6. “New Ways of Proselyting”: Radio and Missionary Work in the 1930s

By Jessie L. Embry

Jessie L. Embry, "'New Ways of Proselyting': Radio and Missionary Work in the 1930s," in Go Ye into All the World: The Growth & Development of Mormon Missionary Work, ed. Reid L. Nielson and Fred E. Woods (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, 2012), 117–50.

“New Ways of Proselyting”: Radio and Missionary Work in the 1930s

Jessie L. Embry

Jessie L. Embry was associate director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at Brigham Young University when this article was published.


And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. (Revelation 14:6)

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:14)

And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops. (2 Nephi 27:11)


Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints take the scriptures above very literally but have not always been sure how they could fulfill the mission of taking the gospel to the whole world. As each new form of technology developed in the twentieth century, some Church leaders and members were convinced that this was the medium that would be used to share the gospel. In the early twenty-first century, Church leaders used the World Wide Web by creating webpages such as mormon.org, where nonmembers can learn about the Church’s teachings, listen to the testimonies of members, and chat with missionaries. The leaders also encouraged members to use the Internet to share their views.

The Internet is not the first technology, however, that Latter-day Saints have felt would help spread the gospel to all people. For example, Apostle LeGrand Richards commented in 1944, “Sometimes I feel that the development of the radio is primarily to make possible the preaching of the gospel. . . . I believe the Savior must have visualized this when he declared the message should be proclaimed from the housetops.” [1] With that statement in mind, the entire Church and local missionaries used radio in the 1930s and 1940s to share their message. This article will examine how missionaries worked with local radio stations, with limited success. To understand that effort, it will first explore the history of radio in general, the history of religious programs on the radio, the general use of radio by the LDS Church, and local missionary efforts, with a special focus on the Eastern States Mission when James H. Moyle served as mission president in the 1930s. It will then compare the local station efforts with the successful general Church program Music and the Spoken Word and other religious radio programs and discuss reasons why the local radio efforts were less successful. It will show how the current Internet missionary efforts are able to avoid many of the pitfalls that missionaries encountered with radio.

A Brief H​​istory of Radio

Generations who have grown up with radio and who turn it on for background noise hardly notice the sound. But in the 1920s and 1930s, radio was new and exciting. Vacuum tubes for radio were invented in 1906. Many future engineers had their start in the field of engineering because of their interest in radio. [2] According to one study, radio became “a nationwide phenomenon” in the 1920s, and the 1930s were “the golden age of radio,” when the media “competed with movies as shapers of manners and morals.” [3] During those decades, the price of radios dropped so people could afford them. For example, a radio set cost $37.50 in 1931 but was only $9.95 in 1941. Forty percent of American households had radios in 1931, but a decade later, that figure jumped to 86 percent. By the 1950s, there were over one hundred million sets in the United States. [4]

With greater use of radio came government regulation. Congress passed the Radio Act of 1927 and the Communications Act of 1934, creating departments to control radio stations. The goal was to serve the “public interest, convenience, and necessity” of local communities. [5] At first, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set aside airwave space for “public interest broadcasting.” Commercial stations disliked this arrangement, since some were forced off the air when the free networks took over their allotted frequencies. As a compromise, the FCC asked radio networks to include free weekly programming, which was referred to as “sustaining time” public service announcements. [6]

Religious R​adio

Most histories list the first religious broadcast as occurring on KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on January 2, 1921. Because the pastor of the Calvary Episcopal Church saw radio as “a passing fad,” he assigned that first show to his associate pastor, Lewis B. Whittemore. But the public enjoyed the program, and rather than being a passing fad, it became a weekly program. With the success of this program, church ministers throughout the country started producing radio shows. [7]

The FCC included religion as one of the areas of public interest. But the goal was to have “broad truth” that was not “controversial.” [8] The FCC, however, worried when some religions used the airway to proselytize. The federal government was uncomfortable selling religion, so the FCC and the leading religious groups encouraged networks to give radio time to only mainline Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish groups. But there were still independent stations and networks that ignored the rules, and fundamentalist churches bought time from these independent stations or the Mutual Boarding System. Sometimes churches established their own stations so they could proselytize on the air. According to some scholars, radio and fundamentalism started at the same time, so it appears that these churches focused on using the new media to spread their religious message. [9] After 1960, the FCC no longer required sustaining time, and the number of religious programs dropped. [10] Despite that drop, a 1997 study of the history of religion and broadcasting in the United States pointed out that “religion is the third most widely syndicated radio format.” [11]

The LDS Chu​​rch and Radio

President Heber J. Grant addressing an audience via radio. President Grant was the first President of the Church to address the Saints via radio transmission. © Intellectual Reserve, Inc. 

The first LDS Church–related station was owned by the Church’s newspaper, the Deseret News, and first broadcast from 6ZM on November 22, 1920. The Church’s first official use of radio was on May 6, 1922, on station KZN, which the Deseret News also owned. President Heber J. Grant read from Doctrine and Covenants section 76 and then bore his testimony of Joseph Smith. Following other speakers, Apostle George Albert Smith talked about his first experiences with bicycles, telephones, and airplanes. He continued, “And, now, to cap the climax, we have the opportunity of talking over a wireless telephone, and having it broadcast to very many stations. . . . I look upon this wireless telephone as the culmination of all the marvelous experiences to which the human family has thus far been heir.” [12]

President George Albert Smith addressing the Saints via radio broadcast. © Intellectual Reserve, Inc. 

With the new stations, general conference in April 1923 was broadcast on a radio to those on Temple Square. Earl J. Glade, the business manager of station KFPT, explained, “There were no fewer than a dozen business houses in Salt Lake and Ogden where the services were being received over the radio and eagerly listened to by hundreds of people, many of whom had never heard such a service before.” In October 1924, members could listen in their homes. The program was a blessing especially for Charles W. Penrose, a counselor in the First Presidency, who was sick and could not attend conference. [13]

Richard L. Evans standing in front of the Tabernacle Choir during a broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word. © Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

According to Glade’s son, in 1924 the Deseret News hired a new manager who had less interest in the “plaything called radio.” Since the newspaper manager was not as interested, Glade, then a professor at the University of Utah in business and advertising who saw great potential with radio, became even more involved with the radio station [14] In reporting a Sunday evening program in January 1925, Glade exclaimed, “To state that station KFPT has an audience of over a million, according to radio experts, is no exaggeration.” With that focus, Glade saw there was missionary potential with radio. “These programs of discourse and sacred music are brought to the very fire-sides of thousands of people who otherwise would be very difficult to reach. In the privacy of their own homes they are often willing, if not eager, to listen to the gospel message.” Glade concluded, “Who can presage what the development of the morrow will being with this wondrous instrumentality that our Father in heaven through his providence, has placed in our hands, reaching out as it does to the end of the world?” [15]

