Photo by N p holmes

I’ve always heard two sides of Bernie Ward.  One sounds loving and hopeful, ready to reach out and help others in times of struggle and need.  He knows what words to choose, what someone wants to hear.  That’s what he did in the wee hours of many Sunday mornings for despairing souls.  There was warmth and compassion for those callers in need of some reassurance from this ordained man of God on the radio.  He could expound on any religious topic, discuss in-depth interpretations of theologian thought.  He was the type of voice one would want to hear on a God Talk radio program.

The other Bernie was rough and loud and hurtful.  In his other time slots as a radio host, he slammed the phone down on callers, was brutal in his ridicule of them, and talked over anyone who didn’t support his own thought process.  Completely the opposite of the Ward we heard on Sundays.

I recall this, now, many years after his release from KGO Radio and his sentencing to a prison term for distributing child pornography.  I cannot explain the sense of shock and betrayal from his fan base when the news broke.  People weren’t outraged, they were stunned.  It wasn’t discussed in the hours I listened to KGO, I relied on internet searches and hearsay and other news channels to find out what had happened.  I’ve since read on some Facebook pages and blogs that a few former KGO hosts had discussed the Ward felony conviction at length, but during times I didn’t listen to KGO.  I would have loved to have listened to that back then.  Sometimes you have to hear different viewpoints in order to put your own into perspective.  I’d always hoped that, maybe, Bernie had been doing research for a book.  I’ve always left that little possibility open since I don’t really know the facts of the case.

But Bernie has a blog.  Even in prison, he’s able to write his own blog.  He can’t post on it, but he can write for it.  I’ve shared a few of his posts here.  Knowledgeable, insider views on the whats and whys of the sudden KGO Talk Radio format change.   Finally, he was someone who could add some insight to this mess.

He addressed it in two different blog posts.  I was happy to share his thoughts.

But, another post appeared and it reminded me of those up and down moments of the Bernie I recalled.  This new post was full of religiosity and reflection.  I read through it and was disturbed by something in it.  Was there a confession in there somewhere?

I didn’t want to read too much into it, especially when it referred to redemption and hope in the end.  But I can’t shake a nagging feeling of his using religious thought as a cloak to distract others from seeing him as who he really is.  People are reluctant to judge someone who preaches gospel and the works of God.  We suspend belief that someone could preach truth and the golden rule while, at the same time, participating in the lowest form of behavior known to mankind.

I won’t link to this particular blog post, but these are the words that stood out for me:

“In this room, everyone has made choices, which so hurt our families and friends and we lost our freedom because of our weakness.”

“I live in a place where despair and hopelessness are constant companions. I’m here because of my own sinfulness and free choices I made.”

That doesn’t sound like someone wrongfully convicted for book research.  Maybe I’m misinterpreting it.  Maybe it’s Bernie struggling with his thoughts so close to Christmas.  Who knows?  But it reminded me that I’ll never know which Bernie I’m going to get, whether it’s on the radio or in his own words.

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