The story of how Nick Eicher started WORLD magazine’s daily radio magazine, “The World and Everything in It,” is the story of tumultuous journalistic times, ambitious audience chasing, and patiently waiting for a dream.
“The World and Everything in It” (TW&E) began broadcasting in August 2011 as a two-hour, commercially-formatted weekend radio show. The program — featuring news, commentary, reviews, and interviews — strives for the high production value standards of National Public Radio while using the biblically-based journalism of WORLD.
Now nearly 400 broadcast outlets carry TW&E’s weekend show in its two-hour and one-hour formats.
Initially 24 stations across the country carried the program. Now nearly 400 broadcast outlets carry TW&E’s weekend show in its two-hour and one-hour formats. In May 2013 TW&E began a 26-minute daily podcast available on WORLD’s website, and radio stations have begun carrying the daily program, too.
The program fulfills a dream Eicher first had in 1989. After working for St. Louis radio stations and as a press secretary on Capitol Hill, in 1988 Eicher met St. Louis attorney Tim Belz, who introduced Eicher to the fledgling Christian magazine called WORLD, founded by Tim’s brother Joel.
Eicher began freelancing for WORLD while still producing radio shows in St. Louis, sometimes borrowing content from the magazine for his radio programs. In 1989 Eicher pitched Joel Belz on the idea of producing a radio magazine that used WORLD content, and Belz liked the idea. But since he needed more help with the magazine, Belz hired Eicher as his assistant editor instead.
Since then Eicher has worked as WORLD’s editor, managing editor, and publisher. He has also served as CEO of WORLD’s parent company, God’s World Publications. From these seats of leadership he has watched many media organizations eliminate newsroom jobs to ameliorate budget woes. The result, Eicher said, has been shallow reporting.
He has also seen the traditional print news audience fracture into niche audiences that need to be chased using new, diverse media. Convinced that magazine journalism supports the best writing and deepest reporting, Eicher set about to put WORLD-standard journalism into as many outlets as possible.
WORLD has developed apps for the iPad and Kindle, created podcasts, and started filming videos for YouTube and Vimeo. “In order to chase an atomized audience, you have to provide your content in as many channels as you can,” Eicher said.
While Eicher led God’s World Publications, his friend and fellow radio producer Joseph Slife suggested to him that WORLD produce a radio program. Though WORLD did not have the time or money to invest in such a monumental task, the suggestion kept Eicher’s radio dream alive.
Under the leadership of Belz and editor-in-chief Marvin Olasky, WORLD maintained its rigorous journalistic standards and clear-eyed biblical worldview, and doing so earned it the respect of media organizations such as Salem Radio Network (SRN). In May 2011 SRN offered WORLD the opportunity to produce a pilot radio program.
Finally Eicher got the opportunity he first envisioned 22 years earlier. He immediately called Joseph Slife and invited Slife to help produce the pilot and the weekly program. “I rebuffed him three times because … I knew how much work it was going to be,” Slife said. It wasn’t until his wife told him he was born for this job that Slife agreed to produce and co-host TW&E.
Technological advances have made the project more feasible now than it was eight years ago when Slife suggested the idea of a WORLD-produced program to Eicher. Internet file sharing, podcasting, and sophisticated digital recording have all lowered the cost of a radio program. With Slife in North Carolina and Eicher in St. Louis, the hosts communicate via email, phone, text, and video chat.
“It was an idea waiting for the technology to catch up with it,” Slife said. Still, producing a daily radio program with a small staff demands long hours. Both men say they work 14 to 16 hours each day, though they hope that number will decrease as the daily program becomes more established.
“The name is a theological name because we take theology and journalism seriously,” Eicher said. “We take journalism seriously because we take theology seriously.”
The program name (from Psalm 89:11) captures their vision of examining all aspects of the news from a biblical perspective. “The name is a theological name because we take theology and journalism seriously,” Eicher said. “We take journalism seriously because we take theology seriously.”
The hosts see their audience members as busy individuals who download the podcast and listen to it while driving to work, cooking dinner, or walking the dog.
Realizing his dream does not mean Eicher is completely satisfied. He works to faithfully steward the opportunities God has given him and expand the presence of a biblical worldview in radio.
“It’s not as though God has limited resources, but we want to get everything possible out of what He’s given us,” he said. And since every hour of the day is under Christ’s lordship, every hour can use radio that proclaims Christ as Lord.