While this program eventually ended, the longest lasting LDS program and one that continues into the twenty-first century is the Tabernacle Choir broadcast. The first show aired on July 15, 1929. Richard L. Evans, a broadcaster for KSL, became the voice of the program about six months later. For the next forty years until Evans’s death, his short nondenominational inspirational sermons were accompanied with songs by the choir. During that time, Evans moved on to be the editor of the Church’s main magazine, the Improvement Era, and a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. But he continued to be voice of Music and the Spoken Word[16]

Mary Pulley, a missionary in the Eastern States Mission in the early 1930s, remembered that the Tabernacle Choir broadcasts were “one of the greatest tools” she had on her mission. “It was great to hear the choir, even though it always made us homesick [for] . . . our lovely mountain home.” [17] The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) first broadcast the program because KSL was an affiliate of that network. In 1932, through the efforts of Church member Stanley McAllister, a mechanical engineer for the Columbia Broadcasting Company (CBS), KSL switched to the competing network. While NBC wanted to keep the choir, KSL decided to switch all of its programming to CBS. [18]

General Authorities were impressed with these programs and the possibility of radio in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s for members and missionary work. As the Church started its first broadcasts, President Heber J. Grant remarked in the October 1924 conference, “The radio is one of the most marvelous inventions man knows anything about. To have the voice carried for thousands of miles seems beyond comprehension.” [19] A decade later, he repeated in conference an address he had just given on the radio. At the conclusion, he declared, “Words fail me in expressing my heartfelt gratitude to God for the radio, which gives me this opportunity of bearing my testimony to all the people of the world of the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” [20] After the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s first broadcast on July 15, 1929, Charles W. Nibley, a member of the First Presidency, explained in the October conference the impact that the choir was having. “If you will turn on your radio you will hear this wonderful choir. It is heard all over the United States. We have had letters from Long Island, from New York, from Washington, from all around the surrounding country: ‘We heard the choir, we heard the organ, and oh, it was so good.’” [21]

The Church became even more involved with radio when Gordon B. Hinckley returned from his mission in 1935. Joseph F. Merrill, the president of the European Mission, had asked Hinckley to explain to Church leaders about the need for more printed materials. After what was supposed to be a fifteen-minute meeting with Church leaders extended to almost an hour, Apostle David O. McKay asked Hinckley to be the executive secretary of a new committee called the Church Radio, Publicity, and Mission Literature Committee. From that position, Hinckley created radio programs. [22] Hinckley also created twenty-four fifteen-minute records, which were used by the missionaries in New England in 1939. One missionary said that a radio station manager who listened to the shows was “very much impressed. He was set against long call-to-repentance type of programs but thought the short preachments would fit into his program well.” [23]

LDS Missionaries and Radio

Churchwide LDS programs originated with KSL radio. Except for the Tabernacle Choir, which was picked up by CBS, most LDS programs were limited to KSL. With the increased FCC regulations, though, many stations only offered programs provided by networks. As a result, New York networks controlled 93 percent of American broadcasting by 1937, and 88 percent of the listeners liked the national information more than they liked local programming. [24]

Still, the radio networks were not as powerful as television networks became, and much of radio was regional and local. [25] LDS missionaries attempted to take advantage of local radio stations that often needed additional programming to fill the broadcasting hours. Missionaries gave talks with Mormon Tabernacle recordings on KFRU in Columbia, Missouri, on September 30, 1934. [26] In 1935, missionaries reported giving radio programs on WMBH in Joplin, Missouri, at 2:00 p.m. each Friday. In 1936, the elders had a program “each Sunday afternoon [where] we have the opportunity of reaching the people in this vicinity and teaching them the Gospel over the air by both song and sermon.” [27] The Southwest Missouri District in the Central States Mission explained that a missionary had given weekly broadcasts, but when he left there were no “competent singers” to continue the program. At the same time, missionaries in Muskogee, Oklahoma, stopped visiting radio stations asking for time because they were not successful. [28] In 1940, twelve missionaries in the Yellowstone District each donated five dollars to pay for a six-week radio program in Billings, Montana. [29] In 1947, Keith Richardson introduced radio programs at a station in Zanesville, Ohio, which was part of the Great Lakes Mission. [30]

Missionaries also did radio broadcasts outside the United States, including in Brazil in 1939 and 1955, Uruguay in 1949, and Sweden in 1938. Mission manuscript histories reported a radio program in Xela, Guatemala, at Christmastime in 1954 that stopped when the missionaries had to pay for it. LDS basketball games were broadcast in Toowoombas, Queensland, Australia, in the 1950s. A quartet sang on the radio in Chile in 1962. [31]

The Eastern States Mission

All of these examples, either in the United States or internationally, were isolated examples. A missionary magazine, Liahona, the Elders’ Journal, rarely included stories from missionaries using the radio. Most of the reports listed were from one mission, the Eastern States Mission. Why did the reports come from that mission? As with the missions that stressed sports or the ones where missionaries traveled “without purse or scrip” after World War II, the major reason for this added emphasis on radio seems to have been the interest of the mission presidents. [32] Mission presidents looked for new ways to find contacts and to motivate the missionaries. In the 1930s, radio was one possibility. In 1936, Glynn Bennion, who worked for the Church Historian Office, published “New Ways of Proselyting and the Reason Therefor” in the Improvement Era. He recalled hearing on his mission that in the 1840s, people became Mormons because they wanted religion and the LDS Church offered something new. In the 1930s, finding “eternal life” was no longer on the top of most people’s agenda. Rather than “becom[ing] disheartened,” Bennion suggested missionaries use their “ingenuity” and “attract attention to [their] superior wares,” just as “worldly competitors . . . dress[ed] up the cheap, gaudy merchandise.” He suggested “two modern methods”: sports and radio. Bennion referred to the Tabernacle Choir broadcasts, but he said that there were also programs on local radio. [33]

In the Eastern States Mission, the mission president who had the most influence was a lawyer and government official, James H. Moyle. Moyle accepted the position as mission president with some misgivings because he had just started a business with his sons. But he accepted the position because he saw it as a call from God. He told his friend and current Church President, Heber J. Grant, that he would serve for two years. In the end, Moyle was president of the Eastern States Mission for four and a half years. [34] As he started his new responsibilities, he explained, “I had been on a mission fifty years before and was greatly surprised to find that the methods of carrying on propaganda work for the Church had not been greatly changed from my early experience. I was immediately impressed with the importance of modernizing the missionary activities.” [35]

James H. Moyle, president of the Eastern States Mission, who felt impressed with the importance modernizing missionary activities and implemented the first missionary radio broadcast. Courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society. 

