Fresh from the internship ! "Yes, sir, it's the air for me. I'm going to have my own program. It's going to be different. That's the first must."
Thus the enthusiastic pastor appointee tells his fellows at an early workers' meeting that he is out to put on topnotch broadcasts that will get the dials tuned in and the interest keyed up. Let us see how he goes about it.
First he sees the local station about the schedules across the board. Deftly the sales manager shows a fill up on sustaining time. The preacher points out what an excellent thing a good religious program can be as a public service feature. "But we are holding religious programs for Sunday," counters the catchy salesman, "and we are top heavy on that now." (He means top heavy on mediocre stuff, but he doesn't want to hurt the enthusiastic broadcaster-to-be.) Class A time is out. Class B might be a possibility a little later on. Class C only is available—time so early folks haven't stretched an eyelid yet, or so late that only broken-up cocktail parties venture to dial. And they want dance music, not a preacher.
To do all things necessary to get on the air? He's for it. An early Sunday morning program. He'll have it so interesting that the first listeners will crusade for his as the first, best, and only.
But wait. The program director asks to hear a transcription of his program. Not available yet, but he will have one the first of next week. With audition disc promised, and a polite "good day" from the station potentate, our would-be preacher of the air waves takes off for home and study.
Once in his car and homeward bound there is new determination in everything he does. Accelerator, steering wheel, and brake feel the firmness of new pressure—a master touch. Typewriter keys bounce with new life.
Our religious broadcaster convinces his wife, the young people's society, and the church board that for less than ten dollars he can get a fine transcription cut of the type of program he intends to put on. So he sells them on the idea of support and offering. This way he assures them it won't be necessary to ask the conference for an appropriation. People catch the fire. Musical talent, trained and latent, is summoned. The first rehearsal leaves the preacher jittery but hopeful. A few more ends to tie before the dress and actual cut. Script is given final polish and cues are marked. Timing is split second. The fact is that this program is built around the preacher's best and favorite sermon theme. But when preached, it never had such predelivery shine. The blank transcription gets the grooves. From recording studio to broadcasting studio, Evangelist Ambitious totes his potential atom.
The true story sequence nobody knows, not even we. But a thirteen-week contract seems mutually agreeable for a fair Sunday quarter hour. The first program is put on just as it was originally recorded—only live. Slight differences in announcement are the only changes. All else goes as previously rehearsed. The church listens in on that grand Sunday. They are proud of their pastor and his good organization. What natural ease! What good diction! Preacher of the air goes home, relishes a tasty meal served by a proud wife. He relaxes—and that's where our story takes to the minor key.
Then, oh, then, what happens? Somehow he never gets back in fighting form to his pristine presentation. The second broadcast suffers from rehearsal that is a day late. The third broadcast does not even get a rehearsal. The script for the fourth broadcast is finished fifteen minutes before airing. The fifth isn't even finished. The sixth week one of the musicians gets laryngitis. But that will not ruin another program, because our "mikester" has decided in favor of recorded selections from the transcription library. The conference president calls a workers' meeting on Sunday morning during the seventh week, and there is a time conflict for the broadcaster. A hurried transcription comes to the rescue. The following Sunday's program is neglected in favor of a new evangelistic series to open that very night. True, announcements and invitations are given over the air, but the equality of the program has declined. Instead of prepared script, book reading is the easier way out. Now less than a prophet is needed to tell what happens between this and the termination of the thirteen-week program contract. Station desire for renewal of this religious quarter hour is never expressed. In fact, the station announces a new policy of nonrenewal for religious program contracts.
Somebody beside our broadcaster must now save face. He's too busy, says he, to carry on such an intensive program. As for the conference president, he says he's not convinced that local broadcasting pays, forgetting that there are some excellent programs given by ministers in other conferences, with real Adventist baptisms resulting.
Just what is the responsibility of leaders in our radio work? We must encourage our men of radio conviction to...
Count the Cost—the cost of station time, the cost of personal effort and time to produce high grade broadcasts, and programs of professional quality and continuity.
Plan for Broadcasts that preach the message wtih a man-in-the-street appeal—presentations that grip. We believe that each one of the twenty-two fundamental beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists, as given on pages 4, 5, and 6 of the Yearbook, can be adapted to radio presentation. Courage and discretion are needed for a production like this. Who will be the first to tackle such an adventure in radio ministry? Send the Radio Commission that transcription or completed script. Here's a service of inestimable value.
Encourage Our Educators to offer praccal radio courses in radio speech, writing, and production. If men have to be trained for church and tabernacle preaching, the need for preaching inspirationally via the microphone pulpit is paramount.
Go From Microphone to Home.—Then, conference administrators, let's ask our conference committees to study means for releasing workers to follow up interests. Yes, the Bible correspondence schools can do an excellent initial work here. But, as yet, there has never been developed a substitute for personal visitation and Bible readings. Workers must be freed to take on radio interests. Laymen must be qualified before they are entrusted with these responsibilities. Let us consider the microphone as the entering wedge—a spiritual awakener. It does not baptize any more than does a book or a magazine article. However, it will cause men to cry out, as of old, "Men and Brethren, what must we do to be saved?" Let's have the workers ready to bring that answer. This is a matter for study that rightly appears on conference committee agendas.
Honestly Appraise.—Let's be honest about this radio ministry. The glamour is soon faded if entertainment is our aim. Compelling conviction should be our motive. Hold with us here, ministers ! Our song and sermon, plot and story, must be Bible centered, to save.
Show Frank Concern.—Our men in radio should be frankly concerned as to where poorly thought out radio plans will lead. There's a warning sign on the horizon to religious broadcasters who indulge mediocrity. Heed it we must.