Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Classic Radio: Unshackled - Happy 65th Anniversary


9/23/1950 - present. Syndicated.  
Production: Pacific Garden Missions, Chicago, Illinois
The Longest Running Broadcast Drama In History!
Official website: www.unshackled.org

It was 65 years ago this week that Unshackled debuted over WGN in Chicago with the dramatization of the life of evangelist Billy Sunday.

Above: One of the earliest press articles on "Unshackled" from Broadcasting, March 24, 1952.
Click on the image to read in context of the original magazine.

This broadcast series tells the true stories of countless individuals whose lives were "unshackled" by salvation in Jesus Christ.  Probably none of the original cast and crew members could have ever imagined that radio drama would soon cease on the major networks (NBC, CBS, ABC, Mutual,) and only Unshackled would go on to have an audience who would tune in more than a half century later for any of the 7,000 times it is broadcast a week, to listen in 15 languages in over 140 nations.

Unshackled holds a special place in my heart. As a teenager, I was an old-time radio collector and an usher in the church who secretly struggled with an addiction to pornography.  One day as I was fiddling with my radio I was startled to hear a radio drama on a random AM station and the program was telling the story of an alcoholic whose life was transformed and renewed by Jesus Christ.

This program was Unshackled, and I wanted to hear more.  My amazement was from so much more than hearing a current radio drama. This was the first time in my life that I truly understood that not only did Jesus want me free from this addiction, but that he was still with me and if he could do it for that man whose story I heard on the radio, then he could do it for me too. The stories on Unshackled have ministered to me countless times and I have partly created this blog so that more people can learn about the dynamic media ministries like Pacific Garden Missions Unshackled, whom God has ordained to preach the gospel to the world.

I hope that Unshackled will stay on the air for many more years. Unlike 99% of broadcast dramas on radio or television, Unshackled has as its fuel, a theme that will never end.........lives transformed by the Gospels and redeemed by the love of Jesus Christ.

Internet resources for the history of Unshackled:

For a Chicago Tribune Article recognizing the series 65 years:

For a more complete history of Unshackled please visit their official history page:
at http://www.unshackled.org/history_1.html 

For biographical information on one of the series earliest scriptwriters, producers and directors, Eugenia Price (1916-1996)

Also seek out these texts from used bookstores and libraries:

Bailey, F. C., & Unshackled (Radio program). (1962). These, too, were unshackled: 15 dramatic stories from the Pacific Garden Mission. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House.

Price, E. (1982). The burden is light: The autobiography of a transformed pagan who took God at his word. New York: Dial Press.

Price, E., & Bailey, F. C. (1953). Unshackled: Stories of transformed lives, adapted from "Unshackled" radio broadcasts: stories from Pacific Garden Mission. Chicago: Moody Press.

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