Church’s Public Affairs Projects Promote Values

“Church’s Public Affairs Projects Promote Values,” Ensign, Dec. 1997, 70–71

Church’s Public Affairs Projects Promote Values

“I started watching your show last Sunday and was really surprised that you talked about God. Most shows never talk about him, and I think that talking about God is what makes your show so unique for me. I also think your show is great because you talk about real-life problems and solutions” (letter from Aviano, Italy).

“I’m from Virginia and am a young Christian. A lot of my friends aren’t Christian, and it’s really hard for me to witness to them sometimes. … Through the Lord I have strength—I know that. But I’d like to see what other teens go through and how they cope with the pressures from their friends. Thanks for what you’re doing” (letter from Virginia).

Whether broadcast on radio or television, programs produced by the Church Public Affairs Department are being received with gratitude and appreciation by listeners and viewers and are respected as quality values-based offerings by programmers.

“People are bombarded with negative messages in society,” explained Arnold Augustin, director of media relations in the department. “There are so many negative aspects affecting the family and individuals, and many of those, unfortunately, negative things are available through the media. The Church continues to offer values-based programming that focuses on positive aspects of our lives, our communities, and our society.

Brother Augustin quoted President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who said, “I have long believed that the study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than talking about behavior will improve behavior” (“Washed Clean,” Ensign, May 1997, 9). Brother Augustin added, “That’s what we do, try to take a gospel principle and teach it through a program or spot.”

In the past, the Church has produced two public-affairs television series, Center Street and Family Times, which focus on contemporary topics, and a variety of public-affairs radio programming.

Center Street showcases today’s teenagers who are searching to find themselves in a complex world,” said Bruce Olsen, managing director of the department. The show helps teenagers realize that they’re not alone and that they can make wise choices and responsible decisions, he said. The series has finished production, and 75 shows are available for broadcasting.

“To date, Center Street is on 76 stations in the U.S., in addition to the Odyssey cable channel,” said Brother Augustin. “That’s an estimated potential viewing audience of more than 18 million. It’s also broadcast on the Armed Forces Television Service, which has another two million viewers. Family Times, which is still relatively new, is broadcast on 23 stations, but that number is growing steadily.”

Family Times offers simple, practical tips on a wide variety of daily family challenges such as family communications, finances, and unity, explained William S. Evans, assistant executive producer of the series. “At Family Times we know life’s challenges never go away. We want to be part of the solution, not the problem,” he said.

The Church’s radio spots offer values-based messages, many of them targeting teens and spreading antitobacco and antialcohol messages.

“Through the years the Church’s programs have won a variety of awards and honors,” Brother Augustin observed. “The Church has always made gospel-centered principles and the quality of the production the priorities in these projects.”

The Church’s media projects are produced by the Church Public Affairs Department as well as the Church Missionary Department. Missionary Department spots are direct gospel messages and Home Front spots, Brother Augustin explained, while the Public Affairs Department spots are oriented toward public affairs or contemporary issues.

“We focus on positive values that are shared by people everywhere,” he said. “And we apply those values to real-life situations and try to provide realistic, gospel-based solutions.”

Center Street, a Church-produced program aimed at teens, features hosts Carl Sokia, back left, Abe Mills, Boni Newell, Ben Ellis, front center, and Ivey Lloyd.