The Radio Pioneers Who Saw the Secular Age Coming, Many Decades Ago – And Founded Hope 103.2 - Hope 103.2

The Radio Pioneers Who Saw the Secular Age Coming, Many Decades Ago – And Founded Hope 103.2

In the 1950s, commercial radio in Australia was still airing “religious programming” every week. But Hope 103.2's founders sensed times were changing....

By Clare BruceFriday 25 Oct 2019Station NewsReading Time: 3 minutes

As Hope 103.2 celebrates 40 years since it began broadcasting across Sydney’s radiowaves, it’s amazing to realise the vision of the station’s founders.

The driving force among them, was Reverend Vernon Turner. Born in 1917, Vernon Turner was just a little boy when he developed a passion for electronics and radio. He was seven years old when he first made a microphone—out of “a Beecham’s Pills box, filled with carbon granules, a bit of micah, and a couple of bits of wire”.

Little did the young Vernon know he’d would one day establish a Christian media ministry, that would grow to have a global reach.

In the 1940s and 50s Turner did his theological studies, became an ordained minister, began presenting “Morning Devotions” for religious spots commercial radio, and founded the Christian Broadcasting Association – creating hundreds of recorded programs a week, sent on tapes to radio stations across the nation.

It was a different era back then. These were the days when commercial radio in Australia was still broadcasting “religious programming” every week – including devotions, teaching, dramas, interviews, and hymn-singing – to the general public.

But Reverend Turner was a visionary, and he sensed times were changing. He knew that the privilege of sharing the gospel on commercial radio, wouldn’t last forever.

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Believing that a place should be kept for the gospel to be heard on the radio by all people, he began applying for licenses to start a Christian radio station. It was no easy task. For more than 20 years, like a dog with a bone, Rev Turner applied over and over again for radio licenses, between the 1950s and the 1970s. Time and again, for various reasons, his applications were rejected.

The Birth of What is Now Hope 103.2

Finally, in the late 1970s, the Federal Government began a new category of radio license: Community Radio. And in March 1979, Australia’s first Christian radio license was granted to 2CBA FM, the station we now know as Hope 103.2.

With this license, our visionary Reverend did something unusual: he blended Christian content, with pop music and content that would appeal with the general public.

Hope Media CEO Phillip Randall says it was a genius move that wasn’t being done anywhere else in the world.

“Vernon’s intention was not just to appeal to Christians,” Phillip said. “He wanted to reach all [people] wherever they were, with the gospel message.

“So he adopted what was a really unusual format at the time. Today we call it an integrated format, or a mixed format, and at the time it was a real innovation.

“Our mission in 2019 is no different… to take the gospel to where people live on a daily basis.”

“Christian radio around the world was primarily focussed on discipleship. Vernon however, wanted to focus not just on looking after Christians, [but to create] content that’s familiar to the unchurched – as well as the Christian content that will share the gospel.

“Our mission in 2019 is no different to what it was when Vernon first started. And that is, built on a foundation of prayer, to take the gospel message into the broader community. To take the gospel to where people live on a daily basis.”

Today that mission is carried out through FM radio, digital radio, web streaming, podcasts, videos, web content, social media, live community events, and more.

In 2019 Hope 103.2 is celebrating its 40th anniversary with station tours, a celebration lunch, and the launch of its first independent News Service.

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