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Archives / 1946 / April

 

Bible Story Program for Children

Paul H. Eldridge

 

In the field of religious radio programs, there is one promising feature which has not as yet received much attention. This is Bible stories for children. Programs of highly dramatized Scriptural incidents, often drawing largely on imagination or fiction, are occasionally heard. But there is a real place on the air for the vivid and accurate telling of straight Bible stories in a way that will capture and hold the interest of children.

Just now is an opportune time. Parents are impatient with the current brand of hair-raising tales which are so common on children's programs, and station managers and program directors will listen with interest to proposals for a more up lifting type of broadcast. By way of illustra tion, I wish to cite our experience in Manila, Philippines, during the months just before the war.

After arrangements had been completed with KZRM, Radio Manila, for the inauguration of our Sunday evening Bible prophecy program, known as "God Behind the Headlines," I discussed the possibility of a children's broadcast with the production manager of the station. He was in terested at once. After giving the matter careful consideration, he scheduled the children's Bible story program for eight-thirty Sunday morning over KZRF, an affiliated station. This was the hour that I had chosen. The program was called "Storytime With Uncle Paul," and went on the air as a sustaining feature one week after our evening broadcast began.

In order not to antagonize the Catholic audience, the word Bible was not used in the program title. The stories were announced as coming from "the best book in all the world." I followed the plan of telling one complete story and one installment of a continued story each week. The fall of Jericho, raising of the daughter of Jairus, the call of Samuel, etc., were each told completely in one program, requiring about five minutes. The stories of David, Joseph, and Esther were covered in weekly installments, with about five minutes for each chapter. With these continued stories a few minutes would be spent at the close of the broad cast building up interest in the next week's in stallment. Vivid titles helped create an interest; as, for instance, "Slingshot, Sword, and Scepter" for the story of David, and "Beautiful and Brave" for the story of Queen Esther.

Various devices were utilized to get a response from the children who listened. A club was started, called Uncle Paul's Radio Story Club, and all were invited to become members. All that was neces sary was to send in name and address, with age and birthday of the prospective member. A but ton marked "Radio Story Club" and a 3" x 5" card, printed neatly as a certificate and signed by "Uncle Paul," were sent to each member. Every week the names of new, members were read on the air. A careful record was kept of each child, with the date of his birthday. As these birthdays came around, the names were read over the air, followed by the playing of "Happy Birthday to You."

When the story of "Slingshot, Sword, and Scepter" had been completed, we had a letter-writing contest on "What I Admire Most About David." Later on we featured "Safety," and offered a little ribbon on which was printed "Safety First" to all who asked for it.

From the very beginning this Bible story pro gram met with a gratifying response from the children. When membership in the club reached five hundred, we announced a studio party in cele bration. About ninety children showed up at the radio station by eight o'clock on Sunday morning. We had an interesting little party with them, and when eight-thirty came, they were studio audience for the regular "Storytime" broadcast. The club membership continued to grow, until the arrival of the Japanese put an end to our radio work. Then there were more than six hundred children enrolled.

The radio station was very much pleased with this Bible-story broadcast. On two different occasions it refused to sell our time to commercial interests. One Sunday morning when we arrived at the station we found another group in the studio, planning to go on the air with a sponsored' program at the time for our broadcast. They had been scheduled by mistake, and when the announcer called the production manager on the telephone, he gave orders for our program to go on as usual. Just before the war broke out, this man promised to shift us to KZRM, a more important station, and give us a half hour on Sunday morning instead of fifteen minutes.

Our last broadcast of "Storytime With Uncle Paul" came on Sunday morning, December 28, 1941. For nearly ten months these Bible stories had been bringing to hundreds of children their first taste of the Word of God. Who can tell how far reaching the results of this endeavor will be?

Anyone attempting this type of program should not only have a fondness and burden for children, but should thoroughly enjoy telling them stories. In addition, the following may be found helpful:

1. A pleasing and friendly voice.

2. A background of friendly contact with the radio station management.

3. Assistance of a good pianist or organist to provide little interludes for breaks in time sequence, etc., as the stories are being told.

4. A catchy theme song. "Brighten the Corner Where You Are" is a good example.

5. Features which not only interest the chil dren but also win the approval of parents and teachers.

If in addition to their interest in the stories, the children could be led to enroll in a Bible study course such as the Voice of Prophecy Junior Correspondence Course, positive results in the way of conversions and baptisms would surely follow. Certainly God's blessing will attend every earnest effort to reach children with the gospel story.

 

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