Beloved speaker, radio host, author and minister to America’s youth, Dawson McAllister, passes away at 74

Announcing the passing of our founder Dawson McAllister

SPRING HILL, TN (December 17, 2020) -- Dawson McAllister, whose call-in program for teens and young adults, Dawson McAllister Live! was one of the most popular longtime radio programs on Christian radio and Top 40 secular radio, went home to be with the Lord on Thursday, December 17.

He will long be remembered as a dedicated spokesman to, and for, teenagers and young adults in need. Dawson frequently quoted: “We run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.” His straightforward, truthful, compassionate presentation of the gospel brought millions of teens and young adults from the brink of suicide into new life with Christ.

Dawson was born in 1946 in New Kensington, Pennsylvania and was raised as a minister’s son in Peoria, Illinois. He graduated from Bethel University in St. Paul MN and did his seminary work at Talbot Theological Seminary in Los Angeles, CA.

In 1973 he founded Shepherd Productions, the 501c3 that is known today as the Dawson McAllister Association. Shortly after, he pioneered city-wide student conferences, a youth group conference model that taught students biblical truths they could apply to their lives in practical ways. Over 20 years, these conferences grew to arena-sized events and were attended by over a million students.

In January 1991, a new opportunity presented itself—Radio. Starting on just five Christian stations, his call-in talk show, Dawson McAllister Live! grew to 250 stations. In 1994 it was voted National Religious Broadcasters’ Talk Show of the Year. In 2005, Dawson pioneered once again by creating a Top 40 version of the syndicated radio show, Dawson McAllister Live!

Recognizing that more was needed to rescue young people from their deep dilemmas, Dawson founded TheHopeLine in October, 1991—an off-air coaching line where more than 1.2 million one-on-one conversations have provided emotional and spiritual triage for 13- to 29-year-olds who are struggling with everything from addiction to despair. In addition, Dawson and his team have built a community of trusted partners to whom the organization makes thousands of annual referrals.

In 2017, TheHopeLine strategically moved to being a fully web-based ministry. The digital ministry includes on-line streaming radio, podcasts, social media, content rich blogs, stories, videos, eBooks, on-line chat and many other digital resources designed to help teens and young adults with the struggles they are facing today.

Dawson has written 18 books and was awarded an honorary Doctorate by Biola University. He married his beloved wife, Ruth Hill, in 1977. They have two sons, Fulton and Gene McAllister.

Dawson will be greatly missed — but his life’s ministry to the young people of America will continue.

The Board of Directors and Dawson made careful plans for the ongoing ministry of TheHopeline. Dawson’s mission of reaching hurting and broken youth and young adults with God’s transforming love will continue unabated.


About Dawson McAllister Association

The Dawson McAllister Association communicates biblical truths of Christianity to teens and young adults, moving them from crisis to Christ. The ministry augments its radio and internet outreach through TheHopeLine, a one-on-one chat system that is manned every evening with trained HopeCoaches. These HopeCoaches have handled hundreds of thousands of chats from desperate and hurting teenagers and young adults whose issues and concerns are complex and deep.

Media Contact

Jen DeJong



Notes and Thoughts for Dawson's Family

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Dawson’s work is done. But ours will go on…


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