Now Online with More to Come: Progressive Radio Programs from the Pulpit: The WRVR-FM (Riverside Church, NY) Collection

The Peabody Award winning radio program WRVR-FM features sermons, speeches, event coverage and more

Visit the collection here.

The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) is pleased to make available digitized radio programs from The Riverside Church in New York City (WRVR-FM). In 2018, the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) awarded a grant to The Riverside Church and the AAPB to digitize, preserve, and make publicly accessible previously unavailable archives of the Peabody Award winning radio station WRVR-FM. More items will be added to the AAPB’s Online Reading Room over the next year as additional items are digitized.

Access the collection here:

Owned and operated by The Riverside Church, WRVR went on the air in 1961 with religious programming and coverage of cultural and higher-education events, as well as classical and jazz music. The WRVR-FM Collection in the AAPB spans the years 1961-1973 and includes 1,072 Just Jazz with Ed Beach episodes, as well as 2,443 other recordings that resided at Riverside. In 1971, the station shifted to an all-news format, with the exception of the Just Jazz with Ed Beach program, which continued until 1973.

As an interdenominational, interracial, and international church, The Riverside Church has long been a center of activism and social justice. WRVR is the first station to win a Peabody for its entire programming, in part for its documentary coverage of the civil rights movement in Birmingham in 1963.

Progressive religious and philosophical discussions in the collection include topics on the antiwar movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Cold War, religion, and fine arts by laypersons and famed scholars. Programming also includes addresses by political and cultural leaders such as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who delivered his pivotal “Beyond Vietnam” speech at the Riverside Church over WRVR-FM on April 4, 1967.

Materials in the collection are in a variety of languages, including English, Spanish, Hebrew, French, Indonesian, German, and Gaelic. For those interested in assisting us with making this collection available online, we welcome you to visit the WRVR transcript editor in order to edit transcripts for keyword searchability. This collection was created in honor of Ricki Moskowitz, former Archives Director at Riverside Church. Ricki was a strong advocate for the digital preservation of the Riverside Church’s WRVR-FM radio materials and played an invaluable role in making this collaboration possible.

Featured Items

Portion of the Week Series

In this episode from 1962, Rabbi Feldman reads various parts of the Bible with Rabbinic commentary. Part 1 reviews the Hebrew passage of Vayakhel.

Un Mensaje Para Ustedes

In this episode from 1962, Reverend Pablo Cotto reads from Matthew 6 verse 33 to Verse 14 from Chapter 7, examining themes such as judging others. He feels that his community is more racist than others and that love and service for Christianity/Church should be first then the self should be second.

Cambodia – What Now, What Next?

Created by the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in 1970, this series of programs discussions Cambodian history and the involvement of the US.

Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence

A documentary recorded in Birmingham, Alabama, Mother’s Day, May 12, 1963. The previous night, the parsonage of A. D. King was bombed, as was the Gaston Motel, where King’s brother, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and a leader of the Birmingham movement, had been staying. Extensive rioting followed. The documentary includes commentary from various unnamed persons in Birmingham, including girls who participated in demonstrations and were arrested, and their mothers. The program also presents sermons by Birmingham clergy, discussions on the contributions of women to the movement, and a speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam

A 1968 press conference of religious leaders commenting about their opposition to the Vietnam War.

This project is funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). Learn more about the grant project here.

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