Radio in its infancy was considered a huge toy, and by many is still regarded in the same light. Others are willing to admit that there are possibilities in radio, but still consider it as a matter of experiment. But those who have made a careful study of what the radio is actually accomplishing, agree that this is one of the world's greatest means of communication, and to the people commissioned to carry the gospel to all the world in this generation, it presents a tangible aspect of success heretofore undiscovered. While we rejoice in the visible advance which has been made in the proclamation of the gospel, we can but recognize that there must be greater speed than we have ever known, if we are to reach every kindred, tongue, and people in the short space of time which is allotted to us.
Just as truly as the printing press, the telegraph, the telephone, and the various methods of rapid transportation of modern times are recognized as divinely ordained means for the finishing of God's work in the earth, so, I believe, we should recognize in the radio a divinely appointed channel of communication whereby the voice of truth may be broadcast through the air and reach unseen audiences of thousands by frequent and regular appointment, and with very little outlay of means. Radio has demonstrated the shortest method for reaching the largest number of people in a direct way.
The value of radio in the proclamation of the third angel's message is, however, the direct point of interest to us as Seventh-day Adventists, and it is my privilege to speak from the standpoint of radio pastor and director of station WEMC, to which duty I was assigned in October, 1926. A summarization of what is being accomplished through this one station may serve to emphasize the fact that our Master's parable of the sower, recorded in Matthew 13: 3-9, is strikingly fulfilled in the radio broadcast of the gospel seed.
Our Audience.— Basing our deductions upon reliable statistics, we are justified in saying that WEMC has a minimum audience (by this I mean a regular, consistent audience) of about 75,000. Of course our potential audience figures into the millions. I might explain at considerable length how we have received returns from twenty-eight States in a single day, from twenty States in a single mail, and as many as 163 letters in a day, representing sections of our radio audience in such distant points as Hawaii, Cuba, and Porto Rico; but hi referring to the 75,000, I have in mind the people who can always get us with sustained reception, to whom we do not appear as " entertainers " or " freak receptions," but as messengers of the everlasting gospel. This is our only aim.
Our Collections.— It may be of interest to note that during the year 1927, scattered listeners dropped into our " collection plate " the sum of $1,500, and for the first two months _of the present year we received about $250. This indicates that the interest is genuine. Of course our collection plate is an imaginary affair. We simply call attention to our financial needs and invite contributions of any amount to be sent in by mail. After presenting the subject of tithing over the radio, we have received sums of money from people who write that they are convinced of the importance of tithing and wish us to accept their tithe, as they do not know where else to send it.
Our Lighthouse Listeners' League.—Near the close of 1927 we inaugurated this league, and have enrolled many members. The league is composed of those who, in answer to our invitation, write telling us that they are interested in spiritual things and desire to read literature explaining Bible themes. To each member of the League we send a short-term subscription for the Signs of the Times and the Watchman. The names are passed on to the home missionary secretary of the conference or State in which the individuals reside, for further literature and follow-up. We receive thousands of names of people who are truly interested, and a surprisingly large number write us, after receiving the literature, that they wish to belong to the " Radio Lighthouse Church," as they term us. I have been amazed at the interest manifested, and at the nature of the queries which have been sent in. Requests for copies of the radio sermons have literally swamped us. As many as eighty-four requests for a single talk have been received. We have three stenographers on our radio staff, whose services are needed in responding to letters and sending out literature. And yet it is a fact that for every person we hear from, there are a thousand who do not write and yet have been impressed by points of truth.
I believe with all my soul that it is time that we awake to the discovery and use of the potentialities of the radio. We stand on the border of eternity, bearing the divine commission to " preach the gospel " to a perishing world, and yet we have been too largely content to stand still and let the devil utilize and pervert the greatest medium of communication which the world has known and which has been brought into existence in this last hour of earth's history for the speedy warning of earth's inhabitants of impending doom and the refuge which is so freely provided in Christ.
Berrien Springs, Mich.
Before the Microphone
By H. A. Vandeman
1. Be Prepared.—Have all details of program carefully arranged, written down, and every participant in his place before the " green light " flashes on, for when that signal is given, you are then " on the air," and it is not appropriate for the sound of whispering and rustling of papers to greet your audience.
2. Utilize Every Moment.— From your opening greeting until the " good night," keep the microphone constantly vibrating. Do not allow any time to be wasted between numbers. Even a short wait might cut off a hundred listeners who, tuning in late and hearing nothing the moment they listened, pass on to another station.
3. Manner of Speaking.— Brevity, clear enunciation, and modulation are essential. Do not speak in a monotone, but with reasonable voice modulation and appropriate expression. The manner of speaking has much to do in making friends and holding the attention.
4. Program.— The following program, subject to adaptation, has been followed for three years with good results:
" Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen! This is station WCBA, Allentown, Pa., broadcasting the service of ' The Little Church on the Corner '— the Seventh-day Adventist church of Allentown, located at Oak and Poplar Streets. Pastor H. A. Vandeman is speaking.
" Our opening musical number this evening will be a vocal duet by Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Smith, accompanied by Mrs. Cross at the piano. [Rendering.]
" For our Scripture lesson this evening, let us open our Bibles and read from Isaiah fifty-three — the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah [always repeat the text]. [Scripture reading.]
" Let us bow our heads for the evening prayer. [Offer a Spirit-indited prayer, just as if you had ten thousand people bowed in prayer before you. It is possible that that many, and more, may be listening in.] "
Another song announced, giving title and names of singers.
After the song, continue: " This is Station WCBA, Allentown, Pa., continuing the broadcast of the service of ' The Little Church on the Corner.' We read for our text —" [Read text, and preach for fifteen to thirty-five minutes, closing with a brief, earnest prayer.]
