The Reformed Witness Hour is but one of several radio programs which our Protestant Reformed Churches have used to witness the truth of God’s Sovereignty. Even though the cost of radio time was quite a financial burden, to some of them, it was felt to be their calling to testify of that truth which God so graciously revealed to them as individuals and Churches. It was through a conviction, that in these days of apostasy, the radio provided a means to bring the fight of God’s Word to many in this sin darkened world. Furthermore, it was also through a belief that even in radio ministry the Word of God bears fruit and never returns to Him void.
Although The Reformed Witness Hour was the leader in using the radio to minister the Word there were many other Protestant Reformed Churches following shortly thereafter with their own programs. The PROTESTANT REFORMED HOUR ON THE AIR was sponsored by our Churches in California. The SOVEREIGN GRACE HOUR was broadcast for quite a while from Sioux Falls, S.D., and was sponsored by a group of our churches in that vicinity and including northwest Iowa. The REFORMED TRUTH HOUR was supported by our South Holland and Oaklawn churches beginning in 1946. It continued under that name until 1956 when the same two churches contributed or sponsored the broadcast time for THE REFORMED WITNESS HOUR. Another program was the PROTESTANT REFORMED HOUR sponsored by our churches in Oskaloosa and Pella, Iowa, beginning in 1949. Our Manhatten Church also broadcast a program over their local radio for quite some time.
All of the above mentioned programs with the exception of THE REFORMED WITNESS HOUR were broadcast with the expectation of covering only the area in which the supporting church or churches were located. That procedure, in addition to providing a ministry of the Word to their own people and particularly to their shut-ins, also permitted a direct personal contact to be made with those writing in. Possibilities of making personal contact with write-ins is desirable and is given serious consideration when distant stations are selected. Although most mail response consists of a simple request for a sermon copy it is desirable to follow with a personal contact in some instances. Consequently, mail (received from THE REFORMED WITNESS HOUR broadcasts is relayed to the church nearest to the writer or the Mission Committee of our Churches.
In addition to the above matter of considering contacts with listeners on distant stations, there are many other factors entering into the problem of selecting an outlet. Consideration has to be given to broadcast time, costs, length of contract time, coverage areas, suitability of the station for religious programs, character of the people in the area, etc. While all those matters are weighed in finite minds in selecting a desirable outlet, recognition is also given to what might be considered “a call” to bring the ministry of the truth to a particular location. Furthermore, to have the conviction that God works His own good pleasure even in this activity or medium of the radio.
THE REFORMED WITNESS HOUR is now being broadcast over the following Radio Stations: WFUR — Grand Rapids, Michigan; KELO — Sioux Falls, South Dakota; KBOE — Oskaloosa, Iowa; KLIR — Denver, Colorado; WTAQ — LaGrange, Illinois; KPUG — Bellingham, Washington; WBEV — Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Broadcasting over the latter station began in the early part of December and WTAQ will be off the air after December 1957.
The broadcast costs over Station WFUR, KELO and KLIR are sponsored by First Church. Stations KBOE, KPUG and WBEV are sponsored by our Mission Committee, Station WTAQ by our So. Holland and Oaklawn Churches. The costs to the sponsors are offset by contributions from individuals, Churches or their Societies. All the other attending costs to provide the above Stations with a recording is borne again by First Church.
Many radio stations today, as in the past, welcome religious programs provided the programs don’t emphasize solicitations of contributions. The stations of the class used by THE REFORMED WITNESS HOUR are usually owned by a religious group or are directed by personnel favoring that type of program in recognition of the nature of their listeners. Others recognize the importance in the results of radio listener polls expressing or choosing religious programs as the number one program in popularity. The latter group usually permits only a limited percentage of time for that type of broadcast however.
Today, most of the religious programs on the radio are broadcast over one or more low powered stations for cost reasons. Some church groups use the reverse of that procedure and utilize a powerful or high priced station for a very short period and then shifting to another one in an altogether different locality. The latter method is frequently followed when the TV medium is used.
Broadcast time charges are related to power output, potential listening audience and time of broadcast. Although the present station outlets for THE REFORMED WITNESS HOUR are considered low in power output they nevertheless cover an area of population running into the millions. There are many people, of course, that won’t listen to any type of religious broadcast. Only a small percent of those that do listen will ever respond witl\ mail. Polls have indicated that the ratio of a single piece of mail response to the number of listeners to religious programs runs into the ten thousands. An interesting note is that much of the mail response to THE REFORMED WITNESS HOUR program is received from individuals not associated with our Churches.
The above resume is but one small phase of efforts put forth to produce THE REFORMED WITNESS HOUR PROGRAM. The other phases of operations are divided under committees, namely, Program, Secretarial, Financial, Printing and Mailing. While some of the work load is heavier in some committees, they are equally important to reach the objective of a complete programming plan. The committees reward lies in knowing they have labored in His kingdom work of witnessing the truth of His Word.