am eternally grateful to God.

Peace,

Allan

The Primary Command

Few things are as thrilling in sports as a tied NHL Stanley Cup playoff game in the third period.  Only overtime. And the Stars outlasted the Predators Monday night in an edge-of-your-seat overtime slugfest to advance to the second round. My heart has just now this morning returned to its normal rhythms. Overtime in an NHL playoff game is the only true “sudden death” in sports. And it’s incredible.

One of the great things about a Stars game on TV is the running color commentary provided by Daryl “Razor” Reaugh. Every 90-seconds or so during every single game, Razor says something that makes me giggle. The guy’s a genius. Monday night he referred to the Stars’ six-foot-seven goalie Ben Bishop as the “net-minding mastadon.” After a wild flurry of saves late in the second period, Razor called Bishop a “brilliant rubber regurgitator.” He described a save by Nashville’s goaltender as “a sassy glove grab.” When the game was over and the American Airlines Center crowd was celebrating the series win, Razor reminded all the TV viewers back home that “the singular of confetti is confetto.”

Their second round series against the Blues begins in St. Louis tomorrow night.

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The world expects Christians to show love. That’s why people rip into the Church and rail against us when we don’t show love. That’s why they criticize us.

People don’t cuss at the beach because it’s sandy; it’s supposed to be sandy. We don’t complain when rain is wet; it’s supposed to be wet. we don’t gripe when the wind blows in Amarillo; it’s supposed to blow. That’s what we expect. And the world expects followers of Jesus to love. So, they rightfully call us out when we don’t.

(Sometimes we gripe when the wind blows in Amarillo. Let’s be honest.)

Scripture tells us plainly that, for children of God and disciples of Christ, the primary command is to love. From the Old Testament law and prophets to Jesus and his apostles, loving other people is the primary response and the natural reflection of God’s love that’s been so undeservedly showered on us

According to the Bible, if you’re not a loving person, you don’t know God. If you’re not showing love to others, you haven’t truly received God’s love for yourself.

Nobody in the world will listen to you talk about God if they experience you as an unloving person. You’ve got no credibility. It’s obvious you don’t know who you’re talking about. At Texas Dodge, they don’t let their salespeople drive Fords or Chevys. The president of PETA doesn’t run the membership drive for the NRA. And you’re not going to influence anybody for Christ if you’re not a loving person. You’ll push people away.

The Church is fractured and our witness to the world is compromised because we keep getting this one thing out of order. Instead of loving first, we judge first. We condemn first. We yell first. We whine and complain first. We forward the email first. We insult first, and then love comes somewhere after that. It’s out of order.

We put socioeconomic boundaries first. We put racial differences first. We prioritize parties, platforms, and politicians. We make denominational distinctions primary. We figure out our theology, doctrine, and church structures first, then decide later where, when, and how to show love.

Yes, there are difficult passages in the Bible that must be figured out and there are parts of Scripture about which followers of Jesus can legitimately disagree. But the command to love as the most important command and the one that trumps all the other commands is not one of them.

The apostle Paul tells us that a Christian who doesn’t love is like “a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” Eugene Peterson’s Message translates it “the creaking of a rusty gate.” Someone else might say “fingernails on a chalkboard.” In other words, a Christian or a church like that is irritating. It gets on people’s nerves. It’s outwardly obnoxious.

If love doesn’t come first, if love is not the origin and the energy behind and through what you’re doing, it’s not good. A Christian or a church that prioritizes love over everything else fills the world with the hope and healing and joy of our Lord. Without love, a Christian or a church is a tree that bears no fruit, a cloud that produces no rain. Obnoxious.

This is a critical time in the Church. Theologians, historians, and sociologists have been telling us for four decades that we are going through the greatest transition in the last 500 years of Church history. And what you do matters. It matters to you and your family, it matters to your friends and your city, it matters to this country and to the whole world.

Anger is acceptable now in our culture, but that’s not who you are. Discord and division are society’s tools, but not yours. The culture encourages you to look out for yourself first, but that’s not proper for Christians. Asserting myself, my rights, and my personality is not my priority as a follower of Jesus. We don’t go along with the world on this. We don’t say, “Well, that’s just the way things are.” To somehow justify not loving other people, no matter the reason, is to squash our creativity and insult God’s grace and ignore the command of Jesus.

