Since before the days of Lester Roloff, fundamentalists have been fascinated with the medium of radio. Churches of the fundamentalist old-school will actually own their own radio station but others will at least buy time on a local station to let the managawd’s sermons be spread far and wide.

As is their custom, fundamentalists must spare no cost to provide an approved alternative to all the godless programming that congests the airwaves. This is mostly justified as “outreach”, although who exactly other than a fundamentalists will consent to listen to the usual fundy radio fare is not exactly clear.

A church’s radio station is actually a pretty good way to figure out exactly what camp they are in.

– If the people sing like they’re a hundred years old and chronically depressed it’s one of the BJU family of churches.

– If the people sound like young men and women who are so excited and happy that they may experience spontaneous combustion at any moment, you’re enjoying the sounds of PCC-style broadcasting.

– If the music sounds like neutered Southern Gospel and frequently stops for interludes of preaching that sound like the speaker is trying to inflict as much damage as possible on his vocal chords, you’re somewhere in the Hyles spectrum.

If you too would like to enjoy a trip down fundy lane, you can check out all kinds of fundamentalists programming from stations like WOEL, Rejoice Radio, and the Fundamental Broadcast Network.

It’s enough to make you wish that Marconi had invented something else — like, say, a better earplug.

92 thoughts on “Radio”

  1. My dad likes to listen to the Bob Jones radio station on his computer! I am happy that I now feel free to listen to joyful praise and worship like “Revelation Song”!!! My newest fav is “Lift up your face! Salvation is calling!” from Third Day. Chris Slight’s “Only You Can Save” is also very convicting.

    As you said, I’m not sure if anyone who’s not fundy is listening to these stations.

    1. Sligh! Chris Sligh! I won’t blame this one on George but on the three year old screaming at me in the background.

      1. Chris Sligh actually went to PCC I believe, he came and led worship at the launch of our church in March. I like his music.

        1. Chris Sligh left PCC the semester before I got there. Do you go to Scott Blanchard’s church in Michigan? I know Chris led worship there as well, but I don’t remember when that happened.

  2. in the BJU dorms, you were only safe using WBJU or WMUU if you used the “radio alarm” function on your clock. it was bizarre being woken up by the sound of bob jones, sr. yelling in your ear.

    1. Too true! Not how I wanted to wake up! I blessed my parents when they got me a radio/tape player with an alarm function that would play a TAPE when it was time to wake up! I could play Vivaldi – a vast improvement over Dr. Bob Sr.!

    2. Eons and eons ago, when I lived and worked at a certain site in Pensacola, our alarm clock went off one morning blasting the radio. It happened to be tuned to WPCS, and the audio kicked on (at max volume) just as Ms. Thornton kicked out an apocalyptic high note in a very operatic style.

      The transcript would have looked something like this:

      5:59.59am (silence)
      6:00.01am (sound of hand thumping around feeling for mute button)
      6:00.03am (sound of hand *desperately* feeling for mute button)
      6:00.05am (WHACK)
      6:00.06am ~uuuuuuuhh~

  3. A local Christian station looms large in my childhood memories, but while I played all the great Saturday morning stuff–“Ranger Bill,” “Adventures in Odyssey”–it broadcast from an Assemblies of God college and was not otherwise Fundy in the least. I remember anxiety among the station’s listeners in our church as the station’s music programming became more and more “rock-y.”

    And regarding Mr. Marconi, I must direct your attention to this comic strip:

    1. I’m trying to cut back. I may have to Join Reformers Unanimous at the local Fundie Mothership in order to overcome this addiction…. Maybe get involved in a Bus Ministry while I’m at it, or maybe just get a sandwich board and walk the streets downtown declaring the end of the world… Sooo, little time and sooo little motivation. 😕

      1. Ooh Ooh Which one? Where your kids used to attend school and where Tony Hutson makes a yearly appearance?

        1. Yeah that would be the closest. But I could always attend GLBC’s after work… Either one will probably want me to cut my hair and shave my face. …I won’t be doing either of those until June for the kids’ graduation. But after that I’ll start re-growing everthing until the 7 yr old graduates.

  4. I think WMUU plays some muzak-y kinda things that don’t check. At least, that’s what somebody said on FB once.

    1. Yep, we were told that just because it was WMUU didn’t mean that the music automatically checked. We had to evaluate each song on its own merit.

      Thankfully no one I knew at BJU actually listened to the station. Would’ve driven me mad.

    2. That’s now… In it’s inception, WMUU was just another BJU mouthpiece.

      WMUU = World’s Most Unusual University (BJU’s original slogan)

    3. WMUU used to play old radio serials on Friday Nights (along with Patch the Pirate and other Christian story telling programs). It was cool to hear X Minus One or The Six Shooter or Sargeant Preston (and his dog, King). I don’t think they do that anymore.

  5. I had the same thing growing up and I remember those Saturday mornings. I loved Adventures in Odyssey. But of course people at my church always lamented how “rocky” the stations were becoming.

  6. So I always wondered why this same compulsion didn’t trickle down into TV. I mean I understand the startup costs are way higher, actually all the costs are way higher, but still why video/tv seems completely left blank is beyond me. I kind of wonder if it is because of when the radio became popular compared to TV.

    You know the saying:

    1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;

    2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;

    3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.
    -Douglas Adams

    1. That saying TOTALLY makes me laugh! It’s so unfortunately true! (Of course I’m definitely over 30 so I’m trying to not become a reactionary “old person”! LOL)

      I definitely think both those things play into it: Radio = popular when I was a kid; it’s OK while TV = new, thus worldly and not OK. However, I think the financial issue is huge. A lot of fundy churches will put SOME money into things, but not a lot. So a “reasonable” amount of money could be spent on a radio program, but a TV program would seem like a wasteful expenditure, especially because that money could be going to missionaries! Some churches are quite “thrifty” (to the point of running off all music instead of buying the books) or keeping the same carpet/curtains/hymnals for 60 years so they would totally balk at the expense of television. Effectiveness doesn’t matter to them; remember these are the same people still going door to door as if it were the 1950s. When we first came to this church, the deacons didn’t want to take out an ad in the yellow pages; it was too expensive. They said all we needed to advertise was our church sign! 😯

      1. When we first came to this church, the deacons didn’t want to take out an ad in the yellow pages; it was too expensive.

        We had that same fight in our deacon board in my little fundy church.

        They thought that church’s shouldn’t advertise at all. When I asked how people were going to find out that we existed, they kind of shrugged and mumbled something about God sending people when He was ready.

        (that church no longer exists, fwiw)

        1. “… that church no longer exists …”

          God’s not ready yet.

          My church actually had a fight about putting up a new sign. The old wooden sign had been hand-made by a member who was very attached to it. The problem was that nobody could see it, especially at night. Although our church was on a major thoroughfare, hardly anybody knew it was there. Guest preachers would show up halfway through the service because they had been searching all over the area for the church.

    2. Some of them do. One IFB church I attended down here now has not only radio but TV and Internet broadcasts! Of course they have 1000+ members now, so I hear, trying to pay their way into heaven so they can afford it easily.

      1. Since we didn’t have a TV growing up, I remember spending my Sunday afternoons listening to those programs. Adventures in Oddesey really didn’t come around til the late 80’s, so all of those other programs were left overs from the 50’s.

    1. When my husband and I were first married, we lived off campus. Being Moody students, we tried to listen to WMBI. It was either incredibly depressing (all the organ music sounded like dirges), or so sickeningly sweet we had to gag. I’ve pretty much sworn off Christian radio since then.

      1. boymom – you must have gone there awhile ago…they updated their music back in the early 90’s. Sounds like you were listening to Bob Murphin and morning clock…. ah the joys of the 80s

        1. Rob, come visit me in the RGV (Rio Grande Valley). If the world ends, we won’t hear about it here for at least another 10 years.

        2. Oh, we have beaches nearby too.
          As the Austin Lounge Lizards sing about Texas, “Our rattlesnakes are the coiliest, and our beaches are the oiliest.”

        3. Oh..I knew it. I’ve gone over to the dark side and missed the rapture.
          Thanks Darrell, I was warned about people and places like this..
          If my former fundy logic still works right that would make you a candidate for the anti christ

        4. “If so, anyone know a good beach vacation spot where the water won’t be blood this summer?”

          You’re good just about anywhere for another 3 1/2 years.

        5. Good call on the 3.5 years of peace. Prob should start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan & Iraq. Gonna need all of them in prime fighting shape for about 7 years from now.

  7. My senior pastor (non-Fundy church) says that if you’re twirling the radio dial and come across a Christian station (any kind, including CCM), you can always tell immediately that it’s a Christian station because the music sounds so much more amateurish than on any other station.

    1. That and I’d say the music is always more stifled. This is actually a pretty big reason why I don’t listen to much CCM at all. I listen to tons of stuff across a very wide spectrum. Eclectic is an understatement, but CCM is almost non-existant. Why? Because it all sounds stale to me. Either they are just pop hacks and wannabes or worse. Not that any of that doesn’t have a place and not that there aren’t great bands or music being made. There certainly is, but on a whole as a genre an coming from a music major I want more! So instead I fill my listening time with other things, with artists that truly are innovative.

      I’ve wondered if the style reflects the artists or if they fear going too far out of the norm. If they feel like being too innovative or too “edgy” that they might be looked down upon for some religious reason? This is certainly true coming from BJU. You had to stick to certain chord progressions and certain stylistic characteristics or risk being ostracized because you are too radical. I’ve gotta imagine that happens even in CCM. Oh the freedom the secular world has! No one judges you for stylistic choices…and that is how it should be.

