Unity started “broadcasting” its message over the airwaves in the early 1920s, not long after America heard its first-ever national radio broadcast.
In this installment of its Treasures of the Archives series, Unity Archives draws from its extensive collection of data and artifacts and takes a look at Unity broadcast history.
Uncovered is a dynamic broadcast history that officially began in July 16, 1922, when Unity School of Christianity went on the air with its first radio talk on WOQ, which is recognized as the first official commercial radio station in the Midwest.
The Unity talk show soon became a regular Sunday feature for many listeners using crystal-set receivers with individual headphones, according to the archives.
“Radio is opening up a new field of activity in the use of the spoken word,” Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore said at the time.
Americans heard their first-ever national radio broadcast from station KDKA, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when the 1920 election results were announced: Ohioan Warren G. Harding would be the next President of the United States.
Two years later, Kansas City, Missouri, radio supply house owner Arthur R. McCreary and furniture manufacturer O. F. Mehornay purchased the first commercial radio station license in the Midwest, forming 9XAB on March 10. They acquired the call sign WOQ, according to Department of Commerce broadcasting licensing records.
By 1924, Unity leaders purchased radio station WOQ and moved the studio to its 917 Tracy Street headquarters in Kansas City. Unity would go on to own and manage the station throughout the next 10 years, with its last broadcast in 1934.
Dr. Carl Frangkiser, a musician and composer of religious and secular music, served as director of the radio and television department at Unity School of Christianity starting in 1930. He also was a longtime director of the Unity Concert Band, which began with about a dozen members and grew to an 80-member symphonic group with community musicians.
During the next 20 years, Unity programs would appear on as many as 65 radio stations.
The Unity Archives’ collection has more than 500 phonographic recordings from 1925 to 1976, including Unity teachings, and healing and prosperity statements by Charles Fillmore, such as “A Quiet Time of Prayer With the Founders of Unity” and “Unity Worker’s Song,” and recordings by the Unity Concert Band.
The collection also includes a recording of Fillmore’s composition, “God Bless You, Everyone,” recorded for the radio program Unity Viewpoint.
Today, Unity operates Unity Online Radio, with hundreds of hours of spiritual radio programing from a wide variety of Unity and New Thought leaders. It delivers programming to listeners in more than 128 countries around the world.