BIRGMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — Longtime radio host and current men’s ministry leader Rick Burgess announced on Thursday, Feb. 1, that this year will be the final one of the “Rick and Bubba Show.”
“We’ve had a lot of discussions [about it]. It’s been an incredible 30 years,” said Burgess, sitting beside his co-host for that duration, Bill “Bubba” Bussey.
“We’re going to go wide open and have a great year, have a lot of flashbacks and memories and talk about the last 30 years that … you folks have made possible,” Bussey said to the audience.
Both are active members of Southern Baptist churches with Burgess having an ever-expanding platform for men’s ministry. Decades on the airwaves have given listeners an up-close look at how their testimonies developed.
Radio magic in the Magic City
Burgess and Bussey’s radio partnership began in Gadsden, Ala., when Burgess was the morning DJ and Bussey the station engineer at Top 40 station Q-104. After noticing their on-air chemistry from Bussey’s sporadic appearances during his show, Burgess volunteered to take a pay cut to make him a full-time partner.
It was an “investment,” Burgess said on Thursday, that he has never regretted.
The show developed a local audience that grew across the Southeast upon a relocation to Birmingham, live TV show on Turner South and national syndication. Technology has since made it available through podcasts, YouTube and a TuneIn channel.
The two are known for their conservative leanings and Christian faith. However, that wasn’t always their background.
Burgess and Bussey grew up in neighboring towns and met in a Spanish class at Jacksonville State University, their alma mater alongside R&B on-air teammates Calvin Wilburn and Michael Helms. They worked together at the campus radio station, WLJS, while Burgess played bar gigs with his rock band, Mr. Lucky, as Bussey moved on into radio management and engineering.
Their time on the air would begin after Bussey called Burgess from the field as the JSU Gamecocks celebrated the 1992 Division II football national championship in Florence, Ala. Burgess, whose father, Bill, was the head coach, had not been granted permission by his radio employer to miss work to attend the game.
Real faith amid the unthinkable
Burgess’ personal testimony from the time reflects that of a someone running from Jesus. During pre-marriage counseling, he was challenged on the validity of his faith.
“I realized that I only believed in Jesus in a historical sense and that I had never truly become His disciple,” he said. “It was only then that I submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and my life has never been the same.”
In January 2008, the Burgess family’s youngest member, 2-year-old Bronner, drowned in the family pool. At the time Burgess was speaking at an event in Gatlinburg hosted by longtime friend and evangelist Scott Dawson.
“For 26 of the 30 years I have been friends with Rick and Bubba,” Dawson posted online. “The intentionality of including everything from ministry to nonsense in the show has been a mainstay for millions of Americans.
“Although I’m sad this is the last year, I congratulate them on an incredible 30 year run and look forward to the new endeavors for both. Stay in it fellas! Make this year the best one yet.”
The highly-evangelistic eulogy delivered by Burgess at his son’s funeral became the most-viewed video on YouTube for that week. His wife Sherri, who found their son, went on to address the spiritual struggle that ensued in her book “Bronner: A Journey to Understand.”
New horizons in ministry
Burgess is a member of Valleydale Church and Bussey a part of The Church at Brook Hills, both in Birmingham.
“Rick is as deeply committed to the Lord as anyone I’ve ever known,” Valleydale pastor Mac Brunson told BP. “He is gifted and uses those gifts for ministry, especially to men. His ministry all over the country to men is one of the most effective, and he is seriously dedicated to it.
“We have prayed together, visited the hospital together, he has preached for me at Valleydale, and I have spoken for him. In all of this he is deeply committed to Sherri and his family.”
Burgess, recently installed as a deacon at Valleydale, is also director of The Man Church. On Jan. 27 he spoke at Long Hollow Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., where Pastor Robby Gallaty talked about their influence.
“They are unashamedly Christian in a secular setting,” said Gallaty, who will be speaking at the Man Church Conference in Birmingham on Feb. 16. “People are drawn to them because they talk openly about their faith in a world where others are trying to keep that quiet.”
Approximately 150 men responded at the event at his church, Gallaty said.
“We had about 62 men surrender their life to Christ for the first time. Another 45 followed through with baptism. It was a pretty powerful presence of the Lord that Saturday night.”