Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Send your gift of love

I've worked in the radio industry for fifteen years now, and there's nothing that makes me laugh more than American religious broadcasters. Mad as a sack of ferrets, the lot of them. We've got the First Amendment to thank for their continued presence on air, that US constituional guarantee that allows you freedom of speech, if people want to hear it or not. The Second Amendment (those one about guns) often gets a look in, as according to these nutters, Jesus would have packed heat given half the chance:

"Jesus told me to go out and get a gun. Because what are you going to do when you see that black guy raping your sister?"

An actual quote I once heard while listening to WRNO New Orleans one morning, the mouthpiece of the National Socialist White People's Party or similar organisation that's got a religious wing, a transmitter and far, far too much money; often sent to them by idiot listeners. Funnily enough, WRNO is now owned by a new bunch of right-wing lunatics - Clear Channel - and now features such deeply religious content as Babe of the Day and Shag Me or Bag Me, which is exactly what you think it is.

There are literally dozens of these stations. Most of them are pretty sterile, using the radio to spread the word of God in a not unpleasant manner, some of them taking their calling rather too seriously, broadcasting in every language known to man, including one or two they even made up. And esperanto.

However, there is some kind of dread fascination for the nutters - fire and brimstone, nazi jew-haters, send us your gift of love, we are approaching the final days. Get a gun, run to the hills.

My particular favourite happens to be one Brother Stair (The "Last day prophet of God", no less) and his Overcomer Ministry. This is one guy who has managed to get shedloads of money out of his followers by that old and trusted trick of telling them the world's going to end, so they won't need all those possessions and cash that'll bar them entry into heaven. Instead, dearly beloved, I'll take it off your hands and shoulder the risk myself. In another age, he'd be selling his patent cure-all medicine from the back of a wagon.

Apparantly, one mentally challenged donor coughed up a million dollars which he splurged on a transmitter in Germany to give us poor bastards in Europe crystal clear reception.

His message was clear: the world's going to end (he's been changing the date for this regularly for the last decade, and a promise to shut up shop if the biblical apocalypse failed to appear in 2000 was conveniently forgotten), and us sinner-sinners out there in radio land are all doomed unless we repent and send him our gifts of love and more women.

Ah, the women. Y'see, Brother Stair insisted that once you've sold all your possessions, the truly committed should come and live on his commune where a) you'd work like a dog in the fields and b) he'd have first go on your wife. And some of the followers were not best pleased with point b), especially when babies bearing more than a passing resemblance to the prophet Ralph Stair began to drop. The police were called, and soon it became abundantly clear that a) his false sect was based around forced sex and b) he was less driven as a prophet than he was for profit, and for those bloody awful puns I beg your forgiveness.

As far as I know, Ralphy-boy is still sitting in stir waiting for his turn in front of the beak. Unfortunately, his empire continues, and there's enough money in the kitty to keep repeats of his most bonkers recordings on the air, forever.

The advent of relatively cheap satellite television and the internet may one day put an end to these lunatics. The TV shows - and there are plenty to choose from on Sky, down among the shopping channels - aren't nearly as much fun, as the evangelists don't look nearly as good as they sound; and you're often put off by images of happy-clappy congregations and shots of puppies, flowers and nice stuff. They've also fallen foul of those dreadful killjoys at OFCOM, who have a bit of a downer on any barefacedlies and money-grabbing on their patch.

Give me radio any day. Switch on microphone, switch off brain. However, as your spiritual leader, I urge you to log on and send your gift of love RIGHT NOW or ...err... the puppy gets it.

The Scaryduck Archive

No comments: