Monday, April 14, 2014

The Old Fashioned Revival Hour

Rev. Charles E. Fuller was a radio evangelist in every sense of the word. He hosted the Old Fashioned Revival Hour, a weekly Sunday broadcast that ran for over three decades. At it's peak it was carried on over 450 stations. Even the music was popular. The Old Fashioned Revival Hour Choir and quartet, and it's organist George Broadbent made several popular recordings in the 1940s and 1950s.

Charles was born in California to a wealthy family that owned mines and orange groves. and his first work was as an orange grower working for his father. Some biographies say he saved up his money and bought a telegraph and learned Morse code. It's more likely that this was a crystal set of some kind. He attended Pomona College in 1906, he worked for his father managing an orange packing plant but later quit to pursue bible study.  He spoke on radio at a bible conference in 1927. His study group grew. He joined the Cavalry Church and began broadcasting his Sunday evening services on KGER-AM. He left that in 1933 to begin full-time radio evangelism.

He began the Gospel Broadcasting Association in 1933. His services were carried on KFI and KNX. In 1937 he began paying for airtime on the Mutual Broadcasting Network. He started a second show on Mutual called the Pilgrim hour that ran from 1944 to 1947. Mutual started with 13 stations but when they expanded their network Fuller went with them, ballooning to 450 affiliates. But 10 years later it all collapsed for Fuller. Mutual dropped all paid religious programming after noon on Sundays. Fuller had to scramble to piecemeal a network of independent stations without a national middleman syndicating. In 1949, (1951 in some accounts) he cut a new deal with the ABC Radio Network, which bumped him back up to 650 radio stations.
Fuller died in March of 1968, two years after his wife. The program was briefly hosted by Fuller Seminary president David Hubard.  After the final episode was recorded in March of that year, Fuller died of heart failure. His son Dan Fuller and David Hubard began a new radio ministry called the Joyful Sound. In 2002 the junior Fuller began rebroadcasting the Old Fashioned Revival Hour on a station in Ventura, CA. (I've been unable to determine which one) Today, the program is broadcast on 120+ stations across the United States including shortwave. More here.