Why Radio?

Posted in OLD The Archive

It began with one man who had a vision

More than 60 years ago the TWR vision was born in the heart of one man, Dr. Paul E. Freed. God placed an urgent burden on his heart to reach the tens of millions of people living in Spain with the gospel of Jesus Christ. That vision became a reality on 11 February 1952 by God's powerful intervention through the sacrifice and support of many individuals. On that historical day TWR was founded as a non-profit organisation for the mass communication of the good news of Jesus Christ over radio.

Broadcasts began on 22 February 1954 from Tangier, Morocco. The radio station was called "Voice of Tangier" and its signal reached across the Mediterranean Sea into Spain and deeper into the European continent. Programming began in two languages, Spanish and English, and by January 1956, the station had expanded by broadcasting to 40 countries in more than 20 languages.

Four years later, when the Moroccan government made the decision to nationalise all radio stations in the country, TWR moved across the Strait of Gibraltar into Monte Carlo and began broadcasting from a building constructed to air Nazi propaganda during World War II.

The exciting story behind this extraordinary beginning was recorded by Dr. Freed in his book Towers to Eternity, which can be downloaded for free off our web site.1

58 years later ...

The story of TWR continues today, broadcasting solid biblical truth in more than 200 languages and dialects, engaging hundreds of millions of people in 160 countries across the globe. TWR does this through 14 shortwave and AM transmission sites (three in Africa), a satellite distribution network in Africa, Europe and Asia, webcasts in 29 languages, and in collaboration with 2000 local AM/FM stations worldwide. The exciting story of how TWR set up an AM transmitter in West Africa has also been put into a book called Reaching Beyond Barriers and can be requested off the web site.2

But why radio?

Has the death-knell of radio broadcasting sounded by the arrival of the Digital Age? Absolutely not! Steve Shantz, TWR's Chief Information Officer, responds to this question,

"Although I focus much of my work on the online community, I am mindful of the billions of people who will never read content in a web browser, send a 'tweet' or even read an e-mail. If they are fortunate to own a cell phone, it would most likely not have a data plan for accessing the internet. This demographic majority will be with us for some time and the most effective way to reach them is through radio."

William Smith, of the US-based Academy for Educational Development, confirms this by reminding us that "one in three Africans own a radio, where with mobile phones it's one in 35; computers, one in 130; Internet access, one in 160. So the fundamental way to talk to and listen to Africans is still through radio ... "2

That doesn't mean that TWR isn't participating in the digital revolution. Yet, the key question today isn't, "is radio appropriate?" but rather "where is radio appropriate and in what form?" TWR uses as many tools as possible - established and proven or new and experimental, to bring a timeless message of hope to a world in need.

1. http://www.twrafrica.org/downloads/towers_to_eternity.pdf
2. http://www.twrafrica.org/publications-2.asp
3. Experts Say Radio Remains a Key Development Tool - Voice of America 1 Feb. 2007

Published: 22 January 2011