      1. My husband says that about some CCM, but I’ve never noticed that partly because although I play the piano, I’ve never had true music training and also because the only music I listened to for most of my life was classical (which I still love), a little non-rock oldies (like “Moon River”), and hymns. Coming from that background, CCM is vibrant and passionate and enjoyable.

    2. CCM is nice.

      I was fortunate enough to have a good English teacher in Fundy high school. She told us back then that nice rarely is actually a good thing.

      Dude, those pants look nice. (Time to get new pants).

  8. My veterinarian plays a “Cristian Contemporary” music station in his clinic. The lyrics are mostly OK, but the instrumental parts drive me up a wall. They are so insipid I want to barf.

    I’m not saying there’s no good CCM (I haven’t listened to enough of it to be a good judge of that), but if there is, that station doesn’t play much of it.

      1. A doctor can only figure out problems with humans (at most). A vet is way more versatile, can find and fix cats, birds, dogs, horses, etc. I’ll take my chances w/ the vet! (Stolen & adapted from Kramer)

  9. It also is used con the sheeple to believe that they are still revelant to the local society. Never mind that only members of the church listen to it, and only long enough to say that they do if asked.
    The fundy church I left taught that CCM was sin. The local christian station started broadcasting it some time ago. The only station in range still broadcasting traditional christian music was Harold Camping’s station. Even fundies avoid him. It was a slippery slope from there. Goodbye fundyland 😀

    1. I’m wondering what is going to happen to Harold Camping’s station in a few months. Does anyone there have any plans to continue after May 11? (Or is it May 21? I haven’t been paying very close attention.) Or will they all just suddenly be out of jobs then?

  10. I still remember as a young boy listening to “Unshackled” with my dad in the car as we drove back from some church service somewhere and literally having the hell scared out of me…

      1. Oh my! Our local BBFI-owned station still airs “Unshackled” AND Roloff. Lester comes on the air at 6:00 AM–just as I’m leaving for work. About the time I pull into the parking lot he’s going on about men with long hair and cigarette smoking. It’s priceless!

  11. KCET in Corpus Christi is still on the air. As a young Christian in the Seventies — and moving into Sword of the Lord fundamentalism –, I’d listen to it going to and from work. It was a mixed bag, though, as I recall that J. Vernion McGee and Lester Roloff were mainstays but Jimmy Swaggart also had his daily program on the station. I would bet that Bro. Roloff is still posthumously broadcast on KCET.
    I remember, too, when KVMV was started as the Rio Grande Valley’s first Christian station. The tagline for the call letters was “The King’s Voice for the Magic Valley.” The term “magic valley” is an old Chamber of Commerce invention from the early Twentieth Century that was coined to promote the Rio Grande Valley of Texas as a winter vacation destination — “a tropical paradise.” However, lots of folks at my church were appalled at the use of the word “magic” in conjunction with a so-called “Christian” radio station. They saw satanic influences at work. In the early 1980s, a guy started a rival Christian station with KJAV as its call letters. It was, of course, for the promotion of the 1611 AV and was aimed at countering the CCM (Gaithers, Clawson, even Keith Green!) being played on KVMV. KJAV demised and KVMV lives on but doesn’t play Switchfoot or MuteMath.

  12. At the mere mention of “Unshackled,” there’s a knot in my stomach. WGUN 1010 AM “the big (gospel) gun” used to air it here in Atlanta, but that station has since gone to CCM. My parents listened to old recordings of their broadcasts when I was a child. Even as when I was a kid, I could never understand why a broadcast titled “Unshackled” could insight so much fear and dread in me about well, everything. Though on WGUN all the big names in the area got pretty equal air time, Stone Mountain Baptist Tabernacle (where we attended), Peoples Baptist Church (where my Mom attended before she met and married my Dad). Very many very LOUD fear inducing voices that still haunt my nightmares.

  13. I am not making this up: I did the voice-over work on our church’s radio slot, and my pastor insisted that we promote our “deaf ministry” on our radio program. 😯

    1. Must have been one of them faith-healin’ types…you know…if you’re deaf…put your ear up to the radio…and feeeeeel da power of Gawd….out demons of deafness! out I tell you!

      1. I say if someone who needs braille gets that far, they should be able to get anything they want off the menu, for free.

    2. Most deaf people have hearing relatives and friends, so it’s not that stupid to announce programs for the deaf on the radio, just as schools for the blind usually have written signs on them. Also, some people who are mostly deaf can hear a radio if you turn the volume up loud enough.

      1. Actually, BG, that’s the solution I came up with. I simply said, “Deaf friends will enjoy our special ministry to the hearing impaired” or something like that. (No one ever came as a result, but at least I complied.)

