“The radio committee has been busy this week, and as a result the broadcasting microphone is now installed on the rostrum of the auditorium.”UnityNews, November 4, 1922
How 100 Years of Radio Shaped the Unity Message
“The radio committee has been busy this week, and as a result the broadcasting microphone is now installed on the rostrum of the auditorium.”—UnityNews, November 4, 1922
Unity has a near century-long and dynamic broadcast history that began July 16, 1922, when Unity School of Christianity went on the air with its first radio talk on WOQ—one of the first commercial radio stations in the Midwest.
Unity started “broadcasting” its message over the airwaves in the early 1920s, not long after America heard its first-ever national radio broadcast.
How Unity Fits Into American Radio History
America heard its first-ever radio broadcast from station KDKA, in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, November 2, 1919, when the 1920 election results were announced.
Two years later, Kansas City area 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.
The Unity Message Reaches Across a Nation
A 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.
With advances in radio communication, a microphone was placed in the Unity Auditorium at the Tracy headquarters. Fillmore broadcasted his talks in greater personal comfort.
The increased size of the radio transmitter and bandwidth enabled the Unity message to reach an international audience. Listeners in Havana, Cuba, heard a Wednesday night Unity message broadcasted in early November 1922. In December 1923, Fillmore and a team of local teachers joined in broadcasting an 11 p.m. service that included song, meditation, and healing messages.
By 1924 Unity leaders purchased radio station WOQ and moved the studio to its 917 Tracy Street location in Kansas City, Missouri. Unity would go on to own and manage the station throughout the next 10 years.
The Fillmore Passion for Radio
One hot summer afternoon a Unity worker recalled seeing Charles Fillmore emerge from the broadcast room, his face dripping wet with perspiration.
His shirt was completely soaked from his hour-long broadcast. The worker learned that background noise issues required all ventilation and fans turned off. The room temperature was most uncomfortable. This did not slow Fillmore down, however. Often an animated speaker, he gave an enthusiastic talk that day.
Beyond WOQ: Nearly 100 Years of Radio
By 1934 it became more economical to purchase broadcast time from local radio stations that reached audiences worldwide. Unity radio WOQ broadcasting ended at midnight on June 12, 1934, but that was just the beginning.
Following WOQ, Unity officials launched broadcasting stations at 12 different locations across the United States and amazingly in Auckland, New Zealand. These stations were under the direct supervision of the Unity Radio Department. In the 1930s, Unity broadcasting could be heard in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The Unity message had truly become worldwide.
During the next 20 years, Unity programs would appear on as many as 65 radio stations.
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 started with about a dozen members and grew to an 80-member symphonic orchestra with community musicians.
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.
Past popular speakers on Unity Radio included: Fayette Drake, Francis Gable, Lowell Fillmore, Ernest Wilson, and, of course, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore.
Unity Online Radio Today
Today Unity operates Unity Online Radio, with hundreds of hours of free spiritual radio programing from a wide variety of Unity and New Thought leaders, available live and for download.