Take the Time to Listen

When I was little, one of my great loves was the CBS Radio Mystery Theater. I discovered the CBSRMT the winter after we moved to California in 1977, and almost every night, I would curl up with my radio and listen (and usually fall asleep) beginning at 9 p.m.

Radio programming, like television, was a hit and miss affair. Some old radio shows have worn well, and some have not. The same was true of the CBSRMT. It was not always good. In fact, sometimes it was pretty awful. But it filled my ten and 11-year-old imagination well. And it was mine, space away from my parents and the awfulness that was school.

In 2009, Jennifer and I bought the whole series, which is available on DVD. Informally available, I think (carefully culled from recordings made by fans). But still for sale. While some episodes have had the commercials and newscasts stripped from them, some have not. And it’s fun, listening to CBS hourly news bulletins from 1974 or 1977.

But the commercials can be fun, too. I’d forgotten that the Mormons had blanketed the country with radio and teevee adverts in the 1970s (and early 1980s, I think). And I’d forgotten as well that the Franciscans also ran some commercials. Well, not really commercials. More like public service announcements. The kind of thing that people were going to spend money on in the 1970s, and haven’t spent money on since. (I recall Lutheran adverts too, come to think of it, but I may be wrong.)

This is one of several LDS Church adverts. It focuses on some significant LDS Church themes, but the underlying theme here is family. Make time to listen is, here, to also make time for family.

This in some ways could almost be the same advert, or at least serve the same purposes, as the above advert. No, that’s not quite it. It’s a mirror image of the above.  Tired of faking it, thinking that faking it would accomplish his goals, the speaker in this advert discovers that he finally gets the “everyday love” he wants be acknowledging his limitations and his finiteness too. He could be talking about anyone — coworkers, maybe — but it really sounds like he’s talking about his family. Or at least that’s how it feels:

By the late 1970s, there was less of this stuff on the radio, and by the early 1980s (the last year for the CBSRMT was 1982), it was gone completely. These folks advertised a lot well into the late 1970s, and it’s never really clear from their adverts who they are or what they believed.

It’s kind of odd to think that religious groups actually advertised, but I think was generally part of the whole “feel better about yourself” think that was drifting through the air in the early 1970s. I’m trying to imagine anyone doing this kind of thing today. It may be happening and I’m just not paying attention.