ST. PETERSBURG, Florida — Rob Reynolds has accomplished much in his life — successful real estate entrepreneur, faithful husband and loving father. Now he’s really setting his sights high.
“I don’t want to just get by as a Catholic. I want to be a saint. I’m definitely on a mission,” said Reynolds, owner of Cross Boss Media in Tampa, Florida.
Over the past three years, he has devoted himself full time to developing Christian-based TV programming that entertains and evangelizes the hearts of young people.
But he said this mission is not his own. While on a silent retreat in 2018, he heard a clear call to leave his real estate company and go into ministry.
“This is not my cause to draw kids to God; rather, it’s God’s cause that he’s chosen me to lead, assemble a great team and — above all — remain faithful,” Reynolds told Gulf Coast Catholic, the online news outlet of the St. Petersburg Diocese.
His media company’s first show, “Studio 3:16,” launched nationally Sept. 8, which was the feast of the Nativity of our Blessed Mother, Mary. The show can be viewed at studio316.com.
Reynolds has recruited a Hollywood-based director/screenwriter and cinematographer to give the show a polished and professional presentation. It incorporates Scripture, music, the arts, humor and great storytelling.
“Media, along with academia, are attacking and effectively destroying the innocence and faith of our kids and families, and I’m not going to stand, watch, and complain about it anymore,” he said. “I’m also not going to combat it by producing subpar content, hoping for a pass from kids and parents because it’s Christian.”
“It needs to stand alone as excellent content,” said Reynolds, a parishioner at Christ the King Catholic Church in Tampa.
To give the show an authentic quality, Reynolds has created a writers guild of local students who are paid to review and revise every script with the show’s producers to ensure the program appeals to their target audience, children ages 7-12.
John Bergsma, a professor at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, and at St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, also in Steubenville, is a program adviser who ensures the interpretation of Scripture in each episode is faithful to Catholic Church teaching.
Also, local priests have been invited to become involved with the program. Father Chuck Dornquast, the Diocese of St. Petersburg’s director of vocations, appeared in the debut show. The priest is known for his gregarious personality and active social media presence.
“What inspires me about ‘Studio 3:16’ and the efforts of Rob and his team is that there is no safety net. They were faithful in prayer, recognized a tremendous need in the body of Christ, discerned a call to give themselves to this need and they’ve done it. There has not been a backup plan or blueprint. They are courageously living the Gospel,” said Father Chuck, as he is best known.
The show’s creators aim “to inspire young people to imitate Christ through the foundation of virtues, faith and truth.”
The plot involves a high-spirited Christian recording artist, “aided by unsuspecting collaborators,” who discovers how Gospel passages are relevant today so he can reconcile his own shortcomings, keep his job and teach kids about God through his music.
Tampa resident Shevin McCullough is the co-writer and lead actor of “Studio 3:16.” He plays the good-natured yet misguided recording artist who writes and releases songs to explain the weekly Sunday Gospel passage.
The program is available to watch for free and viewers will be encouraged to support the program financially.
A news release said the funding model for “Studio 3:16” is similar to that of “The Chosen,” a popular TV series about the life of Christ that has surpassed 250 million views in the past two and a half years.
The show is being heavily marketed nationally but has a homegrown feel to locals.
“Many members of our team are proud residents of Tampa, proud Catholics of the Diocese of St. Petersburg and proud parishioners of various local churches,” said Reynolds.
“We believe that the show will have a Christ-centered impact on kids within and far beyond the local area,” he added.
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Teresa Peterson is content manager for Gulf Coast Catholic, the online news outlet of the Diocese of St. Petersburg.