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1922 __ A church with mighty congregation
Comment : “ When the first radio services were held on Sunday in May in the new half million dollar building of the First Baptist Church of Shreveport, Louisiana, but a small portion of the workshippers were found in the church auditorium. The rest of the congregation were scattered throughout the United States, in portions of Mexico and upper South America, on the islands of the Gulf of Mexico and in ships at sea. One of the country’s most powerful radio broadcasting stations carried the apstor’s voice through the hundreds of miles that lay between him and his hearers. In hundreds of churches served by circuit riders, in hospital wards, in orphanages and old people’s homes and in residences of those affiliated with this church, receiving sets are being installed to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the first powerful radio broadcasting station in this part of the country. [...] The normal radius of the station is 300 miles, but under favorable conditions it can be picked up from coast to coast, and is audible in portions of South America. The broadcasting feature of the new church plans was arranged primarily in order that the aged and invalid mother of the pastor might hear the sermons of her son. [...] Hundreds of churches hat have no pastor or that are able to have a preacher only once or twice a month have installed or are planning to install receiving sets. [...] That the church radio will be a boon to the isolated congregation is agreed by all religions workers. Many preachers decalre that radio offers the church bigger opportunities than anything science has produced since the invention of the printing press. [...] The pastor states that the performance of marriage ceremonies will be one of the tasks of his radio station. A marriage performed by radio is just as legal, and the ceremony can be as impressive as if the minister were present in person. [...] The pastor expects to reach many of his flock who are addicted to Sunday morning automobile trips through his radio outfit. He will insist that when they go out Sunday morning they carry receiving sets in their cars. [...] A 10-story tower, which furnishes quarters for a Sunday School of 3,000 and many young people’s societies, has attracted much attention. The four floors of the main building, together with the tower, have a total floor of 51,500 square feet, and a combined seating capacity of 8,000 people. The main auditorium will seat 3,000 people. It is equipped with a four-manuel organ, and a chime connection. The transmitter of the broadcasting outfit is inconspicuously located in the pulpit, and connected with the generator by wires that run under the floor and up the elevator shaft. Even the deaf will be provided for in this auditorium. An acousticon outfit has been installed with a transmitter in the pulpit, connecting by concealed wires with the pews. The roof garden provides accommodation for 1,000 people. During the summer, outdoor services, concerts, and socials will be held there. The nursery in the basement, fitted up with toys, sand piles, and children’s furniture, under the supervision of a nurse, cares for children of mothers attending services or working or shopping down town during the week. The dining rooms furnish noon lunches daily to several hundreds girls and women employed downtown. Several banquets are served every week. The banquet hall seats 500 people at two long tables. A gymnasium is located in a nupper room of the tower. The congregation of this church numbers 2,200. Then years ago its membership was 500. While the city has swhown a growth of 43 per cent, the membership of the church has increased 400 per cent, while the contributions of the church to all causes has increased 3,000 per cent.”. (Archie Richardson, In“RADIO BROADCAST”, Vol. I, MAY, 1922, to OCTOBER, 1922, Garden City, N. Y., DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY, 1922, pp. 218-222)Broadcasting Church Services.But, does sending out these church services over immense areas increase or decrease attendance at the churches ? Is it doing a service or harm to the church ? Is it a fad, and will it last? What is the effect upon the hearer ? Really, is it worth while as something more than an entertainment ? These questions are continually asked of radio broadcasters, and of the ministers themselves who have the services of their churches broadcasted. These ministers, truly "Sky Pilots," have various answers, but a history of church service broadcasting and a review of the details of its growth will naturally give the reader an opportunity to decide for himself. The first church services ever broadcasted by radiophone were sent out from the Calvary Episcopal Church, Shady Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pa., Sunday evening, January 2, 1921, from Station KDKA located in the East Pittsburgh Works of the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company, about nine miles distant from the church. The connection between these two points was, of course, a telephone line. [...] The first services were sent out through a phonograph horn placed in the chancel. One end of the horn was attached to a telephone receiver, and, with this crude device, such sounds as were picked up by the horn were sent along the wire to East Pittsburgh and from there out into the ether. The horn was merely tied in place with stout cord high up in the chancel, out of sight of the congregation. Situated as it was, the vibration of passing street cars or the reverberations of the organ set up a rattling that was easily distinguishable. The next week the horn was placed in the same place, but in order to guard against vibration, it was hung on rubber bands. In addition it was placed in full view of the congregation, to eliminate any skepticism regarding the method of sending out the services. Any member of the church questioned as to the manner in which the services were being broadcasted, had only to point to the horn and say "The music and the voices go out there," and his explanation was accepted. [...] However satisfactory the horn was for the purposes of demonstrating to skeptics the ability to catch church services, it left much to be desired when it came to catching sound. Telephone transmitters were next resorted to, and these were placed in various positions about the choir. One of these transmitters was placed in front of the minister, another over the choir, another near the chimes, etc. The telephone transmitters worked fairly well, but still were not entirely satisfactory, so some amplification was placed in the line to boost the sound on its way to the station. This was a decided improvement. And when microphones were substituted for the telephone receivers, still more improvement was noted. So, as the situation now stands in Calvary Church, there are eight microphones placed about the church. The chimes, the pulpit, the chancel, the organ, each has a microphone, while the others are placed advantageously above the choir. These microphones were tried in more than a hundred and fifty different places in the church before the results were entirely satisfactory. All these microphones lead to a switch box which also contains tube amplifiers. An operator sits up with the choir and throws the switches for the different microphones. When the choir sings, a switch connected to the microphones in the choir loft is thrown so that these particular microphones are open. When the minister speaks, the microphone in the pulpit is thrown open. When the chimes are played the switch for them is thrown. And the mere fact that church services are being broadcasted is proof enough that radio broadcasting is not merely a means of amusement for idle hours, but is also a messenger of hope and uplift for serious minded men and women. The broadcasting of church services is practically the history of radio broadcasting. It was started with almost the first of the regular concerts sent out by KDKA, a pioneer radiophone station, and these services are the only part of the programme which has survived the first year and a half of broadcasting. All the other things tried on the radiophone in those first few months have made way for something better. [...] There is just one more question to be answered. "Will radio services have a detrimental effect on church attendance?" Dr. van Etten can answer this from his experience. He states, " It will greatly increase the church attendance. It is the greatest advertisement the church has ever had. Every Sunday, I meet new people drawn here because they know me over the wireless. Every week letters say: When we are in Pittsburgh, we shall surely come to Calvary Church. The radio will increase church attendance as the phonograph has increased interest in musical concerts. It is not, after all, a satisfactory substitute for the real thing, but advertises the church services far and near.". (W.W. Rodgers, In“RADIO BROADCAST”, Vol. I, MAY, 1922, to OCTOBER, 1922, Garden City, N. Y., DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY, 1922, pp. 321-329)
Urls : http://www.archive.org/stream/radiobroadcast01gardrich/%23page/218/mode/2up (last visited ) http://www.archive.org/stream/radiobroadcast01gardrich/%23page/320/mode/2up (last visited )

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