Moyle first asked the General Authorities if Apostle James E. Talmage or Seventy B. H. Roberts could create programs to use on the radio in New York City. Moyle was working with McAllister, the CBS engineer, who felt that the Tabernacle Choir programs could be expanded without cost. The First Presidency told Moyle that the General Authorities were not available for the programs, but he did not give up. As he explained in his memoirs, “I was so deeply impressed with the importance of using the radio that I urged [our leading missionaries] to be on the lookout for opportunities of speaking over the radio. . . . If we could not get help from Salt Lake we would do the work ourselves.” [36]

According to Moyle, the first missionary broadcast was on April 11, 1930, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, when Elder Carrol Parkinson, “a mere boy,” gave a fifteen-minute talk on the “Restoration of the Gospel” on WNBH. The first “real opening came at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania when D[ee] Glenn Brown of Provo and John M. Anderson of Logan secured the permission of the proprietor of the chief of two stations there to fill in any vacancy that might occur.” Moyle explained, “I think Brown was about twenty years of age and both were farmer boys of no special education outside of a little, maybe, at the Brigham Young Academy and Logan Agricultural College.” Moyle supervised the missionaries’ preparation of a script, and they gave a half-hour show on May 18 entitled “A Century of Divine Revelation” on WBAX. The program also included musical numbers by other missionaries serving in the area. A month later it became a weekly program. Moyle proudly reported in 1932 that the show was still on the air. [37]

In 1930, missionaries also gave programs in Pennsylvania, New York, and Delaware. Moyle wrote in his mission president report, “Radio work developed with such rapidity that it became necessary to create a new Mission officer for its direction.” Dee Glenn Brown “was appointed Mission Radio supervisor on September 9 and in this office has directed radio activity very creditably.” [38] The missionaries discussed “new methods of preaching the Gospel” at a January 9, 1931, meeting. “Special instructions were given concerning radio work inasmuch as it has become an important feature of our missionary work here in the Eastern States.” [39]

At the end of the year, the mission manuscript history listed all the radio programs to date, including the location, the times of the programs, and the population of the city. These included a station in Poughkeepsie, New York, where Elder Mearl Peart explained, “The problem of radio broadcasting has become more complex in Hudson district since our privilege has developed into a daily program.” But he was not complaining: “This privilege requires an unselfish contribution of time and talent but we welcome it with the blessing it naturally brings.” [40] After the first WFBG broadcast on October 17, 1930, in Altoona, Pennsylvania, the program was “so successful” with people calling and writing in that the manager asked the missionaries to give three more shows. The history explained, “With the first one over and a success, it looks as though broadcasting over the radio may be a permanent thing there.” [41]

How did the missionaries get permission to be on the radio? There are a few hints in Moyle’s 1930 mission report. He refers to John Anderson as a “zealous assistant.” Glenn Brown was also very interested in the project, and the two missionaries worked hard to get the shows in Wilkes-Barre. In Wilmington, Delaware, Elder George F. Williams “distinguished himself as a sermon writer and reader.” But Moyle continued, saying that a member named “Sister Mary Woozely was the greatest individual contributing factor in securing the privilege.” She played at a Scottish Society, and according to Moyle, “her charming piano playing . . . won the friendship and admiration of the audience. These friends contributed to the successful request for radio privileges.” In Altoona, missionaries James C. Jensen and Mearl C. Peart were “active in the development of the privilege,” and Earl Martin’s singing was “so effective as to assure the continuation of this privilege.” In Washington, Pennsylvania, Elder G. Ellis Doty got permission after “persistent effort.” Moyle explained that in Poughkeepsie, New York, the show was “particularly remarkable” considering the lack of any Church members in the area, and it was “the merits of the missionaries [that had] won this courtesy.” One of the largest markets where the missionaries had a program was in Syracuse, New York. Elder Earl Martin sang on the radio there in April, and in September he gave his first sermon. [42]

In 1931, Moyle asked Mary Pulley to speak to local New England congregations and broadcast some messages. Pulley recalled, “I agreed to do this and after six months I had become the guest announcer and also gave the Sunday night address.” Since she was the only “lady missionary” on the radio, Pulley chuckled that listeners commented, “Mr. Pulley, we sure enjoyed that talk you gave last night.” Pulley said she was “not hurt” that listeners thought she was a man; she says, “I knew that a high pitched, falsetto voice didn’t sound very good, and was hard for people to listen to. But my voice became lower and lower.” [43]

Pulley recalled going to a New Year’s Eve party at her landlady’s home because her guests wanted “to see [her] in person because they’[d] heard [her] over radio.” One of the guests at the dinner complimented Pulley’s description of the Word of Wisdom and then commented, “I’ve heard your addresses over the New England Network.” [44] Because people liked her voice, the manager of the radio station offered her a job for which she could name her own salary. When she was preparing to return home, the manager commented, “I am sorry to hear that this is your last night,” but she was anxious to get home, since her mission had already been extended six months. [45]

Pulley served during the time when Brown directed the radio programs for the Eastern States Mission. When Brown was released in 1932, Joseph Smith Peery became the mission radio supervisor. According to Peery, Brown had several programs, but they only had limited success. Moyle asked each missionary to write a radio program and submit it to the mission. Peery wrote one, and he guessed Moyle liked it, because Peery was then called to New York to be in charge of radio work in the mission. Peery found the new position challenging, since missionaries had a hard time coming up with programs. Even when Peery wrote scripts, the missionaries continued to have problems because they often had “mike fright” and had trouble reading over the air. Peery tried other programs, like creating gramophone records (referred to as “platters”) containing his message and having the missionaries give an introduction and conclusion. [46]

To help deal with these problems, Peery came up with a plan to create professional programs at the CBS station. Professional Latter-day Saint musicians and radio personalities would perform, and the shows would be produced on platters. Peery explained his program in a letter to Moyle, who passed it on to the Quorum of the Twelve. According to the letter, “A great opportunity is being wasted by the Church” because “in the past 15 years the radio industry has developed from the experimental stage to a medium that comes second to the daily papers in controlling public opinion.” Peery continued to say that the Church could “produce a series of programs that will appeal to all people.” The missionaries in the Eastern States Mission had used radio without any assistance from the general Church, but “the work has of necessity been limited. Lack of talent and funds forced us to give programs over second rate stations with a local following. With the experience gained during the past two years, we have been able to see clearly the future possibilities in this radio work.” Peery continued the letter with an appeal for programs and funds. After explaining that “we are fighting jazz bands” and “the fingers that turn the radio dial,” he concluded that the “programs should be written by someone who understands radio presentation.” Peery then outlined an ambitious plan for using Mormons with musical talent and the studios of CBS in New York City to create radio series. [47]

Peery and Moyle worked with Roscoe A. Grover to find out more information about how to use radio. Grover served a mission in the Eastern States Mission during the 1920s when B. H. Roberts was mission president. After his mission, Grover worked as a part-time announcer for KSL and then moved to New York City, where he worked as the manager of the radio department for the Ned Wayburn Institute and New York University. In 1933, Grover contacted recording studios to find out how much it would cost to produce programs. [48] Peery passed this information on to Church leaders.

