Friday, 23 August 2019

C Columns

From radio to festivals: David Ferdinand makes his mark

By  Gaye  Bunderson

 

David Ferdinand speaks fondly of the Nampa community where he's spent so much of his life; and for all it's given him, he's given back to it. He's been a county commissioner, president of the God & Country Festival, and a well-known radio personality. 

“I was born and raised here; I was born at Mercy when it was on 6th Street,” said David, now age 70. He grew up and attended Nampa High School, where he met his wife Peggy when they took a drama class and performed together. His roots are deep here and his family history long. 

“My grandma, Berta, was a pastor's wife; and in 1946, at age 59, she wanted to become a nurse. She became an OB nurse,” he said. His grandmother carried him in her arms as a newborn and placed him with his mother. His grandmother was also a music minister in church, and his grandfather, M.E. Ferdinand, served as the first pastor at Nampa's First Church of the Nazarene. “What an incredible time to grow up,” David said. “In 1950, we moved to a farm on Scism Road.” 

David has been a longtime broadcaster in this area and began a radio career at age 19 at KFXD in Nampa as news director. One of the first things he did was publicize information over the air about upcoming performances of Nampa High School students' plays. After graduating high school, he attended then-Boise Junior College, later to become Boise State College in 1969. He worked at KBSC Radio when it was located in the Student Union Building ballroom. (It is now KBSU.) 

Blessed with his grandmother's love of music, he played, sang and wrote songs as a youth, performing with The Brew Masters Band in 1965 at age 15; later, he moved into country gospel and performed with The King's Witnesses starting in 1976. “We were traveling all over,” he said. 

Traveling all over was also part of his life as a young married man. David and Peggy moved around the country considerably in pursuit of career opportunities, including a time in Spokane, where David worked in radio and TV. When he talks about his faith, there are mentions of other cities in other places. 

“When I was working in New Jersey, the Lord pointed out to me that I didn't even have a Bible. Soon after that, my mother-in-law sent me a package, and right at the very top of it was a Bible,” said David. “Then, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, God really started to get hold of me.” 

Career and faith came together in Boise, among other places, when he hosted the Sunday Morning Coming Down Gospel Show — featuring country gospel — at KIDO. In the early 1980s, with his traveling musical group, he'd go into nursing homes and assisted living facilities and sing to the people. 

“I love my older generation,” he said, a sentiment that likely stems from his affinity for his grandmother, whom he calls a saint. “There was holiness in Grandma's songs.” 

He picked up that same sense of holiness in music. “When I was ministering in the gospel group, I was given the opportunity to share my love of Christ with others and of living out my life as a believer,” he said. 

David's been preaching a Sunday sermon and singing for about 4 years at Sunny Ridge Care Rehabilitation and Retirement Center in Nampa, an assisted living facility. He talked about how some of the residents suffer from Alzheimer's but music stirs a warm memory in them. 

“When you sing an old gospel song, it really gets to them. It takes them back,” he said. 

His broadcasting career branched out to advertising and marketing, consulting, and politics. He was a political consultant to Helen Chenoweth, who was elected to Congress representing Idaho's 1st Congressional District, in 1994. Later, David got into politics himself, serving as Canyon County Commissioner from 2004-2013. He said his priorities were: 

  • Listening to the constituents 
  • Lowering government intrusion 
  • Pursuing economic development 

During his time as commissioner, he served on the Telecommunication and Technology Steering Committee of the National Association of Counties. 

He's worked as a sales manager and owned his own firm, Century Companies. But other notable things David has accomplished include his volunteerism, including: 

God & Country 

He currently serves as president of the God & Country Festival. He was first elected president of the God and Country Association Board in 1999. He was vice president and board member until 2017 and was then elected — and later re-elected — president for 2017, 2018 and 2019. 

The event formerly known as the God & Country Rally goes back to 1966 and is currently in its 53rd year. The program features Christian musical acts, speakers, civic awards, military tributes, food, fun, and a huge fireworks display to close out the day. The program annually precedes the Fourth of July and is a non-denominational, free celebration of the nation. According to David, the new vision statement of the festival is “Sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and Honoring the Godly Foundation of America.” 

“America's founding principal is that God honored us because we honored Him,” he said. 

This year's event will take place from 4 to 11 p.m. Wednesday, June 26, at the Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater, its new home since 2000. 

Radio Museum & Education Center 

David is a member of the History of Idaho Broadcasting Foundation, the driving force behind an Idaho Broadcasting History and Education Center that will open in the former KFXD studio, where David worked as a young man, at 12th Avenue and 11th Street in Nampa. “We hope to be open in about a year,” David said during an interview in late February. 

Foundation members are a “who's who” of Treasure Valley radio personalities dating back to the '60s. Highlights of the museum will be broadcasting memorabilia from the station's history, which stretches back to the 1930s. The center will help people learn the process of communication. “There will be studios where schoolkids and college kids can come in and learn and get experience,” David said. 

The Saint Alphonsus Foundation Board 

David serves on the Saint Alphonsus Foundation Board that meets at the Saint Alphonsus Medical Center on East Flamingo Avenue off Garrity Boulevard in Nampa. “They sought me to be on the board because I was born and raised here,” he said. 

It turns out “location, location, location” worked in David's favor in 2018 when he suffered a heart attack. He was at the hospital at the exact time his heart faltered and he went down. He doesn't view it as mere coincidence. “God had me right there at the hospital at the right time,” he said. 

At 70, he now wears a pacemaker, but meeting him at the hospital's cafeteria and watching him meet and greet so many there is proof the pacemaker may have shifted his priorities but not his relationship to the community and the people in it. 

His grandmother wasn't the only family member who influenced David. He said his mother taught him to live by the philosophy, “I'm no better than you, and you're no better than me.” 

It is a philosophy he's practiced over the decades. “I've helped people all my life,” he said. 

For more information, go to http://www.historyofidahobroadcasting.org and https://www.facebook.com/godandcountryfestival/. 

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