The history of the KEYS FOR KIDS MINISTRIES/CHILDREN’S BIBLE HOUR and the personal history of Charlie Vander Meer run along parallel lines. Children’s Bible Hour began broadcasting in November 1942. About a year later, when he was nine years old, Charlie was picked out of a studio audience by then host, “Uncle Mel Johnson” to participate in a live broadcast of Children's Bible Hour. From there he went on to a regular spot in the program, reading from “Charlie’s Scrapbook,” reciting poems, helping in the dramatized stories, and often serving as “junior emcee.”
At 17, Charlie left the program for four years of college study, graduating in 1956 with a major in radio and television production. Immediately he joined the staff of Children’s Bible Hour and in 1959 was named Assistant Director. He worked closely with “Aunt Bertha” Shooks until her retirement in 1972, when he assumed the directorship of the ministry and host of the radio programs.
Known as “Uncle Charlie” to boys and girls around the world, he is part of a ministry that is currently aired on 1000 broadcast outlets, translators and satellators in all 50 states and in many foreign countries.
In March 1999, Charlie stepped down as Executive Director and is now serving in the capacity of Ambassador-at-large. He continues as the voice for the daily “Keys for Kids” 4 ½ minute six-day-a-week program, and the daily/weekly program called “Storytime,” as well as re-runs of the classic Children’s Bible Hour broadcasts. Each of these three programs are heard on more than 200 radio outlets.
Charlie serves on the Board of Directors of the Arizona-based Family Life Communications, and as a Board member of Christ for the Philippines, a radio ministry headquartered in Iloilo City, Philippines.
Charlie and his wife Bette have three grown children and eight grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. Charlie also has a “wooden friend” named Wally who goes with him in many children’s meetings where Charlie has a presentation of ventriloquism, Gospel “tricks that teach,” and dramatized story. Now that he is a “senior citizen”, he also has a “Grandpa puppet” which he uses for senior-citizen events. But first, and foremost, Charlie believes that Jesus meant what He said in Mark 10:14: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them..…”