“David Fewster: Sending a Clear Signal,” Ensign, Dec. 1987, 58–59
When Viking Radio began broadcasting in Humberside, England, in March 1984, the first voice broadcast was that of David Fewster, high councilor in the Hull England Stake.
Today, David is morning-time host as well as director of programming. Though more and more Church members are beginning to appear in various areas of British public life, David is still the only full-time LDS radio broadcaster in Britain. He says, “I consider this a privilege and an honor to represent, in a sense, Latter-day Saints in the media.”
When his mother’s sister died from asthma at age twenty-two, David and his family searched for the answers to some of life’s hard questions. They invited the local full-time missionaries, Elders Berrett and Godfrey, into their home to teach the gospel to David, then ten years old, and his father. Both were baptized, and David’s mother, already a member, returned to Church activity.
“It has been one of my biggest frustrations that I can’t personally thank those missionaries. We lost touch, and I have no idea where they are,” he laments.
As a new member of the Church, David lost no time in becoming involved. He was one of the first in Britain to take home-study seminary. Mutual played its part, too. “I received all four of the Liahona Awards,” he recalls. “It was the highlight of my life.”
Another highlight occurred when he married Kathleen Fountain, whose family lived in the Hull area. David and Kathleen had been invited to be best man and bridesmaid at the wedding of their best friends. They met at a pre-wedding meeting. Soon they had decided to follow their friends into marriage. “There was something very special about Kathleen, right from the outset,” David comments. “When my mother asked me if I planned to see her again, I immediately replied, ‘Yes, she’s going to be my wife.’”
Now members of the Beverley Branch, in the Hull stake, David and Kathleen have four daughters—Louise, twelve; Helen, nine; Sarah, six, and Rebecca, three. David, an only child, quips, “Living in a household of females has really been an education. It’s good that I get up at 5:30 A.M., otherwise I’d never stand a chance of getting into the bathroom!”
David’s interest in radio began the summer he was fourteen, when he and friend Timothy Lindop built a “radio station” in Timothy’s bedroom, transmitting to a speaker in the Lindop kitchen. The boys broadcast all day long during the summer holidays, interspersing chat with music. “Mrs. Lindop was really a good sport,” David remembers. “We had only one hour-long tape of music, and we played it over and over again.”
His introduction to radio work as a profession came when, as a hospital volunteer, he broadcast a daily live program for the radio station at the Warrington General Hospital in Cheshire. This assignment covered twelve years.
The next step was free-lance work for Red Rose, a Preston-based station. “I had invited their program manager onto my hospital show and, on the air, he invited me to apply for a job with his station,” David remembers. He began work with Red Rose in 1982, then moved to full-time work in Wrexham with Marcher Sound in 1983. When Viking began broadcasting in 1984, David returned to his home town of Hull for this new assignment.
David has developed such a following of faithful listeners that when he had a leg injury and was confined to bed at home, the station was flooded with calls asking why he wasn’t broadcasting. So Viking hooked up a broadcast-quality line to David’s home so that he could continue his programming.
“My Church membership is well known at the station,” David says, “and I frequently get into very positive discussions about the Church with staff members.” Some think it strange that someone with high ideals and standards can work within the “pop music” world. In reply, David just shrugs his shoulders and suggests that perhaps pop music audiences need that influence as much as any.
From time to time, David’s work has placed him in some unusual situations. He occasionally produces documentaries for Viking Radio, and recently he broadcast interviews with convicted criminals from within a maximum security prison. Earlier he produced a series entitled “A Day in the Life,” detailing various occupations, which found him perched precariously over the North Sea in a helicopter with an air-sea rescue unit. Another time, to help demonstrate rescue techniques, he agreed to be “rescued” from a house after the fire brigade set it afire. “At least I got a certificate out of it,” he recalls. “They said that the fire reached 500 degrees. I couldn’t get rid of the burning smell for weeks.”
In addition to his service on the Hull stake high council, David is the public communications director for the north of England. In this assignment, his knowledge of the media is put to good use, helping in the important task of bringing the Church “out of obscurity and out of darkness.” (D&C 1:30.)
David sees the media as an essential tool for spreading the gospel. “The most limiting factor in missionary work,” he says, “is the current public perception that Latter-day Saints aren’t Christians. We can best change that misconception through effective use of the media—and that’s my intent!”
He helped to do just that last Christmas when he produced and narrated an hour-long Mormon Tabernacle Choir “special” to a prospective audience of some 30 million. “In the program it was made very clear that Latter-day Saints are Christians,” David explains.
Then he concludes, “The Church means everything to me. It has brought our family closer together, helped me find a companion for the eternities, and has been an all-important anchor in my job. In the future I want to give to others what I have gained—a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.”