Thursday, September 20, 2012

Allen Revival Hour

Evangelists like Pat Roberson, Jimmy Stewart, and Billy graham have all produced a lot of radio programming. But on the bench behind them have always been a slew of lesser known radio men preaching away in relative obscurity on the AM dial. we usually learn their names only because of disgrace and scandal rather than their accomplishments. He's a tale that's as sad as it is true.

Asa Alonzo Allan was a pentecostal who did healings and tent revivals. But he was also a severe alcoholic suffering from depression. He was sometimes ticketed for drunk driving on the way to his own revival meetings. He'd been drinking since he was a child and he never shook it. He ran away from home when he was 14.  He spent the next 7 years carousing and drinking but found the faith in 1932 at a Methodist church. He later attended a attended a Pentecostal camp meeting and that set his path for life. He officially became a preacher in Holly, Colorado in the late 1930s. He became increasingly popular and was doing tent tours by 1951. More here and here.

In 1952  the "Allen Revival Hour" began broadcasting, by November of 1953 it was being carried on 9 stations. It was a very strong and promising beginning.  By1955 was broadcasting on seventeen Latin American radio stations as well as eighteen American ones. I have a list from one of his own publications, The Voice of Healing, August 1955 issue, but it unfortunately contains some clearly wrong information, like Mexican callsigns attributed to metros well inside the U.S. The call signs are as follows:  XEG-AM, XELO-AM, KGER-AM, WASL-AM, WJJL-AM, WVCH-AM, WPIT-AM, WPIK-AM, KCVR-AM, WNJR-AM, KBYE-AM, KGA-AM, KMAC-AM, WKXV-AM, and WMSN-AM

The Allen Revival Hour program  was so popular that it was being aired on the British pirate radio ship "Radio City" in the mid 1960s to generate ad income. I even have come apocryphal claims that it was briefly aired as a TV show. He had books, he had LPs, he had a magazine, and a radio show. He was at the peak of his career.

In 1967, Allen was sued by the IRS for $300,000 in unpaid taxes. It was a crushing blow. His health began to deteriorate, years of drinking caught up with him. The faith healer had arthritis so bad he had to delegate his crusading to his staff. He had knee surgery in 1969. But in 1970 it came to an end. He had a "distressing" phone call with a friend and was subsequently found dead at the Jack Tar Hotel in San Francisco seated in front of his  TV.  He died of  what we now call FLD (fatty liver disease) which is commonly caused by alcohol abuse. At the time his radio program was carried on 186 stations.He was only 59.