About two years ago Mr. and Mrs. Jay Clymer conceived the idea of a story hour each Sabbath afternoon for the benefit of the neglected children in neighboring communities. Such gatherings were intended not merely as a means of entertainment but as something more vital—a program that would bring Jesus very near to each little heart. Other laymen were invited to assist in this missionary enterprise by way of stories, music, surprise features, and Bible quizzes. In a short time the places of meeting were filled with eager boys and girls not of our faith.
From this project grew the idea of a radio broadcast. The home station, WHFB, Benton Harbor, Michigan, had recently refused some forty local requests; but upon learning the nature of this new undertaking, "aiming to make the boys and girls of today better men and women tomorrow." the management heartily endorsed our endeavors and offered as a public service a thirty-minute period each Sunday.
On September 58, 5949, the Story Hour celebrated its twenty-sixth birthday, twenty-six weeks of being on the air. In that time the program has spread by transcription to four additional stations in Michigan and Indiana. Negotiations are under way now to add three new stations to those already giving the program.
The Story Hour endeavors to bring to children character-building stories from the Bible and from life. The format of the program centers around two characters, Aunt Sue (Mrs. V. P. Lovell) and Uncle Dan (Stanley Hill), who welcome the neighborhood children to their home each week. The broadcast is divided roughly into two fifteen-minute periods. In the first period Uncle Dan narrates a Bible story brought to life by dialog, sound effects, and music. In the second period Aunt Sue narrates a true-to-life story, illustrating the principles emphasized in the Bible story.
In addition to the two main characters six children complete the permanent cast: Donna and Betty Edsell, ages ten and twelve; Donna Lee Hill, ten: Jimmie Hannum, twelve; Evan Ferris, fourteen; and Joe Hoover, twelve. These children impersonate numerous child characters in the weekly stories. Not infrequently the girls' trio sings appropriate musical selections.
The ultimate objective of the program is to acquaint families with the third angel's message. Personal contacts are made through the Good Deeds Club. This club strives to stimulate the children to do more kind acts and be more useful around the home and the community.
To become a member, the children must write Uncle Dan and Aunt Sue, tell about the good deed they have done, and then receive a membership card, which has on it the picture of the regular radio cast. At the end of each month the good deeds are judged by a committee. The most outstanding "good deeder" is invited to be a guest at the broadcast, and is presented with a fifteen dollar Argoflex camera donated by a local merchant. Complimentary correspondence is reaching the broadcasting station constantly. Some statements are:
"Our whole family listens to your Story Hour, and we plan to tell all our friends about it. This is a most worth-while program." "What a wonderful program; we wish there were more like it on the air. You are doing a splendid work for our children." "Your moral and educational stories are what we need more of. This program is the best of its kind on the air." "Your Story Hour is something different, unique. I am sure the children in this area will be waiting for it each Sunday." "Our children these days need more uplifting programs such as yours." "Tonight as Aunt Sue finished her story, one of your devoted listeners cried out, 'Why, it's too short; the Story Hour can't be over yet!' " "Sunday morning after the Voice of Prophecy we set the alarm clock so we would be sure not to miss your Story Hour Broadcast." "I am a teacher of boys and girls; your radio program is the best ever. Keep it up." "We listen to your Story Hour each Sunday. We hope it stays on the air for a long time to come."
Virgil Iles, a student in Emmanuel Missionary College, writes the scripts; and Melvin Niswander, a 1949 graduate, directs the broadcasts. Both are experienced radio men. Were it possible financially, these weekly broadcasts could just as easily be aired from one hundred stations as a public service, as from the five we are now using. Other stations are calling for these transcriptions as a means of helping in these times of serious juvenile delinquency.
The Lord cannot come until every soul is warned. We must be more concerned about the children. "We may bring hundreds and thousands of children to Christ if we will work for them."—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 172.
Many hours of study, toil, and prayer are being contributed to this project, that these programs may be an entering wedge in presenting the third angel's message to those who otherwise might not be reached. Determine now to do more than utter a feeble word of admiration for this work. Let your prayers in behalf of this medium be prayers of power, ascending to the God of hosts for His blessing. We trust and believe that many thousands of children can be won to the truth through this avenue of service.