C. Parker played a leading role in the development of public interest
of American television. He served as director of the Office of Communication
of the United Church of Christ from 1954 until 1983. In that position,
he was at the forefront of Protestant communications, overseeing
the public media activities of one of the leading mainline Protestant
religious groups. He is better known, however, for two other contributions:
his leadership in the development of an influential media reform
and citizen action movement in broadcasting; and his activism directed
at improved broadcast employment prospects for women and minorities.
Near the end of his career, he was named one of the most influential
men in broadcasting by the trade publication Broadcasting Magazine.
Parker had an early career in radio production. After a year at
NBC in New York, he founded and became head of an interdenominational
Protestant Church broadcasting organization, the Joint Religious
Radio Committee (JRRC). The JRRC was formed to serve as a counterbalance
to the dominance of the Federal Council of Churches in public service
religious broadcasting. Besides its impact on programming, the JRRC
also addressed the impact of media on society and public interest
issues in broadcasting. The JRRC was an early vocal supporter of
reserved FM frequency assignments for educational use, for example.
1945 until 1957, Parker was a lecturer in communication at Yale
Divinity School, and from 1949 until 1954, he also headed the Communication
Research Project, the first major study of religious broadcasting.
This project resulted in the definitive work on religious broadcasting
for nearly two decades, The Television-Radio Audience and Religion,
co-authored by Parker, David Barry and Dallas Smythe.
1954, he founded the Office of Communication of the United Church
of Christ, the first such agency to combine press, broadcasting,
film, research, and educational functions in one unit. The office
pioneered programs to improve the communication skills of ministers,
to improve the communication activities of local churches, and to
use television for education. It also participated in the production
of some landmark television programs, including Six American
Families, a nationally-syndicated documentary series produced
in collaboration with Westinghouse Broadcasting Company and the
United Methodist Church.
The work of Parker and the Office took an important turn in the
1960s, as the civil rights movement was gaining momentum. After
reviewing the civil rights performance of television stations in
the South, the Office identified WLBT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi
as a frequent target of public complaints and Federal Communication
Commission (FCC) reprimands regarding its public service. In 1963,
the Office filed a "petition to deny renewal" with the FCC, initiating
a process that had far-reaching consequences in U.S. broadcasting.
The FCC's initial response to the petition was to rule that neither
the United Church of Christ nor local citizens had legal "standing"
to participate in its renewal proceedings. The UCC appealed, and
in 1966, Warren Burger, then a Federal appeals court judge, granted
such standing to the UCC and to citizens in general. After a hearing,
the FCC renewed WLBT's license, resulting in another appeal by the
UCC. Burger declared the FCC's record "beyond repair" and revoked
WLBT's license in 1969.
on this new right to participate in license proceedings, Parker's
office began to work with other reform and citizens' groups to monitor
broadcast performance on a number of issues, including employment
discrimination and fairness. In 1967, the Office's petition to the
FCC dealing with employment issues lead to the Commission's adoption
of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) rules for broadcasting. In
1968, it participated as a "friend of the court" in the landmark
Red Lion case, which confirmed and expanded the Fairness Doctrine.
and the Office continued to play a central role in the developing
media reform movement throughout the 1970s and 1980s in cooperation
with organizations such as Citizens' Communication Center, the Media
Access Project, the National Citizens' Committee for Broadcasting,
Ralph Nader's Public Citizen organization, and a variety of other
religious and civic groups. The attention of this movement broadened
in subsequent years to include cable television and telecommunications
and telephone policy. These organizations became active in the developing
change in regulation and eventual break-up of AT and T during the
period from 1978 to 1984.
In his later years, Parker devoted more attention to issues of employment
in broadcasting and the communication industries. In 1974 he established
Telecommunications Career Recruitment, a program for the recruitment
and training of minority broadcasters, with the cooperation and
support of the Westinghouse Broadcasting and Capital Cities Broadcasting
On his retirement in 1983, Broadcasting Magazine somewhat
grudgingly hailed him as "the founder of the citizen movement in
broadcasting" who spent "some two decades irritating and worrying
the broadcast establishment." In retirement, Parker took up a post
at Fordham University in New York at a center named for his friend
and colleague, Don McGannon, long-time president of Westinghouse
Broadcasting Company. Everett C. Parker passed away on September 17, 2015.
M. Hoover and George C. Conklin
C(ARLTON) PARKER. Born in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., 17 January
1913. Educated at University of Chicago, A.B. 1935; Chicago Theological
Seminary, B.D. magna cum laude 1943, Blatchford Fellow, 1944-45,
D.D. 1964; Catawba College, Salisbury, North Carolina, D.D. 1958.
Married: Geneva M. Jones, 1939; children: Ruth A., Eunice L., and
Truman E. Began career as assistant public service and war program
manager, NBC, 1943-45; lecturer in communication, Yale Divinity
School, 1945-57; founder and director, Protestant Radio Communications,
1945-50; founder and director, Office of Communication, United Churches
of Christ, 1954-1983; editor-at-large, Channels of Communication
Magazine, 1983-84; Professor, Fordham University, from 1983;
founder, Foundation for Minority Interests in Media, 1985. Honorary
degrees: L.H.D., Fordham University, 1978; L.H.D., Tougaloo College,
1978. Recipient: Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia University Award; Human
Relations Award, American Jewish Committee, 1966; Faith and Freedom
Award, Religious Heritage Broadcasting, 1969; Roman Catholic Broadcasters
Gabriel Award for public service, 1970; Lincoln University Award
for significant contributions to human relations, 1971; Racial Justice
Award, Committee for Racial Justice, United Christian Church, 1973;
Public Service Award, Black Citizens for a Fair Media, 1979; Pioneer
Award, World Associate for Christian Communications, 1988. Everett C. Parker passed away on September 17, 2015.
Off to Adventure
1965 Tangled World
1977 Six American Families (series)
The Pumpkin Coach, 1960; The Procession, 1961; Tomorrow?,
Religious Radio: What to Do and How. New York: Harper's, 1948.
Use in Church. New York: Broadcasting and Film Commission of
the United Churches of Christ in the United States, 1953.
The Television-Radio Audience and Religion, with David W. Barry
and Dallas W. Smythe. New York: Harper's, 1955.
Television: What to Do and How. New York: Harper's, 1961.
Radio, Film for Churchmen. New York: Harper's 1969.
"Old Time Religion on TV--Blessing or Bane?" Television Quarterly
(New York), Fall 1980.
Charles. "After 30 Years, This Media Watchdog Still Vigilant." The
New York Times, 28 August 1983.
Les. Keeping Your Eye on Television. New York: Pilgrim Press,
J. Harold. Models of Religious Broadcasting. Grand Rapids,
Michigan: Eerdmans, 1974.
Jennings, Ralph. Policies and Practices of Selected National
Religious Bodies as Related to Broadcasting in the Public Interest."
(Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1969).
Paul. Christian Communication: A Bibliographic Survey. New
York: Greenwood, 1989.
Parker to Step Down." Broadcasting (Washington, D.C.), 14