Guest / Limited Access /

Christian talk radio's high-wireless act is soaring. But without strong accountability structures, it could lose its balance.

The defining moment for Christian talk radio happened February 24. In the previous ten days, programs such as James Dobson's Focus on the Family and Marlin Maddoux's Point of View had urged listeners to call congressional representatives to protest a provision in a $12.4 billion federal education bill that could have virtually outlawed home schooling.

Nearly one million callers jammed the House of Representatives' phone lines to protest HR 6. Lawmakers approved an amendment, 424 to 1, that stripped the home-schooling portion of the bill. Thus, Christian radio's small but loyal audience dramatically influenced the political agenda in Washington.

Although the vote was not a watershed event in America's political history, the effective alliance between Christian radio and largely conservative Christian activists may foreshadow their influence on the issues of health-care reform, abortion, and countless other social concerns. With new satellite technology, extensive mailing lists, and phone networks, Christian broadcasters are able to mobilize hundreds of thousands of concerned listeners on short notice.

Christian radio has mushroomed to the extent that it is now the third most-common format on the dial, behind country and adult contemporary. The National Religious Broadcasters Association (NRB) says 1,600 stations—one in ten—have a Christian format, more than two-thirds of them for-profit. Reflecting a trend in the larger culture, talk has become the hottest format in Christian radio, with 15 nationally syndicated shows. The success of pre-eminent talkmeister Rush Limbaugh—heard by up ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedBehind the Scenes with Dwight Eisenhower, Billy Graham, and the Makers of American Civil Religion
Behind the Scenes with Dwight Eisenhower, Billy Graham, and the Makers of American Civil Religion
Kevin Kruse shows the surprising origins of “In God We Trust” and other mainstays of public piety.
TrendingMelinda Gates: ‘I’m Living Out My Faith in Action’
Melinda Gates: ‘I’m Living Out My Faith in Action’
One of the wealthiest and most controversial women in the world believes that all lives have equal value. She’s willing to spend $3.6 billion a year to prove her point.
Editor's PickMeet the Filmmaker Exposing Planned Parenthood
Meet the Filmmaker Exposing Planned Parenthood
How a 26-year-old founded the undercover operation to take down the abortion giant.
Comments
Christianity Today
Making Radio Waves
hide thisAugust 15 August 15

In the Magazine

August 15, 1994

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.