It’s so common, these days, to just get an updated phone. Or TV. Or even computer. And it only takes a fingertip to listen to music…on any or all of those devices. But imagine, if you will, a time when even radio was new. So new, in fact, that most people in America didn’t even have a way to listen to what was beamed out over the airwaves. And that was true of the very first religious broadcast, too.
By accident, I found out the first religious broadcast, in America, was in 1921.
As it just so happens, it was exactly one hundred years ago today (January 2). And it was a remote broadcast from Calvary Presbyterian Church (or Episcopal, depending on who got the story right) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The radio station was KDKA. And they worked with Westinghouse to test out their remote broadcast gear.
And apparently one of the Westinghouse engineers happened to be a member of the choir at the church. So, that had a little to do with the location choice.
But wouldn’t you know it…the senior pastor (aka “fuddy dud”) wasn’t so sure about that newfangled radio thang. So, a junior pastor, Lewis Whittemore, stepped up to the pulpit duties. And someone decided the technicians should wear choir robes so they wouldn’t distract church members.
And I guess it worked out pretty well. Because they broadcast church services from Calvary Presbyterian (or Episcopal), regularly until 1962. Basically 40 years. And from all accounts, the senior pastor didn’t have to worry about radio’s demonic powers after all.
But…is that still true? (cue the eerie laughter)
Well, America has had more religious broadcast programs than any other nation anywhere. And, a lot of those were great for our country.
But not all of them. Not by a long shot.
It took way less than a hundred years to turn those broadcasts into shadows.
But there are still some great ones. And one of them has music from yours truly. So, it’s gotta be great. Right? Yeah, I’m watching you from your device’s camera. So, you better be nodding “yes.”
Well, I just thought I’d drop in and say
How I wish you a musical day.
And how I hope your whole year goes by
Just as smooth as a song through hi-fi.
(or should that be WiFi?)
Get my Rhyme & Reason Podcast delivered (free) right to your device.
Grab yourself an un-cool T-shirt
Or how about some music for kids