a billy graham center archives exhibit
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In its second outreach to a national television audience, the BGEA found an approach to which it would stick.
 
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"...You [should] immediately try to secure the services of a New York Television Station which would carry our service from night to night for an entire month. New York could not be touched in the days of Billy Sunday and D.L. Moody. Now, due to televison, the City of New York can be touched for the first time in history." Letter from Billy Graham to a committee of New Yorkers who were trying to arrange a BGEA campaign in their city in 1952. May 29, 1951, From Collection 1, Box 6, Folder 7.

 The BGEA had first experimented with television in 1951, when it began a weekly television series on the ABC network called The Hour of Decision (the same name as its radio program, started in 1950). The program which was filmed in a studio and not live. Each episode was a half hour long and ended with a fifteen minute sermon by Billy Graham. The series went off the air in 1954.

Since at least 1951, Graham had wanted to try nightly or at least regular broadcasts of live crusade services and the New York Crusade provided the ideal occasion for the experiment. There already was a nightly television program, called Impact, which summarized crusade news Monday through Friday. Inquirers were encouraged to phone in and this marked the start of the BGEA’s telephone counseling program.

Despite lukewarm support from the crusade executive committee, Graham pushed for the crusade broadcasts. Starting June 1, the last hour of every Saturday night service was broadcast live nationwide over ABC. The response was staggering, an estimated 6.5 million viewers. It soon became clear that while 18,000 may be in the Garden, millions were watching on television. The Association had to develop methods to counsel the tens of thousands who called in after every broadcast. From this point on, television would be a major element in Billy Graham meetings.

Click below for items on Television
item 18: from Collection 16, NYC57 #IV
item 63: from Collection 7, box 5, folder 2
item 64: from Collection 544, box 4, folder 5
Television promotion
Phone counseling
Viewer response
item 65
item 66: from Collection 141, audio tape T6 and box 4, folder 37
 
Clip of first broadcast
Roger Hull excerpt
 
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© 2005 Wheaton College and © 2005 BGEA