Another song. Then follows a ques• tion and answer period of ten to twelve minutes. After this, announce another song, or special instrumental music.
The announcements are now in order, and care should be given to avoid making them too ponderous. Generally there is quite a range of items to be announced. For instance: (a) Bible study or Bible lecture in city or near-by towns, to which radio listeners are especially invited; (b) progress of Bible Year Band; (c) request letters of appreciation, questions, names for literature, location of sick members of the radio audience for pastoral visit; (d) pastor's address and telephone number; (e) the closing announcement should begin somewhat as the introductory remarks of the service giving the station, church, name of pastor, et cetera, and then say:
" This station is now signing off till 7: 15, when the [specify] church on Eighth Street will broadcast their evening service. Good night! "
Observations and Suggestions
By W.E. Barn
One discovery which I have made in connection with radio work is that people readily listen to the testing truths of the third angel's message when presented in a logical and clear manner. As proof of this fact, I refer to my most recent indication of interest. For three Sunday nights I have been presenting over the radio the Sabbath truth, in just as forceful and clear a manner as it would be possible to do were I face to face with my audience, and the entire city is stirred over the matter. Letters are coming in from people who say they are convinced of the truth as presented over the radio. Previous radio talks, on less doctrinal subjects, produced only a very casual interest. From the very first we make prominent in our announcements that it is the Seventh-day Adventist service being broadcast, and give particular attention to indicating the address of studio or church, so as not to miss opportunity for personal contact with interested people who may desire to talk with us. Sometimes the presentation of a subject has created such interest that before we get away from the studio, people are there to talk with us.
Suggestions based on personal experience in radio work are these:
1. Make the radio sermon personal and confidential — as a Bible study given to a few, rather than as a sermon to a large audience. In other words, seek to enter the family circle as an unseen guest.
2. A question box is an interesting feature, provided the radio audience will respond to the request for questions to be submitted. In introducing the question box, it may be necessary to " stuff the box " with thought-pro. yoking questions, until such time as the radio audience grasps the idea and becomes enthusiastic in its favor.
3. In testing the range and quality of a radio audience, it is a good plan to put on a test program of favorite hymns, asking that requests for favorite hymns be telephoned in. When answering the telephone, be sure that the name and address is secured. If the city is not too large, it is possible to make an accurate check of the radio audience in this way. I have found the requests so numerous that there is time for nothing else during the radio hour. At the close of the program, it should be announced that the songs called for but which have not been sung, will be given the following week. From the addresses furnished with the requests, it is possible to determine what class of people are listening in.
4. Be ready to supply free literature on every subject presented. Announce that the literature will be sent to all who mail request to a specified address. Usually it is best to suggest that requests be mailed to the Radio Station, because that address is most easily remembered.
Applied Art in Evangelism
By J. Lowell Butler
The careful folding of a napkin was not beneath the office of the Master, even after His victory over death. It is the spirit and the purpose we put into everything that make each act a credit or a formal routine. Art alone can never accomplish the saving from sin of a single life; but as an instrument in the hands of love, reverence, and skill, guided by the wisdom and power of the Spirit, there are no limits to its usefulness in God's work of saving lost souls. If it can attract and give a right impression, it has done a great work. But it can do more.
I once observed a good illustration of what results from giving little or no thought to making a tent look attractive, and what happens when people are made to realize that you have something worth hearing. An experienced evangelist and his capable assistants pitched their tent in a good residential section of a thriving city. A poor sign done on oilcloth was hung on the side of the new khaki tent, so as to be visible from the main street. Inside, the rostrum was all finished in dark colors, mostly with burlap. At the close of the series no baptism was held.
In another town the same tent was pitched, and the same evangelist gave the same lectures, But the workers built a new rostrum, constructed an attractive entrance with a string of electric lights on it, erected two electrically lit blackboards measuring four by seven feet, and constructed a light frame for the top of the evangelist's car for display advertising which, used in the business section of the city, attracted much attention. The result was that the people had their interest aroused. Colporteurs all know how important is this first great essential. And when the series of lectures was completed, there were about thirty candidates for baptism.
The standard of many evangelists is plenty of white and plenty of light in platform decorations. In the best arrangements, the lights about the platform are properly shaded to prevent any glare in the eyes of the audience, but at the same time they should flood with light the pulpit, the piano, and the choir.
Thought should be given to the general color scheme. Some very good combinations are as follows: (1) green burlap and white woodwork; (2) white plaited cloth and green burlap, with white painted woodwork; (3) lightly tinted beaver board (plaster board which does not warp), in such colors as light blue, light orange, light green, cream, etc., with white woodwork paneling. The selection of paints for interior decorative work is usually confined to the " flat finish " paints.
If more thought is given to the literature counter or table, the public will notice it more often, and the sales will materially increase. It should be in keeping with other decorations, and provision should be made for posters and for ample lighting about them.
Recognizing the value of dignified outdoor advertising of an evangelist series, some time ago I made a number of billboards which measured eight by sixteen feet in size. They were real oil paintings, and were superior in appearance to those usually seen along the highways. Each billboard had a blackboard two by four feet in size, which slid in and out of a frame so that it could be turned over or exchanged for a newly lettered one, on which was advertised each evening's lecture.
Billboard advertising is both effective and economical. It is easy to spend $100 in newspaper advertising for the first week only; but a billboard can be put up for about $25, or four for $100, and it may be built in sections for easy shipping. Think of the number of days for which this expenditure is good. It is better than newspaper advertising in quality and quantity and cost.
San Fernando, Calif.