Peery was especially hopeful because in 1932, the New York District Mutual Improvement Association had convinced Columbia Broadcasting that Mormonism was one of the top fifteen churches in America and should be allowed to have a program on Church of the Air, a national program produced “in the interest of a broader fulfillment of the spiritual needs of our community.” The program included fifteen minutes of speaking and fifteen minutes of music. Fred G. Taylor, the MIA district president, interviewed James H. Moyle. The program received mixed reviews because it needed more rehearsal and was not a professional group, but it was a program carried by ninety-two stations on the CBS system and that reached 80 to 90 percent of the largest stations. [49]

Peery hoped David A. Smith, his uncle and the Presiding Bishop of the Church, would help convince the Church leaders to plan series that each consisted of thirteen radio programs. Four series of weekly broadcasts would add up to a year of programming. He sent examples of his broadcasts on records to the Presiding Bishopric on August 3, 1933. Across the top of the copy that he saved, Peery wrote, “I began the recorded radio programs for the Church.” His letter explained that the broadcasts were as good as the “average program” but that better programs could be made with other talent. He needed approval to start the show. [50]

The only response to the idea in Peery’s letters was a reply from Apostle James E. Talmage to Moyle. After apologizing for taking so long to reply, Talmage praised Peery’s radio scripts as “well adapted” and “doctrinally sound.” He then criticized some radio plays because he felt that the Church programs should not try to compete with “catch advertising.” Talmage was concerned with the broadcasts’ quality. “Particular ability and development skills are needed to the writing of dialogues and dramas and I cannot consider any of those submitted as being of a high order, but perhaps they are the best of their kind you can produce there.” Talmage apologized that he could not get other Church leaders to look at the material. Years later, Peery recalled in an oral history interview that there had been financial concerns about the cost of the programs. [51]

While efforts to get General Authorities to fund programs were not successful, James H. Moyle felt that radio was one of the highlights of his mission. A 1932 Liahona article reported that the Eastern States Mission had presented 764 programs: “Nearly all of the addresses have been written and delivered by the missionaries. These addresses have been broadcast over 18 different stations.” [52] In his memoirs, Moyle said that the seven stations were still doing weekly programs at the time of his release, and over a thousand sermons had been given on the radio, “a work that has not been equaled since.” He continued to brag, “The radio work was the first in missionary fields, and I understand ours was the first organized effort at mass publicity.” While not all stations continued to broadcast, Moyle said, “Where one station was lost others were obtained, so that it continually averaged about seven.” [53]

Moyle and Peery felt they made a good team. When Peery was released, Moyle wrote: “You have left a record of leadership behind you, of which you may always be proud, especially in developing and perfecting the splendid radio work pioneered in this mission by your predecessor. Indeed you also are a pioneer in enlarging and developing new phases of the work of preaching the Gospel over the air. You are an excellent example of what a young man can accomplish with a determination to serve the Lord and advance his work in the earth.” [54] Peery also praised Moyle. In an oral history interview, Peery called Moyle a “creative and a farsighted man.” Small towns had radio stations, and Moyle saw using them as a way to improve missionary work. [55] Gordon B. Hinckley expressed the same views about Moyle. While missionaries continued the traditional methods of doing work in the early 1930s, “President Moyle was quick to realize the possibilities of radio, newspapers, and exhibits to erase old, ill-founded prejudices against his people. Time was secured on one radio station after another. This pioneer effort was taken up by the Church in other sections, until at the date of this writing [1951], hundreds of Mormon radio programs are presented each week in various parts of the nation.” [56]

Don B. Colton replaced Moyle as mission president in 1933 when Moyle became the United States commissioner of customs. Oliver Rollins Smith served as the Eastern States Mission publicity director under Colton in 1935 and 1936. Smith’s journal refers mainly to writing newspaper articles. He only mentioned speaking on the radio for the first time on May 17, 1936, on WGDT in Scranton, Pennsylvania. [57] But Colton used other methods to promote radio broadcasts. He asked Roscoe A. Grover to be the executive secretary of the Eastern States Mission Radio, Pageant, and Publicity Committee. [58] Using information from ward teaching messages, Church leaders’ talks, and recorded copies of Mormon Tabernacle Choir songs, Grover developed a series of thirteen programs that the missionaries could take to radio stations. He created these programs because he described the previous missionary radio efforts as “a haphazard thing.” Missionaries who were knocking on doors would “bump into a station and then ask for permission to broadcast. Then they didn’t know what to say.” At first Grover wrote scripts or edited the missionaries’ scripts, but he decided it would be better to provide published materials for the missionaries to read. [59]

The radio station staff would introduce the program, and then the missionaries would read a scripture, play music, and present the editorial message. Following the presentation, the staff would explain, “Our next message on next Sunday morning is an editorial entitled ______ designed to be thought provoking and helpful to YOU.” Grover suggested that the fifteen-minute programs be weekly. Like Peery, he believed a series of thirteen shows worked well. He sent complete instructions to the missionaries telling them how to approach radio stations and present the information. Grover recalled that the programs were read sometimes in Poughkeepsie, New York, and Wilmington, Delaware. [60]

In 1940, Frank Evans was the Eastern States Mission president. According to the Liahona, Elders Cordon and Walker sang and spoke on a station in Plattsburg, New York, with the assistance of Brother and Sister Brinkeroff from Tucson, Arizona. Missionaries in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, had a radio interview about the new Brigham Young film that had been released. The Liahona reported another show where “Elders Farnsworth, Udall, Gardner, and McConkie have recently started a new series of radio programs in New Haven, Conn. They are entitled Pioneer Hymns and are under the direction of Elder McConkie . . . and Elder Farnsworth.” The article continued, “The programs are patterned somewhat after the regular Sunday programs of the SL Tab choir and organ programs. With the individual and collective musical talents of the four elders, a more favorable and distinctive program is being presented weekly.” [61]

Missionaries continued to present radio programs in 1947 and 1948 in the Eastern States Mission. The Church History Library has copies of the scripts, but there is no explanation of how the programs were developed. A show on March 1, 1947, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, discussed the Mormon Centennial Pioneer Celebration. In July, missionaries in Altoona, Pennsylvania, were invited to give a half-hour radio program on KJSN. These programs included Mormon Tabernacle Choir songs and excerpts of talks about Church history and doctrine by Church leaders. [62]

The Success and Challeng​es of Radio Work 

But how successful were the radio broadcasts? And even more important, how is success to be determined in such ventures? In “Staying Human in a Media Age,” social ethicist and professor at the Harvard Divinity School Jonathan L. Walton explains, “Be it radio, television, or the Internet, none of these mediums is a natural tool that we use simply to broaden the audience of our otherwise ‘divinely animated’ ministries.” He continues, “Until we are brutally honest with ourselves about why and how we use varying media forms, we will not be equipped to be self-critical about how media are always amplifying, altering, and encoding our messages with unintended or open meanings, and thus we will not be able to access whether media have actually assisted in fulfilling, or have frustrated, our ministry goals.” [63]

Historians have asked similar questions about the impact of religious radio programming. A historian of religion, Martin Marty, explained in 1961, “Radio has become the most convenient forum for explicit presentation of the Christian religion.” He saw radio as a good way to help shut-ins and to give listeners a “nutritive side of Christianity” but added, “Usually it distorts the Christian message into a promise-all and demand-nothing version of cheap grace or expensive moralism.” In fact, Marty continued, “Were I not a Christian, most religious radio would keep me from being or becoming one.” He concluded, “Radio is just economical enough to permit broad access to communicators, just inclusive enough to be considered a mass medium, even if only regionally.” [64] In other words, Marty saw radio as valuable for Church members but not as a valuable missionary tool.

