On January 2, 1921, the Sunday-evening service of Calvary Episcopal Church was broadcast on KDKA, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was the first religious broadcast to be sent out over a commercial station. Letters and phone calls poured in, most of them highly compliementary.
“And religious broadcasting,” related Dr. Eugene R. Bertermann, president of National Religious Broadcasters, in an address commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the KDKA program, “then spread rapidly.” Although most Christians believed in the potential of the new medium for spreading the Gospel, there were a few doubters. Some questioned the propriety of invading the sanctity of a sanctuary with a microphone.
Last month, at NRB’s twenty-eighth annual convention in Washington, D. C., there were still some doubters. None, of course, questioned the use of radio and television for religious programming (there are now about 250 religious radio stations in the United States, about 150 of which are NRB affiliates, and two Christian television stations; other applications are pending). Today’s doubters are those who disapprove of “sainted stations” using rock music as an idiom for transmitting the Gospel to teens who are turned on to the beat sound but turned off to staid religion.
The communications gap—it appeared mostly between the younger NRB members and the oldsters—was visible early and remained largely unbridged during the three days of workshops, speeches, and presentations.
The Youth Programming Seminar the first night started the debate off in high gear when a dozen Christian disc jockeys had their say about what is reaching—and not reaching—the now generation.
Disapproving tongue-clucking was audible as Dr. John Broger, director of the U.S. Armed Forces ...1
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