Blending cultural, religious, and media history, Tona Hangen offers
a richly detailed look into the world of religious radio. She uses
recordings, sermons, fan mail, and other sources to tell the
stories of the determined broadcasters and devoted listeners who,
together, transformed American radio evangelism from an on-air
novelty in the 1920s into a profitable and wide-reaching industry
by the 1950s.
Hangen traces the careers of three of the most successful
Protestant radio evangelists--Paul Rader, Aimee Semple McPherson,
and Charles Fuller--and examines the strategies they used to bring
their messages to listeners across the nation. Initially shut out
of network radio and free airtime, both of which were available
only to mainstream Protestant and Catholic groups, evangelical
broadcasters gained access to the airwaves with paid-time
programming. By the mid-twentieth century millions of Americans
regularly tuned in to evangelical programming, making it one of the
medium's most distinctive and durable genres. The voluntary
contributions of these listeners in turn helped bankroll religious
radio's remarkable growth.
Revealing the entwined development of evangelical religion and
modern mass media, Hangen demonstrates that the history of one is
incomplete without the history of the other; both are essential to
understanding American culture in the twentieth century.