The Protestant Voice of Europe. American Evangelicals conquering the airwaves of Europe (1945-1965)
In the two decades after the Second World War, conservative American radio evangelists devised several large-scale projects to preach the gospel in Europe, which they viewed as the crowning piece of their plans for a global missionary project over the airwaves. Launching a Protestant “Voice of Europe” via medium-wave radio raised a series of unique challenges that they had not faced in North America or in southern countries. Success finally came from an unexpected source: the Youth for Christ evangelisation movement and beginning radio evangelist Paul Freed, a Baptist. By broadcasting from a series of commercial sites on the outskirts of Continental Europe (in Tangiers, Monaco and the Dutch West Indies), Freed developed a powerful formula that combined the syndicated broadcasting of American religious shows on both long and short-wave frequencies, and partnerships with local evangelicals. By looking at post-war European radio broadcasting from an atypical perspective, this paper gives a nuanced view of radio broadcasting being defined by national territorial boundaries, public service and state-owned broadcasters. It places the two-decade period back into the broader continuum of the history of radio broadcasting in Europe and the more general context of global radio activities.