Focus on the Family founder James C. Dobson’s “retirement” has proven to be short lived.
In April of 2009, Dobson announced he was curtailing his duties at the Colorado Springs-based Religious Right powerhouse he founded in the late 1970s. Dobson said he would give up most managerial responsibilities and turn day-to-day operation of the group over to its new president, Jim Daly. But Dobson said he would continue his daily radio broadcasts.
In December, Dobson announced a change of plans. He intends to drop the FOF broadcasts this month and shift his radio presence to a different forum, one run by his son, Ryan.
The new show will begin airing next month under the auspices of a new organization called “James Dobson on the Family.” The Associated Press reported that the new program “will cover many of the same topics, including marriage, child-rearing and national issues.”
Ryan Dobson will co-host the program, leading to speculation that James Dobson is interested in grooming his son as a possible successor. Such moves are common in the Religious Right. Jerry Falwell passed his Lynchburg, Va., empire on to his two sons, Jerry Jr. and Jonathan. Pat Robertson’s son, Gordon, is now a co-host of “The 700 Club.” The ailing Don Wildmon of the American Family Association has turned over the reins to his son Tim.
In a December letter to supporters, James Dobson outlined his new venture.
“Some of you may be wondering why I didn’t simply stay at Focus on the Family if my purpose was to continue broadcasting as usual,” he wrote. “It is because I have felt since the turn of the century that I needed to begin passing along the leadership of the ministry to a younger generation.”
Dobson’s letter of explanation also contained an appeal for donations, fueling speculation that his new venture may compete with Focus on the Family for funding – although Dobson has urged supporters to continue to give to FOF.
Ryan Dobson, who was born in 1970, runs his own group, KOR Ministries, which is aimed at young people. In 2007, he authored a book titled Be Intolerant: Because Some Things Are Just Stupid. Otherwise, he has tended to keep a low profile. The younger Dobson’s “pro-family” credentials have also been hampered by a divorce he went through a few years ago.
FOF will continue its own daily broadcasts, hosted by Daly.