Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Classic Television: "Great Stories - Bible Stories"

Great Stories - Bible Stories [a.k.a. Great Bible Stories, Children's Heroes of The Bible] 

Children's animated series
Syndicated: 1969 - ????
Production:  John Rydgren, (writer); Betty Garth, (executive producer);
Paul Ballentyne, Robert Pastene, Niki Flacks, John Rydgren, John Lewin, Dale Waddell, Donald West, (voices);

Title Card for Great Stories - Bible Stories.
"Great Stories
Bible Stories
Stories that are true
They tell of God and his love for us
And his power too"

This was a series of 65 four and a half minute cartoons underwritten by the American Lutheran Church Department of TV/Radio/Films for $500,000. They were released in cooperation with the Broadcasting and Film Commission of the National Council of Churches. These cartoons were offered to TV stations for free, provided that they air them as part of a weekday series for children.

Title Card of "The Story of Moses"

Moses and his staff.

Moses and the Burning Bush
The shows were created by Cameo Productions, a Chicago based producer of TV and educational films that formed in 1962. Production on the series was announced as early as 1965, was promoted for distribution in 1967, but not copyrighted until 1969.

The opening title reads "Great Stories - Bible Stories" (also its copyright title) but in the end credits it is announced as "Great Bible Stories"
.
The timing for a color animated Bible series for children was very good. 1966 was the year that all networks began broadcasting in color, and the late 1960s is still famous for the domination of animation in children's programming. The limited animation is quite good for a 1960s series depicting realistic looking human characters and difficult visuals like massive armies, crowds, and the parting of the Red Sea. The voice work is also good and provided by seasoned actors. I found myself enjoy "The Story of Moses", "The Story of Jesus" and "Story of The Apostles" as told in multiple short episodes.

End credits logo for Cameo Productions, Inc., Chicago Ill.


The episodes were written by John Rydgren (1932 - 1968), the president of the ALC from 1962 to 1968, more famous for his unconventional Lutheran radio programs.

This series continues to entertain and teach after more than 40 years. Many episodes of Great Bible Stories were released on VHS in the 1980's and 1990's & more recently on streaming media and DVD under the title "Children's Heroes of The Bible". The DVD was given a "Faith Friendly All Ages" rating by the Dove Foundation. 

Sources & Citations
Information in this post is cited from various issues of Broadcasting magazine, the New York Times, other media magazines and the Catalog of Copyright Entries. Contact the author or leave a comment for a complete bibliography. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Classic Radio: More About "Bible Story For The Children", KDKA with Rev. William A. Logan


In a continuation of my post on Rev. William Logan here is the original text from KDKA's news publication that revealed the identity of the beloved story teller of the Bible Story For The Children  [a.k.a. Children's Bible Story, Children's Bible Stories] program.

Radio Broadcasting News, July 22, 1922, Vol. 2, No. 8. Page 1.

Old Stories in a New Way

We older folks read a story, are amused, and pass on to something else. But to the child the story becomes more than amusement. It grips his imagination and becomes for the time a part of his life. No matter how fantastic may be the situation portrayed, it becomes as real to the child as the home in which he lives. Impossible as the feats of the hero may seem to the older minds, the circumstances of childhood make them perfectly reasonable. Thus in the child's life, the story plays a necessary and important part. 

Some months ago the manager of station KDKA received a letter from one of the ministers who had conducted Radio Chapel. He suggested a series of "Bible Stories for Children" to be given each Sunday just before the Chapel Services. He offered to write the stories and read them to the children, but specifically requested that his identity should remain a secret. 

The stories were started and have been given each Sunday ever since. The children are among the most enthusiastic of radio listeners. Thousands of them heard these stories and expressions of their appreciation began to pour into KDKA. Parents listened and added to those of the children their requests for the name of the man who was interesting the children so keenly in the great heroes who are portrayed in Biblical history. So insistent have been these inquiries that at last the author of these "Children's Bible Stories" has consented to let the Radio Broadcasting News reveal his identity. What is even better we are showing the photo- graph of this popular minister on our front cover this week.  

