Many people, who have attended the UCRMN Zoom webinars during the pandemic, have come to notice that computer technology is not my only hobby. Also, that I am a believer in the adage that if you do not study the past, you are doomed to repeat it, mistakes and all. Thus, the history of old time radio, (1920 to 1960) technology and its applications have always been of interest to me, especially since as a young teen, I helped out at a friend’s family TV and stereo store. What I have learned over the decades of technological change is that there are numerous similarities between the rise and growth of radio in the 1920s and the rise and growth of the Internet.
When radio became popular in the early 1920s, church services were broadcast on Sundays. These services were so popular that in the September 1929 edition of “Radio News of Canada”, an article mentions that when station CHYC in Montreal discontinued the broadcasts in 1928, a petition was gathered, as well as thousands of letters were sent to the station, to request this service be returned. Seven local churches came together to organize the return of the broadcasts, and the radio station even ordered more updated equipment, as the petition and letter campaign noted the benefits to shut-ins.
Another article in the same edition mentions a “heated” telephone call to the station when it went off the air. The reason was that the station’s antenna blew down. Well, these technological breakdowns can occur today as well, as churches move “online” with Facebook and YouTube. Numerous connection “glitches” happened to me as I experimented with online worship service broadcasts in 2014-15. Coincidentally, my earliest experiment was with audio only, just like the 1920s. The software that was used was from “MIXLR”. It is a subscription program that allows you to have your own online radio station. I connected the account to our church’s website and we were broadcasting live immediately. We are able to broadcast for up to 3 hours per day for a $100 annual fee. The program also allows you to record and store all of your broadcasts so that others can listen to them, if they are not able to tune in live. It does not actually require a computer to function, as there is an app available that allows you to broadcast from a smartphone’s microphone. Using a cellular connection, the church can now go live remotely for an outdoor service etc. Listeners, too, can listen to the service through the app on their smartphone. The advantage here, is that audio does not use as much data as an attempt to remotely broadcast with video on Facebook or YouTube.
In conclusion, MIXLR is a relatively inexpensive way to have shut-ins connect with your worship services, etc., especially in rural/remote areas with poor Internet speed. Moreover, it is a great backup plan for churches when Facebook or YouTube suffer from one of their software “glitches”. If you want to hear it in action, go to the Hillcrest United Church website, or if you have downloaded the app on your smartphone, search for “hillcrestunited”.
Here are a couple of helpful links:
Rev. Martin Dawson (Retired and living in Cornwall PEI)