LAKEWOOD RANCH — Three days was all it took to drastically change John Smith’s life.
Unemployed following an illness, the now 59-year-old found himself with few options when he had three days to move out after he received an eviction notice on the door of the home he was renting in February 2012. Unbeknownst to him, the landlord hadn’t paid the mortgage in years.
“We had nowhere to move,” Smith says. “Thankfully, we had my son’s Cub Scout tent.”
The two camped along the Braden River, with no modern conveniences, for more than four months before finding the Community Coalition on Homelessness, now called Turning Points, which provides resources and services to the area’s homeless population.
“We walked in the door, and they literally changed our lives overnight,” Smith says. “They gave us bug spray; the mosquitoes were as big as hummingbirds. We took our laundry there. We took showers there.”
About a month later, a volunteer at the Food Bank of Manatee gave Smith an old motor home in which to live. Turning Points also helped Smith find employment helping homeless military veterans secure housing and other resources.
Smith now shares his story to help the community see how the issue of homelessness is evolving. And his story will be one highlighting local issues on a new radio program being launched by Salt & Light Productions.
Salt & Light will premiere its new hour-long program, “Salt & Light Radio with Stuart Roth,” at noon March 2, on WSRQ Sarasota 1220 AM and 106.9 FM.
Roth, a local philanthropist whose nonprofit, the Center for Faith and Freedom, doing business and Salt & Light Productions, creates promotional videos for local non-profit agencies, saw the concept as a way to expand Salt & Light’s mission and reach.
“I’m trying to do on the radio what we do with the video production — create a top-notch program that will educate (consumers) and motivate people to act and help others who are less fortunate,” Roth says. “I will be able to give a platform to a lot of the nonprofits I can’t give (through video production). It allows us to be topical and to do an in-depth look at the issues that are on the front pages today.
“The whole point is really to profile the issue and to give the issue a face,” Roth says, noting some of the first segments will be about post-traumatic stress disorder, gangs and homelessness.
Roth says he’s been approached about starting a radio program several times, but the timing, among other factors, never seemed right.
But, following a recent discussion with Susan Nilon, owner and general manager of WSRQ, Roth was ready to move forward.
“I only want to get involved with people who are of the same mind as me — involved because they want to be involved, not (to promote their business),” Roth says.
Roth decided to convert a rarely-used video production studio room into a new recording studio; he donated the production set to Lakewood Ranch High School. He and his team then set up a conference-style table with microphones, headsets and other equipment used for producing radio shows and began choosing topics for new program, as well as creating bumpers and advertisements to compliment programming.
For more information, visit saltandlightproductions.org or sarasotatalkradio.com/salt-light-radio.