On Friday 1 April, Morning Devotions will celebrate its 80th anniversary, which will also mark its official position as Australia’s longest-running radio program.
The programs home is now on 96five’s sister station – Hope 103.2 in Sydney. And while Hope 103.2 prepares to celebrate this devotional broadcast’s incredible milestone, and its faithful hosts over the decades, the identity of the original presenter is actually unknown.
It originated on 4BC Brisbane prior to Easter 1942 at 9.30am on Wednesday 1 April (Good Friday was April 3), and has also been known as Counsellor or Morning Interlude.
In 1949, Presbyterian Minister Reverend Vernon Turner, a visionary who later launched Hope 103.2, was asked to take over as presenter of Morning Devotions – the exact date is unknown.
The original quarter-hour program consisted of a short talk, two recorded hymns and a prayer, with the format eventually shortened to a talk and prayer lasting less than five minutes.
In 1953, Vernon moved to Sydney where he continued to record Morning Devotions on disc and sent them in to 4BC. By then, he had also established The Christian Broadcasting
Association, now known as Hope Media – that became the parent company of Hope 103.2 – which produced programs for commercial stations across Australia.
Morning Devotions became a daily feature on 2CBA Sydney in 1979, when Vernon launched the station now known as Hope 103.2.
Hope Media CEO Phillip Randall said Morning Devotions today remains one of the most popular features on Hope 103.2.
“We’ve heard from thousands of listeners saying it is part of their daily routine,” Mr Randall said.
“Many listen in their car before going into their office to begin work. Some have said the inspiration they’ve received has helped restore broken relationships, give life new meaning or
even convinced them not to end their life.
“Some have said the inspiration they’ve received has helped restore broken relationships, give life new meaning or even convinced them not to end their life,” – Hope Media CEO Phillip Randall
“It’s truly life-changing radio.”
After presenting Morning Devotions over six decades, Vernon handed the baton over to now presenter Major Chris Witts from the Salvation Army in June 1996.
Rev Vernon Turner’s last edition was aired on 2CBA on 30 August 1997.
Hope Media believes there could be two records associated with this program: the longest running program on Australian radio, and Vernon Turner possibly being the longest producer and presenter of an Australian radio program, having committed almost 48 years to Morning Devotions.