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December 19, 2021 8:02 pm  #1

The World Tomorrow

Does anyone remember "The World Tomorrow" with Herbert W. Armstrong (or if you're older, you might remember his son Garner Ted Armstrong until he was removed due to a sex scandal/power struggle)? Herbert was an old ad man turned radio preacher - but whose sermons had a early 20th century pitchman's rhythm to them. I recently did a deep dive after coming across old World Tomorrow broadcasts on YouTube, which reminded me how ubiquitous it and the "Plain Truth" magazine it published was in the 1970s and 1980s. Armstrong was one of the first radio evangelists - starting back in 1934 and founding what was originally, and appropriately called the Radio Church of God (Worldwide Church of God after 1968) - specializing in doom and gloom end-time prophecies, built around his predictions of the end of the world in 1975. (Somehow, his ministry continued even after that date came and went).

The daily half-hour radio sermon was broadcast over hundreds of radio stations and with a good antenna and a clear night you could tune in any time between 7 pm and midnight and find some station carrying it. In Toronto, I came across the show on CKO in the 1980s but it had previously been a 6 am mainstay on CKFH. 

Armstrong didn't get as much mainstream media attention as more flamboyant preachers such as Jim and Tammy Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, or Jerry Falwell but in his day he and his son probably had a far greater reach.

Unusually among broadcast evangelists, the Armstrongs never asked for money on the air - they never asked for donations and gave away their literature, including their magazine, for free. This is because, also unusually among broadcast preachers, the World Tomorrow was an actual denomination with a heterodox mixture of beliefs that included a version of Seventh-Day Adventism (rejection of Sunday worship, Christmas, Easter etc as pagan holidays), British-Israelism (the UK and US are the lost tribes of Israel), racism ("race-mixing" was against God) and apocalyptism with Armstrong literally being God's end-times apostle. . The World Tomorrow and Plain Truth had an audience of millions - and enough of audience - tens of thousands  - would end up actually joining the church and "tithing" up to 30% of their income - giving the church an income of over 100 million dollars a year by the 1980s.

Armstrong died in 1986 and the church collapsed a few years later when its leaders reviewed Armstrong's theology piece by piece and decided it was erroneous. The renamed themselves the Grace Communion church and are today a much smaller mainstream evangelical Protestant denomination. 

Last edited by Hansa (December 19, 2021 8:30 pm)


December 19, 2021 8:21 pm  #2

Re: The World Tomorrow

I very well remember this thing, because it played around 6 AM on the very first station I ever worked at. Everyone in the place hated it, because they knew it was a total tune-out for the programming that followed, but it was easy money for the station and management and the sales department were happy to have a tough timeslot paid for. 

There was another show that aired early Sunday morning (as in middle of the night) on WLS Chicago of all places, that I wonder if anyone else remembers hearing. It was called "Powerline" and unlike the World Tomorrow, this one was in keeping with the station's Top 40 format. It played uplifting rock music between the preaching, trying to attract the format's core audience. It wasn't fire and brimstone, just very subtle about its proselytizing. But it aired there for years. Not sure if it was on any other channel. 

Speaking of which, there's a rather annoying spot currently airing on both radio and TV locally, for what I think is the Billy Graham Association, which gives a long prelude about Jesus, then asks viewers/listeners to say a prayer along with the announcer. For some reason, I find this very uncomfortable and it doesn't exactly fit the programming of the stations where it's appeared. (Although it's not out of place on Yes TV, which has significant religious programming in some of its dayparts,)

They must be paying a lot of money for it - it's on constantly and even if it sounds a bit odd, stations appear to have it on high commercial rotation. I have nothing specific against organized religion, per se, but there's something vaguely creepy about this spot telling viewers they're all sinners and they should beg for forgiveness.

Hopefully, it's just for the Christmas season and not all year round. 


December 19, 2021 9:43 pm  #3

Re: The World Tomorrow

I also remember The World Tomorrow along with other religious and Italian language programming that CKFH was under contract to air during their early top 40 days. I occasionally heard it on KXEL in Waterloo, Iowa when they had a mix of religious and Country music programming.


December 20, 2021 2:25 pm  #4

Re: The World Tomorrow

Back To The Bible, Focus On The Family and Peter Popoff, I cued them up at various times at various stations.


December 20, 2021 2:32 pm  #5

Re: The World Tomorrow

The first station I worked at used to broadcast a church service every Sunday morning at 11 AM. The board op would set the levels for the priest or whoever was speaking and then basically leave the control room for the next hour, while it went on and on.

But they never seemed to notice (or care) that when the church organ kicked in, the VU meter would be pinned so hard, I'm surprised it didn't break the glass. It sounded absolutely blown out, incredibly distorted and just plain terrible.