LDS Church leaders faced the same dilemmas in using radio to share their message. The radio and other technology-mediated programs until the 1970s worked best when they were for members, just as Marty explained. According to Mormon historians Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton, “The church has made vigorous efforts to expand its use of the media in order to communicate effectively with its own members and where possible, to add important positive stimuli for a sound, stable society.” [65] Historian James B. Allen expressed the same sentiments in his article about technology coinciding with the Church’s 150th anniversary. “Technology had done much for the Saints, but little for the missionary program.” [66]

One way to determine success here is by how many people listened to the radio programs. Radio broadcasting studies point out that radio communicates with an “imagined community” on a local, regional, and national level.  [67] It is difficult to determine who that audience is. The Nielsen ratings that are often referred to in television broadcasting started in the 1930s as a way to gauge how many people listened to national radio programs. Occasionally, some studies have also been done to determine how many people listen to local and regional broadcasts. For example, a 1955 study, The Television-Radio Audience and Religion, attempted to analyze the impact of national and local religious broadcasts in New Haven, Connecticut. One set of programs was developed in 1947 by Yale Divinity School students for the New Haven Council of Churches. Their study showed a limited audience where the most listened to of three programs attracted six hundred families, and one had only forty or fifty families listening. [68]

The New Haven study then tried to analyze why the shows had a limited audience. Although their shows won awards from the annual Religious Radio Workshops and The Ohio State University’s Institute for Education by Radio and Television, the authors of the study concluded, “It is doubtful if the co-operative religious broadcasting in New Haven has made a major impression on the community or greatly benefited the churches in their program. The ministers’ general lack of training in the use of the mass media, their ignorance of the audience potential and their failure to plan continuously in terms of the needs and interests of the community are major blocks to effective local religious broadcasting.” [69]

This general information on the impact of radio programs is useful for understanding the impact of the Mormon radio programs in the Eastern States Mission and in other missionary efforts. One of the reasons that Joseph Smith Peery and Henry H. Moyle wanted to create mission programs was because they felt that the programs out of Gordon B. Hinckley’s office were geared too much toward members. [70] But they had no idea whether people listened to the missionary programs. When he was asked about the impact of the radio shows in an interview, Peery sidestepped the question by saying there were no negative reactions to them. He added, “We didn’t do [the programs] in a way to get a comeback.” [71]

The only way to determine the impact of the programs is to look at the comments of some ever-optimistic missionaries who always felt their efforts were worthwhile. Elders in Missouri explained, “These radio programs have helped acquaint the people of that city and the surrounding country with the restored Gospel teachings. As a result, we are able to talk to people who otherwise would be indifferent.” [72] Half a year later, elders in the same state reported, “The radio broadcasts at WMBH at Joplin and KWTO at Springfield, Missouri, are creating a better attitude toward the Gospel.” [73] In 1937, after the programs had been discontinued because of a lack of singers, the mission manuscript history reported, “These broadcasts have been a great help to the missionaries in their tracting and most of the prejudice has been broken” because the mission quartet had sung at local business clubs. [74] The elders wrote after the 1940 program in Billings, Montana, “We feel certain that this modern means of disseminating our message will do much towards making these people ‘Mormon conscious.’” [75]

In the Eastern States Mission, the elders who were doing the daily broadcast explained, “Two months of experience have shown the benefits . . . from presenting the Gospel to the people in this modern way. Many favorable contacts have been made and interesting comments are frequently heard regarding this program.” [76] Other missionaries reported receiving more contacts because of the radio exposure: “It may be interesting to note that not three months ago we were refused a street corner for a meeting in Altoona. It looked as though it was going to be hard to do much in that city, but as a result of the radio and the weekly meetings at the prison, Altoona is beginning to look like one of our best fields.” [77] The 1932 report in the Liahona said, “Many responses and letters have been received and many friends have been made through this missionary feature. The missionaries report that a substantial number of listeners are found in the localities in which we operate.” [78]

In 1936, missionaries in Connecticut reported:

Recently we have been able to secure program time over WELI, one of the New Haven broadcasting stations and beginning April 5 we have been broadcasting weekly programs of thirty minutes duration every Sunday afternoon. They consist of electrical transcriptions of the SLC Tabernacle Choir and organ together with a short talk by one of the elders. We are being well received at the station and have heard many favorable comments from our radio audiences. Through this medium we hope to stimulate serious thought concerning Mormonism by reaching many people heretofore not contacted. All indications point to a profitable field in the CT district via radio. [79]

But when Stephen L. Richards asked Roscoe Grover if radio had led to any converts, he could point to only one station manager who had been baptized. [80]

Although these comments reflected the feeling that radio was able to help missionary work, there were some concerns about the programs which matched those expressed by the New Haven study of the Yale student programs. The major problem for both was a lack of training. Yale divinity students had an advantage because they were asked to do the programs. Missionaries did not have the support of the radio stations. No matter how small the stations were and how much they needed programming, many managers were reluctant to give airtime to young missionaries coming in without any references. Joseph Smith Peery complained to James H. Moyle, “The only reason most stations won’t let our missionaries put on programs is because they are not sure of them and what they will produce. But if they could hear the programs first and know exactly what to expect they would jump for it.” He continued, “If some stations will consent to inexperienced missionaries giving untried, uncertain, mediocre programs, certainly a great many stations would put on a program that would compare favorably with the best programs in the air. The reason they will do this, is because all stations except the very largest have time that has to be filled at their expense. We could use that time.” [81] When asked how the mission dealt with untrained missionaries being asked to give the broadcasts, Roscoe Grover said he would sometimes go with the missionaries, but mostly he prayed for them. [82]

Mormon missionaries, like the Yale students, also did not understand their audience potential. This was especially hard for LDS missionaries, who often broadcast in areas where they had no members. When managers would give the missionaries time, it was usually at smaller stations “in the hinterland” where the station needed to fill time slots. The shows sometimes aired at times when few people listened. [83] The Eastern States Mission confirmed that the programs went to very small markets. Syracuse, New York, was the largest market, where the missionaries had one hour every fourth or fifth Sunday at 8:00 a.m. The other markets were very small. For example, Washington, Pennsylvania, had 24,545 residents; Poughkeepsie, New York, had 40,288; Jamestown, New York, had 45,135; Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, had 88,000; and Wellington, Delaware, had 106,597. The programs were broadcast early Sunday morning. [84] Keith Richardson told his wife, Dorthene, that he had no evidence that anyone listened. [85] The New Haven study rated national shows, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir had a very low rating. [86] Historian James B. Allen agrees that even in 1980, public communication experts believed “that whatever free time is available is usually the worst possible time, and few, if anyone would be listening.” [87]

