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Religious Broadcasts in Old Time Radio

Fulton SheenAimee Semple McPhersonRonald KnoxFather FlanaganGreatest Story Ever ToldMost who listened to the original Old Time Radio broadcasts subscribed to an Abrahamic faith, one of the monotheistic religions which descended from the prophet Abraham. The first of these faiths was Judaism, the Hebrew faith based on the teachings of Moses, handed down in the writings of the Torah. Christianity is based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as related in the New Testament. There are other Abrahamic religions, but their adherents had little influence on American radio.

As a tool to reach out to the people, radio was seen as useful as the printing press was to those who printed the earliest Bibles. Not all of those who used radio to spread their message were considered the best representatives of their faith. Some were disreputable at best, and others were downright crooked. A few seemed to use radio to spread a message designed more for personal profit than praising God.

Other radio religionists delivered a message that bore a message which reflected the best ideals of their faith. Very often these were more than a celebration and sharing of God's blessings, they reflected some of the best programing in radio.

Aimee Semple McPherson was one of the earliest evangelists to discover the power of radio. She was able to reach and minister to a large flock. Her ministry, which was financially very lucrative, was touched by scandal. In 1926, McPherson disappeared while swimming near Venice Beach. She was presumed dead, but later found wandering in the Mexican desert. There was evidence that she spent the time with a married boyfriend in Carmel-By-The-Sea.

In 1930, Father Fulton J. Sheen began a Sunday night broadcast called The Catholic Hour. The program enjoyed the support of The National Council of Catholic Men and featured excellent religious music along with religious and intellectual discussion. Among the themes Sheen explored were Catholicism in government and the War as a religious, as well as a political struggle. Fr. Sheen would be consecrated as Bishop in 1951, in 2012 the Vatican recognized Sheen's as a life of "heroic virtue", a step toward eventual beatification.

Father Charles Coughlin made more inflammatory use of the radio and was a more controversial Catholic figure. Coughlin began broadcasting in 1926 in response to KKK cross burnings on his parish grounds. The microphone became a useful tool for Coughlin, and soon he had a national audience. Many of his broadcasts were more political than religious. He was an early New Deal supporter, but moved away when it interfered with his anti-Semitic feelings. He fell from favor when he began supporting some of the policies of Hitler and Mussolini.

The Living God was a fanciful retelling of the Easter Story seen through the eyes of a "Man on the Street" reporter starring William Gargan.

English priest Ronald Knox was an Anglican and Catholic scholar who made many broadcasts for the BBC. He is noted for creating radio's first great "hoax" in his 1926 show "Broadcasting from the Barricades". The program was a supposed report of London being overwhelmed by revolutionaries and may have been an inspiration for Orson Welles 1938 War Of The Worlds broadcast.

One of the most famous American Catholic acts was the orphanage called Father Flanagan's Boys Town. Tales from "the city of little men" always included a reminder "no boy is a bad boy".

The Eternal Light was a cooperation between NBC and the Jewish Theological Seminary. Beginning in 1944, the program was originally part of the network's Sunday morning religious programming, presenting dramatizations of stories and lessons from the Torah and other Jewish writings. The program was part of the radio line-up until 1968 and on Sunday Morning television from 1952 until 1989.

The Old Fashioned Revival Hour and Radio Revival Heart to Heart Hour were both part of Pastor Charles Fuller's ministry from the Los Angeles area. Fuller had been an orange grower but found his calling, first in the leadership of the local Presbyterian Church, and later as a Bible School teacher at the Calvary Church in Placentia. At a conference in Indianapolis, he was invited to speak on a radio program in 1927. Realizing the reach of the new medium, he began his radio ministry in California.

The Greatest Story Ever Told was a radio series which ran from 1947 until 1956, based on stories from the gospels. The program used the highest of radio production values and was highly popular. In 1949, Reader's Digest editor Fulton Ousler adapted several of the scripts into a novelization. Rights to the novel were bought by Darryl F. Zanuck for 20th Century Fox, but never put into production. Director George Stevens formed a company to make the film, and the Technicolor epic was noted for its ensemble cast.

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I'm looking for transcriptions of an Italian language religious program entitled "La Grande Novella con la Maria Maddalena Dell'Aria" (roughly translated: "The Great News with Mary Magdalene of the Air") a Pentecostal broadcast by Marie Carbone (aka "Reverend Mother"). I realize this is probably really obscure, but any leads would be appreciated!

Steve Greene

I am looking for an old time radio preacher named Reverend Stokeham (unsure about spelling, so I spelled it phonetically). I used to listen to him around 7:30 a.m. in the morning when I was getting ready to go to work on a Christian radio station here in south east Florida. If anyone remembers him and his name, I would be grateful to have that information so that I could do a search. He taught me the importance of John, Chapter 17 and the importance of the body of Christ coming together as one. I did not ever realize at the time that I would like to see it happening. To God Be The Glory.

Gail Neer

I am looking for an old radio broadcast between 1960-1980 not sure of the exact dates. The broadcast is from St. John Missionary Baptist Church or St. John Baptist Church located at 2620 N. 5th street in Kansas City Kansas, 66101. The broadcast is of Rev. Patton from the church.

Alice Dove

Who was the preacher whose theme song was “Work for the Night is Coming”?


I am looking for recordings from WBCV, 1550AM, of The Old Time Preacher Man, Evangelist Oden E. Lockhart, from Bluefield, Virginia. He was my father-in-law's uncle and one of the cassettes that he has is from 1992, which would have been late in his radio program career. The cassettes are wearing out and he listens to them every Sunday morning, as he is disabled and cannot get out to go to church. Any leads or help would be so much appreciated!

Jenn Thompmson

I was looking for 70s or early 80s radio christian broadcast in Cincinnati. It only stayed on air for a half hour or an hour. The theme music was most remembered. I believe it came on 10 or 10:30 at night. I don’t remember if it was am or fm. Can you please help me. Thank you

Patricia Trotter

Any documents or broad casts Healing from Heaven Radio Preacher J. C. Bishop on DEl Rio Radio 1945 - Church was in Dallas Texas


I'm trying to remember the name of a white preacher or pastor who used to preach the Bible from his home. Either from his kitchen table or in a rocking recliner and his living room. I used to see it on the Christian network or one of those religious channels and I can't find them in now. You're soft-spoken and a big burly, man.

Tommy B.

Any information on Pastor Thomas Farmer who gave messages on WXGI Radio in Virginia. Probably from around 1965-1979?

Linda Ayers

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