The distortion was unbelievable and inescapable. But in all the time I was there, we never got a single complaint about it.


December 20, 2021 3:19 pm  #6

Re: The World Tomorrow

I'm not at all religious but I have to admit I did enjoy listening to "Unshackled" when I had to drive overnight on the eastern Ontario stretch of the 401. It's a daily radio drama, running since 1950, reenacting "true" stories of individuals who have been "saved " - but its production and story techniques haven't changed since the fifties - complete with organ music - so it sounds just like a old tyme golden age radio show. 

You can catch an episode here if you're curious:

     Thread Starter

December 20, 2021 3:29 pm  #7

Re: The World Tomorrow

Davey & Goliath was great until they got to that religious message stuff...

(You can actually watch the series for free on with no geoblocking.)


December 20, 2021 3:57 pm  #8

Re: The World Tomorrow

Does anyone remember Charles Templeton? He was a barnstorming evangelist in the 40s and 50s, alongside Billy Graham, and was  a radio evangelist on CKEY and CHUM in the 1940s and then host of "Look up and Live" on CBS in the 1950s (back when networks actually sponsored religious programs as part of their public service writ). Then, in 1958 he had a crisis of conscience, declared himself an agnostic, and returned to Canada where he had a varied career including managing editor of the Toronto Star, editor of Macleans, a failed bid to become leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, director of public affairs programming and host on CTV (including co-anchoring their coverage of the moon landing) and for about 20 years as co-host with Pierre Berton of "Dialogue", a daily debate/commentary segment first on CFRB and then from 1970 until 1983 on CKEY as well as being CKEY's morning news reader. 

     Thread Starter

December 20, 2021 4:18 pm  #9

Re: The World Tomorrow

I remember my first real gig when I was a young'n doing weekend overnights.  On Sunday morning at 6 the music director (who was also the swing announcer) would come in to take over and play the god shows.  I didn't always have access to a car and when that the case, I'd have a nap in the lounge downstairs and set my watch to wake me about 10 minutes before the first bus would come by at 8:30 in the morning.  I'd keep the monitor on so I didn't fall to heavily asleep and miss my the alarm or my bus.

One Sunday morning I fell asleep only to wake up to a female voice screeching:


Being half asleep, it was quite jarring.  I stood right up and looked around..  It woke me up about 5 minutes earlier than I normally would have.

But speaking of church services, that same swing announcer always pronounced the name of the church of "Cavalry" until someone at the station noted it a few months later.  Not a peep from the audience.


December 20, 2021 4:52 pm  #10

Re: The World Tomorrow

I remember Garner Ted very well.  6 a.m. on CKFH, Mon-Fri and 9:05 p.m. Mon-Fri on CKLB in Oshawa.  Imagine.  Top 40 from 5-9 pm.  News break, followed by Garner Ted rill 9:35.  Then back to music till 11 pm.  Strange; but true.


December 21, 2021 1:24 pm  #11

Re: The World Tomorrow

At my first fulltime station,CKOK Penticton, good old Garner Ted and the WT played each and every night at nine thirty on the dot leading up to a ten pm news block...right in the middle of the evening rock show. His contract with the station must have been rock solid,because he was  there when I arrived in 73,and still there into the 8os until the new owners bought out of the arrangement. Yes, the broadcast brought in huge money to the station on a yearly basis,but what a horrid tune out...and the numbers showed it. However,money talked. His dad Herbert W. held forth on Sunday nights with his own show. Tape on,monitor down.


Last edited by BossRadio (December 21, 2021 1:26 pm)


December 21, 2021 2:22 pm  #12

Re: The World Tomorrow

With the, um, advent of Christian radio, it's much rarer to hear preachers on commercial radio. Can anyone think of holy rollers or small town preachers who still buy time on mainstream radio stations - or local stations that still schedule them? 

     Thread Starter

December 21, 2021 4:13 pm  #13

Re: The World Tomorrow

How is Oral Roberts do'in?  Is he still holed up in that prayer tower?  


December 21, 2021 6:28 pm  #14

Re: The World Tomorrow

Back when I first started in the biz,(1976) my first gig was slave labour at CFPA radio in Thunder Bay, 6 to midnight 6 days a week.  And on the sixth day 3:30 to midnight.  Every day at 6 pm it was Back to the Bible. At 6:30 it was another canned religious program that started with boat sound effects and that's the only thing I remember about it!   On Sunday, a local Baptist preacher got into the act with his show and some of the time he talked about circumcision.  No kidding!  I'm 21 years old, what was with this circumcision stuff.  I think I lead a sheltered life.


December 21, 2021 6:39 pm  #15

Re: The World Tomorrow

Glen Warren wrote:

How is Oral Roberts do'in?  Is he still holed up in that prayer tower?  

Died in 2009.