The final issue in New Haven was failing to plan to meet the audience’s concerns. Mormon missionaries had one desire—to share their message. They rarely thought of what the audience might be interested in. The exception might be when the missionaries spoke about the Brigham Young film in the 1940s in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. But for the most part, the messages had no immediate connection. In addition, Joseph Smith Peery doubted that the radio programs had a regular audience. He told a missionary, Ora Prete, who wrote some programs, “In radio work such as ours we cannot expect much to carry over from one week to another. Therefore every program has to be a unit within itself so to speak. The hardest thing to remember in this work is that the people who listen to our programs are probably hearing . . . for the first time the things we are telling them so every detail has to be explained and made perfectly clear or they will not be able to follow and their interest will lag.” [88]

But the later New Haven programs had an advantage over the earlier Mormon broadcasts because they were not produced by one religious group. There were often problems when individual churches were given free time because other churches often demanded equal airtime. Heber G. Wolsey, who headed the LDS Church’s public communication, wrote in his history of KSL that Music and the Spoken Word succeeded because “the program is not fundamentally a Mormon Church program. It is, correctly speaking, a KSL-CBS public service feature.” He continued that the music and message were “non-sectarian in character” and that the network and KSL did not promote a particular religion. Wolsey explained that if the program was seen as religious, “many other religious bodies in the US could request comparable time on the CBS.” [89] The missionaries in Syracuse, New York, had this concern. When they were able to air a program, other religions asked the station for equal free time. As a result, the missionaries had less airtime. [90]

But the New Haven study pointed out that religious programs had problems beyond small audiences. The authors were especially concerned that the programs’ purposes were not clear. Were the programs to convert members to a specific religion? Were they to encourage people to attend church? Were they for shut-ins? Or were they to encourage moral behavior? [91] Richard L. Evans believed the purpose of the LDS Church broadcast was to “mold public sentiment” and felt that the press and the radio “combined are the greatest and most effect means today of molding public sentiment.” [92] Or as James B. Allen commented, Evans believed that radio should be used for mainly religious or inspirational information. [93]

That was not the reason for the Eastern States Mission radio programs, however. The mission leaders and missionaries wanted to interest people in the Mormon message so that they could convert them. Joseph Smith Peery told Ora Prete that her Book of Mormon stories should be more than just stories because “the Book of Mormon is not interesting because it tells stories but because it contains the gospel in its fullness.” But he liked her concept and added, “I think something like you are doing will actually sell the Book of Mormon to people and that is what we are trying to do. We can’t directly convert people by radio, but we can interest them to the extent they will investigate more fully.” [94] Peery told Moyle in his letter about a new program, “Always the thought must be kept in mind that these programs are for missionary purposes and must appeal to the average American.” [95]

The radio broadcast scripts that are available at the Church History Library are very similar to the missionary discussions that were developed later. For example, some of the topics the missionaries in Poughkeepsie talked about were revelation, the origins of Mormonism, the plan of salvation, the seventh article of faith, the Mormon exodus, and Indians of the house of Israel. [96] The Roscoe Grover series were entitled “Pictures of Mormonism,” “Mormon Sketches,” and “Teachings of Mormon Leaders.” Grover explained, “We feel that [the radio programs] should not take the place of tracting or meetings but that [they] may supplement our other efforts and heighten the joy and usefulness of our labor.” The shows could be “one of our show windows.” [97]


So how successful were the radio programs? In 1947, Albert L. Zobell looked back at the beginning of LDS radio programs and concluded, “Certainly, radio broadcasting in many tongues and climes, wherever missionaries have been called to labor, is one of the strong links forged into the Church missionary system today.” [98] In 1980, James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard agreed, concluding, “Missionary work was also enhanced by the increased use of radio, which by the 1930s was common in almost every home in America. In 1931, missionaries in the Eastern States Mission delivered more than 212 radio sermons in thickly populated areas, at no cost to the Church.” [99]

But both statements are very optimistic. Even in the Eastern States Mission, where James H. Moyle put a lot of effort into having the missionaries put programs on the air, only seven stations in the Eastern States Mission allowed programs. The stations that continued after Moyle was released as president were in the same towns as when he was president. So why did the radio not become a major part of the missionary efforts? There were two major reasons. First, it was the mission presidents’ and missionaries’ decision whether to encourage the program and take the incentive to contact the stations. Second, the stations had to be willing to let unknown, untried people on their station.

The missionaries asked for sustaining public service time. Roscoe Grover told the missionaries in their instructions that they should ask each station manager about their station power, their channel, and the time available. They should be clear that there was no cost for the program and there would be no pay. He explained, “We exchange our tale and message for time and power.” [100] According to James B. Allen, “Apostle Richard L. Evans, the first spokesman for Music and the Spoken Word, believed that the Church should only seek free time.” [101] That changed in 1960 when the stations were no longer required to give free time to keep their license. There were also changes when radio moved from mainly live shows to taped programs that networks provided. It became more difficult for someone to walk off the street and ask for radio time. Music and the Spoken Word was successful because it was broadcast over a network that KSL was an affiliate with. [102]

With this in mind, the LDS Church leaders, like other religious leaders, recognized that one of the best ways to broadcast was not to depend on “sustaining time” or the goodwill of stations. The Church could own radio, and later television, stations. In 1979, the Church owned thirteen commercial radio and television stations and three noncommercial educational stations. [103] The Church also recognized that purchasing advertisements in the Readers’ Digest could attract interest. Stations responded better to short (about the length of advertisements) public service announcements about family life called Homefront[104]

So what was the impact of the missionaries using radio? Bennion was correct when he wrote in 1936, “Much of the radio is being made, although for straight preaching its effectiveness has not yet been proved.” [105] LDS Church leaders have not given up on technology as a missionary tool, and the World Wide Web provides possibilities that were not available with radio. One advantage, of course, is that the web is free. But even more important than just money, the Internet is a lateral technology, whereas radio was more vertical and controlled from the top. Apostle M. Russell Ballard remembered that as a missionary, “the most common way for people to get news was through newspapers and radio.” After describing how important the printing press was, he continued that the Internet was “a modern equivalent of the printing press.” The new media “allows everyone to be a publisher, to have his or her voice heard, and it is revolutionizing society.” No longer do Church leaders have to depend on accurate reporters; the Church could post what it wanted on the Internet without any outside editing. [106]

Besides using the Church’s webpages, Ballard encouraged members, “With new technological tools, you can further the work of the Lord by joining an ongoing conversation about the Church.” He continued, “The emergence of a new media is facilitating a worldwide conversation on almost every subject, including religion.” He encouraged members to create blogs, post information on Facebook, and share their testimonies on the mormon.org webpage with this in mind. [107] While the missionaries had to wait to be invited to speak on radio, the members can now share their message directly with the world.


