The Petersen Page

The Empty Chair
February 22, 2008, 2:46 am
Filed under: Articles, Devotional


A true story from Brennan Manning in the book, “Abba’s Child” Once a woman asked me to come and pray with her father, who was dying of cancer. When I arrived, I found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows and an empty chair beside his bed. I assumed the old fellow had been informed of my visit. “I guess you were expecting me,” I said. “No, who are you?” “I’m the new associate at your parish,” I replied. “When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up.” “Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bed-ridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?” Puzzled, I shut the door. “I’ve never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man, “but all my life I have never known how to pray. At the Sunday Mass I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it always went right over my head. “I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” he continued, “until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, ‘Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here’s what I suggest. Sit down on a chair, place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because He promised, “I’ll be with you all days.” Then just speak to Him and listen in the same way you’re doing with me right now.’ “So, Padre, I tried it, and I like it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d send me off to the funny farm.” I was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old guy to continue on the journey. Then I prayed with him, anointed him with oil, and returned to the rectory. Two nights later the daughter called to tell me that her daddy had died that afternoon. “Did he seem to die in peace?” I asked. “Yes. But there was something strange. In fact, beyond strange—kinda weird. Apparently just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on a chair beside his bed.”


The Meaning of Ash Wednesday
February 7, 2008, 3:04 am
Filed under: Articles


The meaning of Ash Wednesday

Friday, March 9, 2001


The essential truth, and gift, of Ash Wednesday is its call to come to terms with ourselves before God. Ash Wednesday says what so much of modern culture denies, namely that we human beings are forever deceiving and justifying ourselves.

For those familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous and other Twelve Step programs, Ash Wednesday is a like a giant, pull-out-all-the stops Step Four. We “made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

Ash Wednesday is not only a day for searching self-scrutiny on the part of individuals, but for us as a community of people. What we have most in common as human beings is our sin, our failure to be who we have been made to be and called to be. What we have most in common is our need for mercy.

Of course, a lot of people don’t agree with this. Many think that our problem is insufficient self-esteem. We need to think more highly of ourselves, love ourselves more. Personally, I think we have gone about as far down that road as we can go. I’m in favor of thinking less of ourselves. Oh sure, that too can be overdone. 

On Ash Wednesday, a pretty convincing call to attention was sounded at around 11 a.m. in the Pacific Northwest. When we clambered out from under our desks and door frames, one clear lesson was that we were all in this one together. The earthquake didn’t single out one racial, ethnic, gender, age, economic, ideological or occupational group. No, it was an equal opportunity event. A reminder that we’re all in this together, and that no one gets to point the finger or to distance themselves and say, “That’s about her, not me; about them, not us.”

Over the years I have noticed a university professor who always makes it to Ash Wednesday services every year, even though her Sunday attendance is sporadic. Finally, I asked her, “I see you really make a point of getting to Ash Wednesday. What’s the deal?”

“It’s the one day of the year,” she said, “when we really get it right, when we tell the truth, a truth that’s not told at the university. We’re a mess. We need help. If it’s all up to us, we’re doomed.”

Of course, confession, apology and remorse are possible and make sense only when we believe it is not all up to us.

The Day My Name Appeared In Billboard Magazine
November 4, 2007, 7:18 am
Filed under: Articles


10 Questions-All Access Radio Website
November 4, 2007, 7:13 am
Filed under: Articles


So I was asked to fill out some questions about my job for an Online Radio Website called All Access. So here it is:


NAME: Josh Petersen
TITLE: Manager of Marketing and Radio Promotion
COMPANY: Centricity Records
FORMATS: Pop, Singer/Songwriter, Worship, and Rock
BORN WHERE? Granville, Ohio
RAISED WHERE? Granville, Ohio, Rochester, MI, and Minneapolis, MN

WNZR-Mt. Vernon, OH (non reporting) AC-Radio DJ, Production staff
Waterfront Entertainment-Product Manager
SRE/INO Records-Marketing Manager
Weekend22 CHR Countdown Show-Script and Research Writer
Centricity Records-Manager of Marketing and Radio Promotions

1) What made you want to get into the music business? Who were your early mentors?

-I got into this industry because I fell in love with Christian Music when I was in High School, and I wanted to be surrounded with Men and Women who loved music and wanted to advance the Gospel. I wanted to serve artists, and that is what I still feel called to today. Hugh Robertson, John Fry, Ken Farley, Vince Wilcox, and Steve Ford were some of my most important mentors and industry folks that I looked and still look up to on a daily basis.

2) What’s your favorite thing about Centricity Records?

-I love the freedom to sign artists that I believe in. Artists with a message and the talent to get that message across to their audiences. I love working at a “Family” label where we are all part of the team. Every voice is heard, considered, and implemented. Steve, John, Guy, Penny, and Caren are the best people to get in the trenches with everyday.

3) What do you think is the most important topic facing the music business and radio right now?

-How do we breathe life back into a dying music model? How do we continually break artist’s careers in a shrinking radio, and retail environment? How do we still make people passionate about music again?

4) What do you like the most about your job? The least?

-I love the creative freedom I have. I love getting to interact with Christian radio stations, and retail friends all over the country. These people have amazing hearts for their jobs, and I am proud to do my part to serve them.

5) What’s your current take on the music in general? Is it sounding better, worse or the same as one year ago?
-I think Christian music is getting very competitive these days. I love the resurgence of artists wanting to create entire records….instead of just going for radio hits….even though that still happens a lot too.
I also love the fact that Christian music is becoming way more acceptable to mainstream audiences.

