Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Master Control and Word

The Word record label was based in Waco, Texas. It was a Christian record label whose catalog can easily be found in any thrift store bin. The albums vary from exceedingly earnest to comically bad. Word also manufactured Carol records. There's a note on that here. What makes them interesting to us is that they were knee deep not just in music, but also in radio.

But this LP was unique as it seemed at first read to be a transcription disc. The Southern Baptists Radio & Television Commission (SBRTC). But it's not. It's the soundtrack to the program including both the opening and closing themes. These versions may or may not be the ones used in the broadcast, but were recorded by Paul Mickelson and the Concert Orchestra of London. Word released it as part of their Treasure Music series the W-7000 serial numbers. Word records discography here.

Mickelson actually had a long career in music recording multiple albums for RCA. He played as an organist for Billy graham and in 1958 he became vice president of Word records. He went on to found Supreme records, another Christian music label. Bio here.

At it's peak the Master Control radio program was carried by 200 commercial stations in 38 states and an additional 200 AFRN stations abroad. It was distributed into the mid 80s on 1.5 mil mylar mastering tape . SBRTC launched the program in 1959 and it was one of seven radio and television programs Word produced and syndicated. It was inspired by the NBC program Monitor. In the Word version the program was based around pop music and religious commentary. In it's later years it became more overtly religious and no longer blended unobtrusively into it's Hot AC and CHR affiliates. It ran until the spring of 2006.

The radio series was originally produced by Dr. Paul M. Stevens, then director of the SBRTC. It was based in Fort Worth, Texas. Stevens was an interesting character. He had a goal of becoming a physician when he started school at Mississippi College but joined the ministry in 1935 and transferred to Baylor University. He served as a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force starting in 1942. He was discharged honorably in 1946 and went on to pastor several Dallas area churches.

He retired in 1977 but kept busy. He wrote and produced spots against drunk driving for broadcast on radio station WBAP. From 1980-85 he also served on the Texas State Board of Education.