No person in the world who runs into a Christian should ever have to wonder if that Christian is a safe person who will love them. No server at a restaurant, no teller at a bank, no classmate at your school, no neighbor on your street, and no member of your church should ever spend one minute wondering if love has disappeared from the earth. People who run into you, people who experience you, should believe in love.

Peace,

Allan

Dirk Owns Dallas

The Big German owns Big D.

Dirk Nowitzki took out a full page ad in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News to say “Thank You” to Mavericks fans and to the city after 21 Hall of Fame years in Dallas. It’s a rare kind of letter from a professional superstar athlete of Dirk’s caliber. Humble. Grateful. Selfless. Sincere.  Reflective. Kind. Two DMN sportswriters have confirmed that Dirk worked on this letter for a couple of weeks; these are all his words; it’s not ghost-written. And you can tell it’s from his heart.

Dirk could run for mayor of Dallas and win it today. When it comes to Dallas sports, he’s in an exclusive club with Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. Staubach, of course, is in a class all by himself. He spent his entire career with the Cowboys, he won two Super Bowls in Dallas, he was a model citizen and team player, and he made his permanent home in Dallas when he retired. For the past 39 years and for the next 39 years, Staubach could run for Governor of Texas or the U.S. Senate and win it immediately. He’s that beloved in Dallas and throughout the state. Aikman also spent his entire career with the Cowboys , he won three Super Bowls, he was a model citizen and team player, and he also made his permanent home in Dallas when he retired. For some reason — somebody help me articulate this — it doesn’t feel like Aikman’s in the exact same category as Staubach. But he’s close. Right there with Dirk.

Mike Modano’s not in that class. He won a Stanley Cup as the face of the franchise with the Stars in 1999. Model citizen and team player, advocate for the sport and the city, but he finished his career in Detroit. And it’s hockey.

The very nature of baseball means nobody’s going to play their entire career with the Rangers. Plus, the Rangers have never won a championship. Nolan Ryan could be governor of Texas whenever he wants, but he doesn’t own Dallas. Jim Sundberg and Pudge Rodriguez could make the Dallas city council, but they don’t own the city. Besides, they played all their home games in Tarrant County.

Am I missing somebody? I think it’s Staubach, Aikman, Dirk. In that order. Does anybody else in Dallas sports belong in that group?

Peace,

Allan

Easter Blessing

The Day of Resurrection has dawned upon us, the day of true light and life, wherein Christ, the life of believers, rose from the dead. Let us give abundant thanks and praise to God, that while we solemnly celebrate the day of our Lord’s resurrection, he may be pleased to bestow on us quiet peace and special gladness; so that being protected from morning to night by his favoring mercy, we may rejoice in the gift of our Redeemer. Amen.

~ Mozarabic Sacramentary

Maundy Thursday Prayer

The “4 Amarillo” churches are meeting at First Presbyterian in downtown Amarillo this evening for our annual Maundy Thursday service. I am honored to read from Psalm 41 during the service and to lead the congregation in prayer. This is the prayer I will lift up to God tonight with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Holy Father, we are reminded tonight by your Word we hear and the meal we share that your servant, our Lord Jesus, came to this earth not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life for the whole world.

Father, we pray together tonight for your people at First Baptist, at Polk Street Methodist, at First Presbyterian, and at Central Church of Christ. Would you bless our four churches with a continued spirit of unity and fellowship that honors you and points others to our Lord Jesus.

We pray together tonight for this city of Amarillo. Would you bless our city with increased cooperation and good will that brings healing and hope and joy to our neighbors.

We pray together tonight for this country. Would you bless this nation, God, with your mercy and justice to bring comfort and equality instead of oppression and inequity to our fellow man.

And we pray together tonight for every man, woman, and child created by you, in your image, and placed by you on this earth. We pray, holy God, for the whole world. Would you bless us with your peace and harmony, with your eternal life and matchless love. May every knee bow and every tongue confess, sooner rather than later, that your Son is Lord to your eternal glory and praise.

Amen.

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