I would like to thank BYU communications professors Brad Rawlins and James Phillips for sharing at the 2010 Mormon Media Studies Symposium their research on what LDS leaders have said about uses of media.

[1] LeGrand Richards, in Conference Report, April 1944, 44. The scripture that he was referring to was probably Matthew 10:27: “What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.”

[2] George M. McCune, Gordon B. Hinckley: Shoulder for the Lord (Salt Lake City: Hawkes, 1996), 219. William Hewlett and David Packard, for example, were involved with radio when they were students at Stanford. My father, Bertis L. Embry, received an associate degree in radio from Weber State College and trained electrical engineers as a professor at Utah State University. See David Packard, The HP Way: How Bill Howlett and I Built Our Company (New York: HarperBusiness, 1995).

[3] eNotes,“The Golden Age of Radio,” accessed October 8, 2010, http://www.enotes.com/1930-media-american-decades/golden-age-radio; Martin E. Marty, The Improper Opinion: Mass Media and the Christian Faith (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1961), 25–26.

[4] Bruce Lenthall, Radio’s America: The Great Depression and the Rise of Modern Mass Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 56, 25.

[5] J. Gordon Melton, Phillip Charles Lucas, and Jon R. Stone, Prime-Time Religion: An Encyclopedia of Religious Broadcasting (Phoenix: Oryx, 1997), xii–xiii. Congress could control the airways based on the provision in the US Constitution that allows Congress to regulate commerce.

[6] Melton, Lucas, and Stone, Prime-Time Religion, 387–89. This section provides a history of “sustaining time.”

[7] Melton, Lucas, and Stone, Prime-Time Religion, xii.

[8] Melton, Lucas, and Stone, Prime-Time Religion, 387–89.

[9] Melton, Lucas, and Stone, Prime-Time Religion, xiii.

[10] Razelle Frankl, Televangelism: The Marketing of Popular Religion (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1987), 69. In 1969, television stations had two and a half hours per week of religious programs, which were usually on Sunday morning.

[11] Stewart M. Hoover and Douglas K. Wagner, “History and Policy in American Broadcast Treatment of Religion,” in Media, Culture and Society 19, no. 1 (January 1997), 7–27.

[12] Quoted in Albert L. Zobell Jr., “Radio and the Gospel Message,” Improvement Era, April 1947, 205.

[13] Earl J. Glade, “Preaching the Gospel through the Radio,” Improvement Era, January 1925, 241–43. According to Heber G. Wolsey, Earl J. Glade was a very important part of the early radio history. In “The History of Radio Station KSL from 1922 to Television,” Wolsey quoted a September 19, 1966, editorial in Broadcasting magazine that said that “radio’s miraculous first generation was fading into history.” An example was that Glade had died the week before the editorial was published. The editorial explained, “These men . . . cut the pattern that is today’s free-enterprising broadcasting structure. The present and future generations owe them a prayer and an everlasting debt.” Heber G. Wolsey, “The History of Radio Station KSL from 1922 to Television” (PhD diss., Michigan State University, 1967), 1.

[14] Earl Glade, Oral History, 1984, Emeritus Oral History Project, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.

[15] Glade, “Preaching the Gospel,” 244–45.

[16] Church History in the Fulness of Times (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2003), 506–7; Richard L. Evans Jr., Richard L. Evans: The Man and the Message (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1973), 38.

[17] Mary Pulley, Oral History, interview by Jerry D. Lee, 1973, 152, American Fork Oral History Project, Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.

[18] J. Spencer Cornwall, A Century of Singing: The Salt Lake Mormon Tabernacle Choir (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1958), 223–24, 229–30; Wolsey, “ History of Radio Station KSL,” 138.

[19] Heber J. Grant, in Conference Report, October 1924, 2.

[20] Heber J. Grant, in Conference Report, April 1935, 10.

[21] Charles W. Nibley, in Conference Report, October 1929, 116.

[22] McCune, Gordon B. Hinckley, 217–20.

[23] Sheri L. Dew, Go Forward with Faith: The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996), 92–94. In 1924, KSL had a show that had a variety of titles, but the title to which people usually refer is “Church Hour.”

[24] Lenthall, Radio’s America, 57.

[25] Marty, Improper Opinion, 25.

[26] Central States Mission Manuscript History, 1934, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City.

[27] “Southwest Missouri District,” “Reports from the Missions,” Liahona, the Elders’ Journal, December 10, 1935, 311; “Northern Indiana District” and “Reports from the Missions,” Liahona, the Elders’ Journal, November 24, 1936, 281.

[28] Central States Manuscript History, 1937, Church History Library.

[29] “North Central States Mission” and “Reports from the Missions,” Liahona, the Elders’ Journal, July 23, 1940, 91.

[30] Dorthene Richardson, conversation with author, November 2010; Dorthene Richardson to Jessie Embry, email, March 1, 2011.

[31] Central American Manuscript History, December 24, 1954; David Richard Roberts, Journal, 1954–56; Chile Manuscript History, September 1962, December 1962, and September 1963, Church History Library.

[32] See Jessie L. Embry and John H. Braumbaugh, “Preaching through Playing: Using Sports and Recreation in Missionary Work,” in Journal of Mormon History 35, no. 4 (Fall 2009): 53–84; and Jessie L. Embry, “Without Purse or Scrip,” in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 29, no. 3 (Fall 1996): 77–93.

[33] Glynn Bennion, “New Ways of Proselyting and the Reason Therefor,” Church News, January 25, 1936, 1, 7.

[34] Gordon B. Hinckley, James Henry Moyle: The Story of a Distinguished American and an Honored Churchman (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1951), 309–10.

[35] Mormon Democratic: The Religious and Political Memoirs of James H. Moyle, ed. Gene A. Sessions (Salt Lake City: Church Historical Department, 1975), 300.

[36] Mormon Democratic, 301.

[37] Mormon Democratic, 301; see also Eastern States Manuscript History, December 31, 1930, Church History Library; and “Eastern States Mission,” Liahona, the Elders’ Journal, December 30, 1932, 333.

[38] Eastern States Manuscript History, December 31, 1930, Church History Library.

[39] Eastern States Manuscript History, January 9, 1931, Church History Library.

[40] Eastern States Manuscript History, January 31, 1931, Church History Library; see also December 4, 1930.

[41] Eastern States Manuscript History, October 17, 1930; published in Liahona, the Elders’ Journal, November 26, 1930, 279.

[42] Eastern States Manuscript History, December 31, 1930, Church History Library.

[43] Pulley, Oral History, 1–3, 150, L. Tom Perry Special Collections.

