Melodie Davis
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
HARRISONBURG, Va. (Mennonite Mission Network) — Archived Easter radio specials from the 1960s are now available for a new generation online at Third Way Café.
 
The Greatest Week in History, produced by Mennonite Media (then Mennonite Broadcasts), was originally released in 1965 and aired on 135 stations the first year; in 1966, 750 stations carried it.
 
Due to continuing demand by some stations, the four-minute reports have been re-released for this Easter season to a limited number of radio stations on CD, and on the Internet. The classic short radio broadcasts report in mock news style Easter as it might have happened.
 
Listeners get a you-are-there eye-witness report from the events of Passion Week beginning with the Palm Sunday triumphal entry through Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. The programs also include humorous and imaginary “news” from Jerusalem, such as snippets on a camel driver and chariot overturned in a narrow street and a girl rescued after falling into a well.   
 
Written and produced on a three-week crash schedule by prolific writers David Augsburger and James G.T. Fairfield, the programs include their voices among many Harrisonburg radio personalities of the time. Eventually the program was also translated and available in Spanish and Portuguese. 

Gil Poese, president and news director at KBRX Radio, O’Neill, Neb., remembers the original 33 rpm vinyl record albums containing Greatest Week in History and called Mennonite Media the day he received the new CD with the programming.

“I’m calling to congratulate you on putting the Greatest Week In History out on CD,” he said in a voice message. “I just received my copy this morning. We look forward to playing it and I appreciated that because we used the records for many, many years and people always enjoyed the ones at Easter and, of course, the ones at Christmas also.”

Station managers were also enthusiastic in their praise in the 1960s. A manager from a 50,000-watt station said, “I want you to know we experienced a very favorable and substantial audience reaction during the week and immediately following [this] programming.”

Brent Siegrist, pastor of Glade Mennonite Church in Accident, Md., e-mailed in response to news of the programs: "Thanks for providing the 'Greatest Week in History,'" he said. "My congregation normally has Lent readings. This year, we're going to have weekly news flashes instead between the prelude and the call to worship.”

For more information, visit www.thirdway.com.

The scripts and audio files for The Greatest Week in History are also available free at the Web site to stage re-enactments of the events of “Easter as it might have happened” in Passion Week services, devotionals, youth group or small group. Free CDs are available to those who wish to contact radio stations from Lois Hertzler at 800-999-3534 or email, loish@mennomedia.org. All materials can be accessed (scripts and audio) at Third Way Café,

 

 

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