Since most time on the air is rather expensive, it is quite important for our workers who have limited budgets to give study to methods of securing what is called "free time." This is time for broadcasting that is available without financial expense. Many of the smaller stations have free time planned for devotional periods each morning. These periods are allocated to the various churches of the city. The arrangement varies in different towns, but here in Oklahoma- we were able to use fifteen minutes each week without cost at Ponca City. In Muskogee one church has charge of the fifteen-minute morning devotional period several mornings in succession, and then drops out for a time while other churches take it. At Ardmore fifteen minutes is obtainable every second week.
Of course, the way to get this share of free time is to ask for it. And since it is often easier to hold free time, once it is obtained, than to secure it anew, it is best not to release it unless absolutely necessary. The station managers are very jealous for the reputation of the station they operate, because its very existence depends upon this. It is therefore well to explain to them the type of program planned, even though they may not ask for this information.
Cues for Effective Use
The way you utilize this free time determines its continuance and may mean free access to more of it over other stations. If your program is good, the station manager will, upon request, be glad to write a good recommendation of your program to the manager of another station. This is a decided help. As to using the time in the best way, I offer these suggestions:
1. Prepare thoroughly for the program, filling every minute with interesting material.
2. Write out your talk and rehearse reading it until it sounds as if it were being given extemporaneously.
3. Time the whole program while rehearsing it.
4. Be dependable. Be ready to start on time and stop on time. If you are not prompt, your free time will probably be given to someone else.
5. The music on the program is important. If acceptable talent cannot be secured, use good records. They are better than songs poorly sung.
6. Use a prayer during the service, plan for it, and do not make it too long. I know of one free devotional program from which Seventh-day Adventists were cut off because the minister disregarded this rule.
7. Do not cough or clear your throat near the microphone. Every sound will be caught and sent out on the air.
8. Remember that the only impression someone may get of Seventh-day Adventists may come from hearing you on the radio. So be careful. Our reputation is at stake.
I believe that certain laymen can be taught to use the time on the radio profitably, under supervision. Once when I was aiding in the Ingathering work and had to go elsewhere, I left the broadcast in charge of a lay brother. Under such circumstances it is well to suggest a series of studies, perhaps reading parts of chapters from "Steps to Christ" each time.
There are several other methods that have been employed by evangelists in using the radio without cost to themselves or to the conference. One evangelist, when starting a large, well-advertised effort, found that the station signed off for the day, at about the time his meeting began. Because his meetings were of public interest, the station permitted him to broadcast each Sunday-night meeting during his series. This was free of charge, except for the cost of installing remote control. His broadcasts materially helped the attendance at the meetings.
The "Bible question-and-answer box" period has been used by some as free time. The public is invited to send in Bible questions to be answered. This is sponsored by the station and offers a good opportunity to give many of the important aspects of the message. Another way of utilizing free time is in commenting on the news of the day. The Watchman, Liberty, and Signs of the Times, offer excellent helps in such programs.
Not long ago while listening to my radio in Muskogee, I heard a, program called the "Town Crier." In this program, interspersed with music, were given announcements of civic clubs, churches, etc., free of charge. We decided to send in an announcement of our evangelistic meetings. It cost us nothing, and they announced it each time we sent it in. There are vast possibilities in the use of the radio of which we have not been taking full advantage.