You may recognise Maria Rodrigues’ voice from Premier’s Woman to Woman show, where she has served as senior producer and presenter for many years. With a host of bigname interviews under her belt, and not afraid to tackle the toughest of topics, Maria has made a huge impact in the studio and across the globe. With a passion for reporting on breaking news stories, she has travelled as far as Australia to bring fresh angles and insights on important issues.
Not content with producing her gripping weekday shows alone, Maria set up the Woman to Woman conference in 2008, attracting more than 10,000 female delegates to date. The conference is an extension of the radio show, enabling Christian women to meet, worship and discuss key issues in a more open format. Maria was also responsible for launching the Christian New Media Awards, dedicated to the use of innovation and creativity in digital media.
Passionate about prayer, Christian unity and human rights issues, Maria loves spending time with young people. She talks here about the highs and lows of presenting Woman to Woman, what we can expect at this year’s conference, and who she would most like to interview if she had the chance.
How did you come to present the Woman to Woman show on Premier Christian Radio?
I studied theology at university. My thought at that time was that I would probably go on to be a missionary, but God had other ideas and I ended up working in radio, which was a missionary work of a different sort from the one I had imagined!
While I was working at Premier, co-presenting the breakfast show, I was asked to take on Woman to Woman, which at the time was a fairly new programme that tackled many controversial issues. After a few months of presenting, it quickly developed it into discipleship show for Christian women; a way of bringing encouraging testimonies and creating discussion on issues that affect women in their walk with God.
Can you tell us about a challenging situation you have had to deal with on the show recently?
Every day is an adventure on the show, whether it’s discussing adult topics such as developing physical intimacy in marriage, or sharing about our joys and struggles in the life of faith.
A specific challenge that is still fresh in my mind was when the Manchester bombing occurred during an Ariana Grande concert in 2017. The planned show had to go out of the window and a new programme was created from scratch. We had to respond on the spot to explore where God is in the midst of suffering as we spoke live, on-air, to Christians in Manchester about how God’s light can shine in a time of tragedy.
And a memorable highlight?
Standing in a refugee camp in Uganda interviewing a doctor from South Sudan who had fled from the conflict in her home town, who had no status to work and was simply relying on handouts from charities and strangers was a standout moment.
Another memorable show was when we had the Watoto Children’s Choir crammed into the studio, all singing and dancing around me. It was a powerful time!
If you could interview anyone on the Woman to Woman show, who would it be?
If it was a woman I would probably choose the Queen. She is a leading woman of faith who no one has ever really had access to as far as interviews are concerned, so I would love to chat with her about God. If it was a man I would probably like to interview the current Pope (with a translator in tow!). Apart from those high-profile people, I am blessed to be able to interview pretty much anyone else.
Who is booked to speak at the Woman to Woman conference in 2019?
We have a great speaker line-up, including Terri Savelle Foy, Sheila Walsh, Rachel Hickson, Esther Bonsu and Lou Fellingham. Sheila is flying in from the States to share her journey of having a breakdown while working for a large Christian TV station in America, experiencing restoration, then writing books that have sold millions of copies worldwide. In the evening she will share on the theme of her latest book, It’s Okay Not to Be Okay (Baker).
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to hang out with teenagers. My husband and I are involved with the youth ministry in our church, so whether it’s a young adults’ Bible study or an evening of silly games, I enjoy helping young people grow in their faith. Teenagers always ask amazing questions, so I enjoy having them keep me on my toes spiritually.
You can listen to the Woman to Woman show on weekdays from 10.30am. The Woman to Woman conference takes place on 30th March 2019, at Methodist Central Hall Westminster from 10am to 9pm. Tickets are available at womantowoman.events