  14. Since I had read this post, I decided while I was out and about today to listen to our local IFB station. Here are my observations:

    1. They must be about a 2 watt station because unless you are very close to the station, you cannot pick them up.
    2. Most of the singing was done by adolescent females all singing soprano–it was “touching.”
    3. Even more touching was the castrati quartet singing “Nothing but the Blood.”
    4. They are a proud part of the FBN.
    5. A pastor from Central Baptist Ocala came on. The only thing I remember from his message was the following: “You don’t hear people say this much any more but people used to say ‘I don’t feel like I’ve been to church unless the preacher steps on my toes.” Now they say, “I don’t feel like I’ve been to church if I come away feeling good about myself.” He proceeded from there to let those who want to feel good know that they are terribly deceived.

    Oh, yes, now I remember why I never listen to that station!

  15. Darrell, btw, You still got “Since the before the days” which I’m pretty sure should be either “Since the days” or “Before the days” at the beginning of this post.

      1. Everybody’s a critic – It’s gettin kinda hectic
        My rhyme is authentic, so it shall remain
        My writing exciting, never mundain
        In actuality, my personality
        Keeps my mentality based on real
        Life situations, not speculations
        But verbal illustrations of how I feel

  16. Having a strong background in ‘secular’ radio, I find any Christian radio station unlistenable based on production value alone, and CCM unlistenable because it is so cheesy (karaoke grade instrumentation). I have always found it hard to listen to religious programming on the radio not because of my beliefs; but because they are either, on one extreme, too warm & fuzzy or, on the other, too screaming and yelling.

  17. Sigh..I knew it was going to happen. I now have to separate from Darrell and this board since I am firmly in the Tesla camp when it comes to who invented the radio.
    I believe that Marconi was a fraud and a thief who stole the idea for the radio from Tesla. Anyone who disagrees with me is an infidel.

  18. Good old FBN, where you can hear dead guys preach, along with other men-o-gawd who got their learning in a church basement Bible college. Some of them are quite funny actually.

  19. I actually was an on-air personality on a Christian radio station for a number of years.

    I had the Saturday morning shift right out of high school, and occassionally covered Sunday church services as well. While not as bad as a BJU or a PCC, I was still the rebel of the group whom many distrusted (except the station manager and one or two other employees), using the sound equipment after hours to play secular records such as U2’s Under a Blood Red Sky (which, once when I was giving a tour of the station to a local boy scout troup, one of the dads told me he at that historic Red Rocks show). Sadly, most of the programming on Saturday morning was B-grade kids fare, not even up to Adventures in Odyssey level (AiO was too liberal).

    Once, we brought in the general and station managers of the largest Christian station in town to do a critique of our station. Their findings clearly showed that we were clearly only popular in the 65 plus age demographic and mildly popular in the 30-45 female demographic (due to children progamming). And per the fundy mindset, they were mildly shocked that Christians weren’t listening to the true Christian radio station and programming. 😀

    Honestly I miss working in radio, and I miss working for WCTS. They have a new general manager now whom many say has worsened the station, so I know I’m no longer even remotely welcomed there, despite being warmly greeted by old coworkers whenever I stop in. I honestly want the station to thrive, to change, to see reform come to, and I’m still young enough to believe I have better answers than those old fundies with wisdom.

    And that’s the problem with most of fundamentalism. We honestly care about them, and want them to change, but those things we want to change are what they consider utterly life giving, while we see as destructive. A deep level of change is needed, one we cannot bring without God’s help. Some will change, others tragically won’t.

    The coolest part of working in radio though was having truckers come up to me when I was working at a pizza restaurant and telling me they recognized my voice from radio…

    Plus it looks good on a resume! 😀

  20. Ventriloquist Edgar Bergen once had a radio show. I was told you could never see his lips move. 🙄

    1. I actualy heard that show, in re-runs, on a local radio station.

      Ventriloquism on the radio is kind of like doing finger shadows on the radio.

  21. I know I’m late to this thread (found it in a random post link) but I had to leave a comment.

    I listened to WOEL all the time when I was a kid and my grandfather’s church operated the local repeater frequency. One was 89.9 and the other was 90.7 but I forget which was which.

    The church that my parents attend has an FBN radio station and my brother does a lot of the station work and my father does some as well. Not a station I would listen to on any type of frequent basis.

  22. Way back when I lived in Charleston there was one rinky-dink station waaay at the left end of the dial and every evening when I checked it out there was this call-in show with this one preacher who was forever getting upset over speaking in tongues. Every other question seem to lead back to this subject, and it was amazing how many callers wanted to talk about it, or better yet, challenge him on it. I never did figure out what was so EVUL about Speaking In Tongues though he was often so upset you could barely understand him. 🙄
    He didn’t believe in divorce either. For ANY reason.
    It was a weird little station and I still kind of miss it. 🙂

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