The Airwaves of Zion: Radio and Religion in Appalachia by Howard Dorgan (review)

The Airwaves of Zion: Radio and Religion in Appalachia by Howard Dorgan (University of Tennessee Press, 1993)

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The Airwaves of Zion: Radio and Religion in Appalachia by Howard Dorgan (review)

by Bennett L. Steelman
Southern Cultures, Vol. 1, No. 4: Southern Humor

University of Tennessee Press, 1993

For much of the mainstream media, religious broadcasting evokes images ofJim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Jerry Falwell, or Pat Robertson. Yet, as Howard Dorgan reminds us, an older, still lively folk-oriented tradition survives on Sunday mornings (and occasionally Sunday afternoons and Saturdays) on dozens of am radio stations across the mountain regions of Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. These locally produced, live religious broadcasts—ad hoc mixtures of preaching, gospel singing, and personal testifying—vary widely from community to community. After several years of observation and field study, however, Howard Dorgan, a professor of communications at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, has identified many common threads.