6) What are the most important tools/resources you use to stay on top of the format’s growth and daily changes?

-Myspace, R&R Tracking, Soundscan, Internet Music Bloggers such as Bob Lefsetz, and most importantly the conversations and creative dreaming that my staff is constantly engaged in!

7) What book (other than the Bible) have you read that has touched you or taught you the most?

-Two books have shaped me lately. One being The Ragamuffin Gospel, which deals with learning to truly rely on God’s grace. The other book would have to be “Leadership” by Rudy Giuliani. This has really given me some interesting prospective on business, leadership, and working in a group setting.

8) What’s your favorite quote?

-“A friend is never an imposition” Frank Sinatra

9) Who has had the biggest impact on your life spiritually, personally and/or professionally?

-Spiritually it has probably been my mom and dad. My mom would sit down with me and read me the bible almost everyday for breakfast in highschool, and my dad has led by example….having the highest integrity of anyone I know.

-Personally it has probably been my good friend Tom Stauber. He has taught me a lot of how to be overly generous with my time and money, and how important faith, community, and friends are.

-Professionally it has to be two people. Steve Ford, my current boss, has probably taught me more about the industry then anyone else. His support for me, his constant attention and drive has grown me up a lot professionally in the last 2 years. The freedom and responsibility he has given me has been amazing and have kept me passionate about music.
-Hugh Robertson was the man who gave me a chance when I first came into the music industry. His excitement, sense of entrepreneurship, willingness to let me get “hands on” with my first record company from the start has really taught me a lot. He taught me the value of working hard, doing things for myself, and thinking outside the box have really played a big part into who I am know.

10) If you can imagine your life outside the music business, what would you be doing?

-Working on a political campaign
-Working at a small church as a youth pastor
-Starting my own small business back home in Ohio
-Working for The Ohio State University’s Athletic Dept.


1) Do you read everything? Nothing? Newspapers, magazines, books, etc.

Drudge Report, Tennessean, Columbus Dispatch, Q Magazine, Spin, Rudy Giuliani Leadership, Ruthless Trust-Brennan Manning

2) What’s in your CD player right now? Kate York, Jason Gray, Anberlin, Bob Dylan, Ohio State Fight Song ☺

3) If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want with you and why? My dad-cause he is smarter then me, Food-lots of PB&J, Water-cause I wouldn’t want to die

Where Music And Ministry Meet
October 4, 2007, 4:10 pm
Filed under: Articles


I have been around music my whole life–from my grandma’s love for slow dancing, to my parents instilling the value of Christian music in our home. Music can cause a person to fall to their knees, raise their hands, let off steam or simply enjoy life a little more. It will always be associated with milestones and memories because it is also evocative of another time. I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard Frank Sinatra sing and Johnny Cash talk a lyric. They were defining moments.

I never realized that this could be my career, however. When I attended MVNU, I thought that working in the music industry was a fairytale. Could people really work alongside their favorite artists?

As a student, I had the wonderful opportunity to work at the university radio station, WNZR 90.9 FM. Through the station, I attended the Gospel Music Association (GMA) Week in Nashville, Tenn. There, Christian record labels, radio stations, public relations firms, booking agents and artists come together for concerts and seminars. I fell in love with the idea of a career alongside all of my heroes. It was at GMA that God laid it on my heart to work in this business. I told God He would have to open all the doors.

And He did. I was offered an internship which turned into a full-time job at Waterfront Entertainment. I created and marketed 20 records my first year out of college, co-wrote part of a song that would be on Christian and inspirational stations all over the country (“How Great Thou Art” by Michael Tait of DC TALK) and, which my boss, was able to market CDs for Ardent Records, which has Skillet and Todd Agnew on their roster.

This opened the door for me at INO Records in Nashville. I am now responsible for 27 artists ranging from Mercy Me, Chris Rice, Skillet, Todd Agnew, Derek Webb, Flyleaf, The Afters, and many more. I help to market records, create magazine ads, coordinate events and aid in day-to-day operations of many bands. In February, I brought Todd Agnew to MVNU for an interview on WNZR–a first for the campus. What a treat to bring him back to my alma mater to perform his song “My Jesus” live at the station where I had spent countless hours.

It is an odd place where music and ministry meet. There is always tension when business and the Christian aspect of the music join together. We make music for profit, but we also do this because we feel that God is calling us to support these artists who bring the redeeming message of God’s love to millions of people. We pray often and seek wise counsel in our work.

I love my job. I get to use the Bible when I am marketing records–it’s a physical application of my faith. It is both emotional and surreal to be in the company of artist who believe that this world can be changed, that the American church should be challenged, and that Christians should give til it hurts. We are a small minority of the body of Christ, and we have our job to do, as much as any pastor or missionary.

I was astonished and honored when I was asked to write about my involvement and leadership in the Christian music industry. Leadership for me means being a servant. I strive to be like Moses’ brother, Aaron, to my artists, holding up their arms when they are tired and hurting, aiding their ministry. Leadership is found in the middle-of-the-night phone calls, last-minute runs for water, humility when the pay is low, and lifting people up when they are weak. I am a servant of the Servant.

Leadership is something that can be obtained, but it must start with Jesus. If you follow Him and seek His will, you will have peace knowing that He is in control of your circumstances. Leadership is humility and becoming a servant. That’s what I learned at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.