Fresno DJ Doc Lewis' gospel cure: 'Get your dance on' before church

The Fresno BeeJune 6, 2014 

DOC

Doc Lewis sits at a new workstation at Fresno State's KFSR radio studio Monday, June 2, 2014 in Fresno, Calif. Lewis started a gospel radio show August in 2012. "My goal is to keep gospel music growing in the Valley," said Lewis.

ERIC PAUL ZAMORA — THE FRESNO BEE Buy Photo

Fresno radio personality Doc Lewis says he tries to look at life with a sense of gratitude.

The host of the "Gospel Show" that airs 6-9 a.m. Sundays on KFSR (FM 90.7) was born with cerebral palsy, which affects his body movements and muscle coordination. Sometimes he can't control his left hand.

"It's OK," he says. "I've got my right hand. I know where everything is."

Lewis does his job so well that the "Gospel Show" is one of KFSR's most popular programs, one of 27 specialty shows that are designed to keep listeners entertained, educated and updated. The weekly show launched Aug. 19, 2012.

KFSR is a member-supported, noncommercial station on the Fresno State campus that broadcasts at 2,600 watts and estimates its reach at about 750,000 people. The "Gospel Show" also has listeners in Japan, China, United Kingdom, Canada and Mexico via streaming at kfsr.org.

"Doc Lewis is a treasured member of the KFSR team," says Julie Logan, operations manager/program director at the radio station. "The program's success is directly linked to Doc's passion, sincerity and dedication."

He says he feels fortunate to be alive.

Born four months' premature, Gerald "Doc" Lewis weighed just 8 ounces at birth.

"There were challenges" growing up, he says, including body casts that he wore throughout childhood for two-week periods as corrective procedures for his spine, arms and legs and a brace that he wore on his left leg until age 14.

He didn't learn much else about his early years until his mother Sarah Banks Lewis told it on her deathbed in 2008.

He says a book about his life -- "Let Me Tell You My Story" -- is planned to be released in about three months.

While growing up in Gonzales, La., he became interested in radio broadcasting at a young age after meeting a friend of his grandmother, Alberta Thompson.

That friend was Lyall Boudreaux, a broadcaster for Louisiana State sports.

One day, a spotter was sick, and Boudreaux asked Lewis to step in.

"My grandmother let me go, even with CP, because she knew him," Lewis remembers.

It was the spark for a radio career that has seen Lewis gravitate to sharing gospel music. He hosted "Gospel Hits" programs at KHIS (FM 89.9) in Bakersfield and KIRV (AM 1510) in Fresno. When the previous host of the "Gospel Show" at KFSR left, station officials asked Lewis to host the program.

"We didn't want gospel music to die in Fresno, so I said yes."

Lewis is dedicated to his shows. He records them usually in the wee hours of the night, when there's "no interruptions" -- often with the help of his wife, Demetris.

He says he mainly wants his shows to lift the spirits of listeners. Many are tuning in as they are getting ready to go to church.

He often says on-air: "Praise the Lord! ... Get your dance on before you go to church."

Lewis likes to play the inspirational songs of The Winans, Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr Singers and Kirk Franklin. He also gives insight into the artists and their CDs and provides updates on the industry.

"Gospel music speaks to the inner heart of man," he says. "If you're in a situation, where you can't (understand) the word of God, maybe a song will bring a smile to your face. It might help you."

Or move you. Lewis says he often tells listeners, "If you're in your car, I want you to pull over because this next song, it'll get your groove on."

His passion is evident to others.

Cindy and Bob Clay, who form the contemporary Christian musical duo Wayland's Daughter, were interviewed by Lewis when he first started at KFSR. Cindy has fond memories of Lewis.

"We were nervous going in because we had never done a live interview," she says. "He's such a down-to-earth guy. He was a natural. His personality is just right for what he does."

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6304, rorozco@fresnobee.com or @ronorozco_bee on Twitter.

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