[44] Pulley, Oral History, 150–51, L. Tom Perry Special Collections.

[45] Pulley, Oral History, 106, L. Tom Perry Special Collections.

[46] Joseph Smith Peery, Oral History, interview by Clinton D. Christensen, 2001, 2, 5, 7, James H. Moyle Oral History Project, Church History Library; Joseph Smith Peery, Mission Papers, 1931–1933, Church History Library. Peery’s papers include the letter to Moyle, Moyle’s letter to the Twelve, and a letter from Talmage to Moyle.

[47] Joseph Smith Peery, Mission Papers, 1931–33, Church History Library.

[48] Frank B. Walker to Roscoe A. Grover, January 25, 1933, and April 3, 1933; Chauncey Otis Rawalt to Roscoe A. Grover, March 29, 1933, and April 7, 1933, Roscoe A. Grover Letters, Church History Library.

[49] David Daniel Paine, Manuscript, Church History Library; Joseph Smith Peery to James H. Moyle, n.d., Peery Mission Papers, Church History Library; Eastern States Mission, 1947–48 Radio Scripts, Church History Library.

[50] Joseph Smith Peery to Presiding Bishopric, August 3, 1933, Peery Mission Papers, Church History Library.

[51] James E. Talmage to James H. Moyle, May 1935, Peery Mission Papers; Peery, Oral History, 5, Church History Library.

[52] “Eastern States Mission,” Liahona, the Elders’ Journal, December 20, 1932, 333.

[53] Mormon Democratic, 301–2.

[54] James H. Moyle to Joseph Smith Peery, July 23, 1933, Peery Mission Papers, Church History Library.

[55] Peery, Oral History, 1, Church History Library.

[56] Hinckley, James Henry Moyle, 325–36.

[57] Oliver Rollin Smith, Journal, May 17, 1936, Church History Library.

[58] Roscoe A. Grover, Oral History, 1979, introduction. James H. Moyle Oral History Project, Church History Library. Colton also developed the expanded Hill Cumorah Pageant.

[59] Grover, Oral History, 22, Church History Library.

[60] Grover, Oral History, 32–39, 23, Church History Library. The papers include Grover’s instructions to the missionaries on how to approach the stations, the need to rehearse the program at the station, how the script should be presented, and how to talk into the microphone. Grover explained these instructions in the oral history interview.

[61] “Eastern States Mission,” Liahona, the Elders’ Journal, July 23, 1940; November 12, 1940; December 10, 1940.

[62] Eastern States Mission Radio Scripts, 1947–48, Church History Library.

[63] Jonathan L. Walton, “Staying Human in a Media Age,” in Harvard Divinity Bulletin 39, no. 3–4 (Summer/Autumn 2011): 9.

[64] Marty, Improper Opinion, 62–63.

[65] Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton, The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1979), 270–71.

[66] James B. Allen, “Testimony and Technology: A Phase of the Modernization of Mormonism Since 1950,” in After 160 Years: The Latter-day Saints in Sesquicentennial Perspective, ed. Thomas G. Alexander and Jessie L. Embry (Provo, UT: Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, 1983), 188.

[67] Alexander Russo, Points on the Dial: Golden Age Radio Beyond the Networks (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), 4.

[68] Everett C. Parker, David W. Barry, and Dallas W. Smythe, The Television-Radio Audience and Religion (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1955), 102–3.

[69] Parker, Barry, and Smythe, Television-Radio Audience and Religion, 102–3.

[70] Joseph Smith Peery to James H. Moyle, Peery Mission Papers, Church History Library.

[71] Peery, Oral History, 7, Church History Library.

[72] “Southwest Missouri District” and “Reports from the Missions,” Liahona the Elders’ Journal, December 10, 1935, 311.

[73] “Southwest Missouri District,” Liahona, the Elders’ Journal, May 12, 1936, 547.

[74] Central Utah Mission Manuscript History, July 3–5, 1937, Church History Library.

[75] “Central States Mission” and “Reports from the Missions,” Liahona, the Elders’ Journal, July 23, 1940, 91.

[76] Eastern States Manuscript History, January 31, 1931, and December 4, 1930, Church History Library.

[77] Eastern States Manuscript History, October 17, 1930, Church History Library; published in Liahona, the Elders’ Journal, November 26, 1930, 279.

[78] “Eastern States Mission,” Liahona, the Elders’ Journal, December 20, 1932, 333.

[79] “Connecticut District,” Liahona, the Elders’ Journal, May 12, 1936, 547.

[80] Grover, Oral History, 29, Church History Library.

[81] Joseph Smith Peery to James H. Moyle, n.d., Peery Mission Papers, Church History Library.

[82] Grover, Oral History, 35, Church History Library.

[83] Peery, Oral History, 7, Church History Library.

[84] Eastern States Manuscript History, January 31, 1931, Church History Library.

[85] Dorthene Richardson, conversation with author, November 2010.

[86] Parker, Barry, and Smythe, Television-Radio Audience and Religion, 265.

[87] Allen, “Testimony and Technology,” 90–91.

[88] Joseph Smith Peery to Ora Prete, October 23, 1932, Peery Mission Papers, Church History Library.

[89] Wolsey, “The History of Radio Station KSL,” 151.

[90] Eastern States Mission Manuscript History, December 31, 1930, Church History Library.

[91] Parker, Barry, and Smythe, Television-Radio Audience and Religion, 408.

[92] Evans, Richard L. Evans, 149.

[93] Allen, “Testimony and Technology,” 190–91.

[94] Joseph Smith Peery to Ora Prete, October 23, 1932, Peery Mission Papers, Church History Library.

[95] Joseph Smith Peery to James H. Moyle, Peery Mission Papers, Church History Library.

[96] Poughkeepsie Manuscript History, Church History Library.

[97] Grover, Oral History, 32, Church History Library.

[98] Zobell, “Radio and the Gospel Message,” 255.

[99] James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992), 530–31.

[100] Grover, Oral History, 32, Church History Library.

[101] Allen, “Testimony and Technology,” 190–91.

[102] According to a Church Education System manual, “Over the years, thousands of people have come into the Church, after hearing the choir’s inspiring singing and the eloquent and spiritual Spoken Word. Thousands more have received additional comfort and hope from choir broadcasts.” Church History in the Fulness of Times, 506–7. While it is possible to count how many stations carry Music and the Spoken Word and maybe even give a Nielsen rating for radio and television, it is not possible to say how many converts there have been as a result of the program. So while it is clear that the program has had an impact, it is not clear how “successful” it is as a missionary tool.

[103] Arrington and Bitton, Mormon Experience, 270–71; Allen, “Testimony and Technology,” 190–92.

[104] Allen, “Testimony and Technology,” 188, 190–91.

[105] Bennion, “New Ways of Proselyting,” 7.

[106] M. Russell Ballard, “Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet,” Ensign, July 2008, 58.

[107] Ballard, “Sharing the Gospel,” 58.