Airwaves of Zion, The
Throughout central Appalachia, small AM radio stations send forth a steady flow of country-western and gospel music, regional farm and industry news, local advertising and public service information, and a Sunday morning (and sometimes afternoon) fare of locally produced live religious broadcasts. Many of these "airwaves of Zion" programs have become part of the established cultural base of this region, having maintained their audiences for decades. Nevertheless, this genre is in danger of extinction as various social and economic forces combine with changes in the broadcast industry that threaten to drive these programs off the air.
For over twenty years, Howard Dorgan has been listening to "airwaves of Zion" program in the Appalachian regions of Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Avoiding editorial judgement and academic theorization, The Airwaves of Zion is Dorgan's first-person report on his own reactions to the people and events he encountered during his years of research. This ethnographic study provides an overview of radio evangelism in Appalachia by identifying its characteristics and origins and analyzing its present status. Dorgan trains his scholar's eye on four case studies within the genre, capturing not only the unique character of each of the respective programs and stations but a sense of the larger religious environments within which each case resides. This book preserves an endangered segment of the Appalachian religious experience, rich in the cultural values and evangelical traditions that make this region unique.