Cover of Radio Broadcasting News, July 22, 1922, Vol. 2 No. 8.
From AmericanRadioHistory.com 

This friend of the children is the Reverend Wm. Logan, pastor of the Alpha Lutheran Church of Turtle Creek, Pa. We think the secret of his keen insight into the minds of the children, his kindred spirit with the girls and boys, and his extreme popularity, is explained by the audience shown in the picture, which may be reached without the use of radio, for it is daily with him in his home. And familiarity does not lessen the greatness of this story teller for Margaret, Donald, Bill, and Jean will tell you that "Daddy tells us the grandest stories." Thousands of boys and girls all over the country are thankful that the Logan "Kiddies" are willing to share one of their Daddy's stories each Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Classic Radio: Bible Story For The Children, KDKA with Rev. William A. Logan


Image of Rev. William A. Logan and four of his children
From the cover of the July 22, 1922 issue of KDKA Radio Broadcasting News.
From AmericanRadioHistory.com



For years I have tried to find out what the first Bible program in broadcasting for children was, and I may have found it. For now let's say that it is the earliest known children's Bible program. I wrote a little about this a few months ago and have pulled together more information.  In this blog edition I also have updates for the Radio and Television pages



Bible Story For The Children  [a.k.a. Children's Bible Story, Children's Bible Stories]
Children's (1922 - c. 1923, KDKA Pittsburgh)

This early program was the radio ministry of Rev. W. A. Logan. Being at the historic KDKA, the first commercial radio station, may mean it was the first children's bible program ever broadcast. Rev. William Armour Logan (1884 - 1966) was the pastor of the Alpha Lutheran Church of Turtle Creek, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He was born in Pennsylvania, the son of Scottish immigrants. He attended the Pennsylvania College at Gettysburg, earning his bachelors degree in 1910. According to the 1930 US Census his wife was Elsie May Chapman Logan, and the couple had at least 9 children. The Logan's the four eldest children, Donald, Jean, Margaret and William are the ones in the above image. According to some newspaper articles, Rev. Logan was active in concerns for Sunday School and youth ministries.

At first I was not sure if Rev. Logan started this program and if each and every Bible story broadcast was conducted by him. Thanks to the American Radio History website I was able to read the earliest newsletters of the KDKA station to learn more about this program. At first no one was credited for the broadcasts. Apparently as the program grew more popular, audiences wanted to know who was telling the stories. In the July 22, 1922 issue of KDKA's Radio Broadcasting News Logan was revealed to eager listeners as the host of the program. His name was mentioned with the program earlier in listings from the April 21st and the April 28th issue  of Radio Digest (look under Sunday, April 29).

Rev. Logan was also a regularly featured speaker on KDKA's Sunday afternoon chapel program. This researcher is still trying to discover the story behind how Logan became perhaps the first children's Bible host in broadcasting. At some point Rev. Logan submitted the idea of a Children's Bible program to the station manager. Logan would write the stories and do the program anonymously. That is until the public begged to know who he was. It would be incredible if Logan wrote scripts that still exist or if he published his stories in another medium. If anyone has any information about Rev. Logan, his life and ministries I would love to hear from you.

Find A Grave - Grave of William and Elsie Logan

Sample Broadcast Dates and Titles
The exact format and story contents of Logan's program are unknown. Below are sample episode dates and times pulled from newspapers and radio magazines. This program aired Sunday afternoons at various times between 12:00pm and 2:45pm EST. Note that broadcasts were subject to last minutes changes and radio listings may not have always reflected those changes.

1922-04-02 "The King of the Trees". (This is the earliest mention of this program I have found)

1922-04-23 "Planting Seeds in the Right Place".

1922-05-14 "A Baby Story for Mothers".

1922-05-28 "Two Boys-Two Gifts-Two Rewards".

1922-08-27 "Stumbling Blocks"

1922-10-01 "Trimmed Lamps"

1922-09-10 "Ideal Buddies"

1922-09-17 "Showing Off"

1922-10-01 "Trimmed Lamps"

1922-10-22 "Greedy Eyes"Norwich bulletin., October 21, 1922, Page 10, Image 10

1923-03-25 "The Children’s Hosanna"

1923-08-12 "An Ancient Perfume Box".  Evening star., August 12, 1923, Page 13, Image 41

1923-09-02 "The Man Who Built His Own Scaffold"Evening star., September 02, 1923, Page 9,


Rediscovering Rev. Logan and this program after 95 years is very special for the year 2017. This fall will be 75th anniversary of the longest ongoing children's ministry in broadcasting, Children's Bible Hour, as well as the 30th anniversary of Focus on The Family's Adventures In Odyssey. Reflecting on how long ministers of the Gospel have reached children via storytelling media should be an inspiration for generations to come.

RED TEXT - corrections made on July 31, 2017.

UPDATES
This series and several new ones have been added to the Radio and Television pages. I am also trying to make these pages more visual with more images to go along with the program summaries.


End title frame from Tales From The Great Book,
 the animated series based on the long-running newspaper strip by John Lehti.

An "Apologetics & Education" page that will include ministries like Answers With Ken Ham and American Minute is in the works!



Sunday, May 21, 2017

More Contenders for the FIRST Bible Kids Program.

Last month I excitedly (and cautiously) declared that KTBI's Aunt Martha's Children's Hour from 1926 MIGHT have been the first broadcast children's Bible program in North America. More research has led to the discovery of  not one but TWO programs that were on the air two years earlier.

So, going chronologically backwards here are two of the oldest ministries for children in American broadcasting. Both are also listed on my radio page.

Songbook cover (partial close-up) with a picture of Harry "Dream Daddy" Ehrhart
of "How Granny Told The Bible Stories". From the Author's Collection.

How Granny Told The Bible Stories -  (October 19, 1924 - c. 1925, WDAR Philadelphia; WLIT 1925).

Most likely this early radio series was based on the 1921 children's book of the same name by Eleanor Herr Boyd. Boyd was an author of several Bible teaching books which are still used to this day.

The "Granny" program was hosted or narrated by "Dream Daddy" Harry Ehrhart, one of radio's earliest children's "uncles" over WDAR - LIT on alternate Sundays. The station was later renamed WLIT in favor of the Lit Brothers who were co-owners of station.

Interestingly, today WLIT is WFIL-AM "Philadelphia Christian Radio" AND the call letters WDAR now belong to a FM contemporary Christian station in Darlington, South Carolina.


Children's Bible Story [a.k.a. Children's Bible Stories, Bible Story For The Children] - Children's (1922 - c. 1923, KDKA Pittsburgh)

This program aired Sunday afternoons usually around 2:45pm EST. This was the radio ministry of Rev. W. A. Logan of the Alpha Lutheran Church of Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania. Being at the historic KDKA, the first commercial radio station, may mean it was the first children's bible program every broadcast. It is unknown if Rev. Logan started this program and if each and every Bible story broadcast was conducted by him. From reviewing multiple newspaper schedules his name is the only one connected with this program.

Rev. William A. Logan (1884 - 1966) was the pastor of the Alpha Lutheran Church of Turtle Creek, Alleghany County, Pennsylvania. He was born in Pennsylvania, the son of Scottish immigrants. He attended the Pennsylvania College at Gettysburg, earning his bachelors degree in 1910.  According to the 1930 US Census his wife was Elsie M. Logan, and the couple had at least 9 children. According to some newspaper articles, Rev. Logan was active in concerns for Sunday School and youth ministries. This researcher would like to learn more about his life and ministry for children AND the events that led him to be perhaps the first children's minister in the history of broadcasting.

Find A Grave - Grave of William and Elsie Logan 


Monday, March 6, 2017

First Children's Bible Program(s) on Radio????

While researching radio magazines I learned about the historic radio station KTBI in Los Angeles. KTBI was the station for the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, or Biola University as it is known today. A weekday afternoon staple of this station was "Aunt Martha's Children Hour". Who was Aunt Martha and what were the contents of her radio hour? I absolutely would love to know!

Pg. 52 from Radio Doings magazine, January 8, 1927, that highlights radio station KTBI,
when the Aunt Marth's Children's Hour was on the air. 


Since KTBI is believed to be have been the first radio station devoted entirely to ministry, "Aunt Martha" may have been the first person with a broadcasting ministry for children in North America. So far radio logs that I have examined show that her program was broadcast every day of the week except for Saturdays over KTBI from as early as 1926 until sometime in 1927 or 1928.

Sometime in 1928 KTBI began broadcasting a different program called "Uncle Freds' Biola Children's Club" which aired weekdays around 8:00am. So far I am unable to find information about these programs beyond the standard radio log listings. I will be seeking more information on these early programs that I've also added to the "Radio Programs" page.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Updates To Begin 2017

I have been in several transitions from December to the present and have been away from blogging for quite a while. If the Lord is willing there will be more resources and media throughout 2017. However, I am happy to note several updates to the Family Bible Storytelling Media Pages.

- Thanks to Majesty Music and Bible Broadcasting Network, I have updates on the Patch the Pirate and Children's Music Room radio programs on the Radio Programs page. Also on this same page I have added a link to the Keys For Kids YouTube Channel where a user can view classic episodes of the Children's Bible Hour TV series

- The "Children's Television" page is now called simply "Television" as I will try to include dramatic Christian programming that was also geared to a general audience. All the children's programs that were listed before are still there along with brief descriptions of "Circuit Rider", "Greatest Story Ever Told (TV Version)" with more summaries coming soon.

- I was very sad to hear of the passing of BBN Radio founder and president Lowell Davey. He went home to be with the Lord on February 18, 2017 at the age of 83. My growing knowledge of Biblical dramatic storytelling and this blog would have been much, much, smaller without the ministry of BBN.

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