In May, 1920, Charles A. Stanley, president of the Cosradio Company and operator of amateur radio station 9BW in Wichita, Kansas, was told by his minister, Dr. Clayton B. Wells, that if Stanley's daily broadcasts were going to include Sundays, he should at least be promoting religious activities. So Stanley began broadcasting Dr. Wells' sermons on Sunday evenings. (The Cosradio Company would later operate broadcasting station WEY in 1922-1923).
This article uses a number of radio operator abbreviations: QST--General transmission of interest to everyone (i.e. a broadcast); QSA--Strong signals; CUL--"See you later", O. M.--"Old man", "the 'bug'"--enthusiasm for the radio hobby. Also, some of the oddly spelled words, like "droppt" for dropped", are due to Radio News' advocacy of phonetic spelling.
Radio News, November, 1920, pages 270, 312:
Enter--The Radio Preacher
How a Preacher in Wichita, Kansas, Broadcasts Sermons via Radio
By C. A. STANLEY*
YE olden time circuit preacher in Kansas who rode from parish to parish, little dreamed that twenty years hence his more modern followers would step to the radio transmitter, close the switch and for twenty minutes preach to a greater number of listeners than his complete circuit preaching ever reached. Even the average layman, quite well read in scientific subjects, does not always realize the wonderful strides made in radio telephone and telegraph research work.
THE FIRST AND ORIGINAL "SKY" PILOT
From my private station in Wichita, Kansas, there is transmitted every evening, at a specified hour, such radio news and data as may be of interest to the local amateur and experimenter. On a certain Sunday evening in May, as I sat in my station ready to send out my evening "Q S T," Dr. C. B. Wells, who by the way, is teacher of Bible at Fairmount College as well as pastor of the Fairmount Congregational Church, chanced to pass, droppt into the station, took me to task for not having attended morning service, and then and there suggested that the use of the radio station on the Lord's day should henceforth be devoted to the Lord's work. I immediately took down Dr. Wells' sermon and transmitted it to the hundreds of stations within hearing; and it has now become an established practice to send out these sermons every Sunday evening at 7:30. Letters of appreciation addressed to the "Radio Preacher" and the "Wireless Parson" have been received from all parts of the middle west.
A jeweler located in a small town in northern Kansas, where little ever occurs to disturb the country folk, goes to his store every Sunday evening, copies the sermon on his jewelers receiving set and posts it on a bulletin board in front of his store where a goodly number of non-churchgoing people gather to read the Doctor's sermon.
THE "BUG" CAUSES SEPARATION OF MAN AND WIFE
On July the 18th this year, Dr. Wells' sermon was sent out as usual, a portion of which follows:
The subject for tonight is 'Love One Another.' This sounds rather mushy to some people, but in these three words is found the secret of success for the nation, the firm and the individual. Without love life is a failure. Did you ever stop to think that love is simply a desire to help the other fellow play the game fair and look the world square in the face with a feeling of pity for the man who is crooked?
Shortly afterwards I received the following letter from southern Texas:
Radio Preacher, 9BW,
Dear Sirs Was listening in tonight and working a number of hams, when I heard for the first time your "Q S T." I tuned the old receiver in until you were very QSA and copied your sermon. Say O. M. that's the first sermon I have listened to for ten years. Am station agent here for the -------- Railroad, and four years ago I acquired the wireless bug. Put up an aerial and constructed a receiver. Sure enough, I soon got the fever in real shape, sat up nights until long after midnight. For awhile everything went O. K. but after a while the late hours became an old story to friend wife, and she accused me of neglecting her and the baby. Well, maybe I did, so I laid off for awhile; but alas, I couldn't keep away from the old set. Well O. M. the story's a long one, and to cut it short, wife and baby left me. They now live with her mother over the other side of town. I see them about every week. Yes, I guess I love them, but I sure love to hear the old "sigs" come in. I am wondering tonight what I am made of, your sermon O. M. has sure torn a hole in me, I just don't seem to care to listen in, don't know what's the matter, guess I am out of sorts. Well I will listen for your sermon next Sunday. Cul. O. M.
On July 25th the QST was sent out in the regular manner and we were told that Dr. Wells was out of the city. We therefore listened to a venerable Preacher, whose subject was an old one yet ever new--"And a little child shall lead them." The little folks were all dresst in their best bib and tucker. He spoke in part of the innocense and beauty of the child in the home, of the influence for good on the parents. "How often the little child takes the parents' hands and looking up into their care worn faces, says. 'Good Papa, Kind Mamma.' What a soothing effect this little Heaven-sent angel has on our home relations. Boys, if you are a family man, how is it with you are you letting the little one in the home lead you?"
Then, on July 28th I received another letter from our radio friend in southern Texas which, was of a very pathetic nature and speaks for itself. The letter follows:
Radio Preacher, 9BW,
My dear Radio Preachers Last night I listened-in as usual, copied your sermon, which was very QSA. That was sure some sermon. I never before thought that I would have any use for preachers, but I have changed my mind. Your sermon reached the right spot in my heart if I have any. Say, O.M. I must confess that when I finished copying your QST I was a mess. I bawled like a kid. Well, I'll tell you, I threw the old receivers on the table and beat it for the Methodist Church a couple of blocks away; the preacher had just started his sermon, and strange to say his subject was "Home the Sweetest Place on Earth." I tell you O.M. I just swallowed that sermon whole and after the service I went down front took the old preacher aside and told him my troubles. Well, we talked it over and then we went over to my mother-in-law's house, wife had not gone to bed yet. We had a little prayer together, and today we are all back in our little home again the three happiest kids you ever saw; and best of all radio did it. Well, I guess you had had enough of this, so CUL."
HOW I DRIFTED INTO THE GAME
It may be of interest to the reader to learn how I first started in radio work. Some sixteen years ago when the Electro Importing Co. put out its first catalog; a little paper covered book which contained descriptive matter on spark coils, coherers and the like. I became keenly interested and like the boys of today it was not many years before I found myself sitting up late at night over a simple tuning coil and a piece of silicon. About all that could be heard in those days was NAA on time and weather, and the fellow who got time signals from Arlington was "going some." There were but few stations in New England then, but whenever I found a station I did not fail to visit it and gain all possible knowledge of this wonderful phenomena. I spent many spare hours in a station installed by the National Tel. & Tel. Co., where I helped to construct what we believed to be the first rotary gap. It was made by mounting brass balls on brass rods which were inserted in a steel hub. This was quite a novel gap for those days and produced a very peculiar tone as compared to the old stationary gap.
In conclusion I want to say that I am not the only person who believes that radio--amateur radio, mind you--is far from having reached the limit of new and distinct uses. Preaching by radio is but one of the many things which the radiophone of the future will do.
* President Cosradio Co.