United Kingdom (MNN) — Sixteen commercial radio stations across the U.K. aired an Easter Sunday message that actually coincided with the approaching 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.
"We all know of the inspirational image of ‘the band that played on' as the Titanic sank," said William Rogers, chief executive of the UKRD Group, a British media company that owns the stations. "The band leader, Wallace Hartley, was a man of strong Christian values, and it seemed appropriate for us to reflect on the strength of his conviction as he went down with the ship, especially given the Christian message of Easter."
Survivors of the tragedy recall one of the musicians playing the hymn, "Nearer, My God, to Thee," on his violin before slipping into the freezing-cold water.
In the radio feature, Whistling Frog Productions blended voices, music, and an interview with Steve Turner who authored the book, "The Band that Played On." The five-minute radio feature carries the same name as the book.
"Religion is fundamental to many radio listeners, yet commercial radio has all but forgotten its place in society despite consultants and senior programmers ramming home the message that we should reflect the lives of our listeners," said UKRD's program director, Phil Angell.
"Whistling Frog Productions has supplied what I can only describe as a 21st-century thought for the day," he added. "Despite my initial pessimism at the outset of this project, I must admit to having been proved wrong. They have done a cracking job even though I am not personally religious."
Whistling Frog is HCJB Global-UK's radio team in Bradford, England. Chief Executive Colin Lowther said the staff is "delighted that the UKRD Group has opened up its airwaves to the Christian message this Easter."
"Our Titanic feature holds true to the way Jesus spoke to the crowds. It tells a story, it plants a seed, and is entertaining besides," said Lowther. "And with an audience of 80,000 listeners on Sunday, that's quite a crowd."
The radio feature aired on all 16 UKRD stations on Sunday, April 8.
The Titanic, a passenger liner built between 1909 and 1911, sank in the Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912, after colliding with an iceberg about three hours earlier. The tragedy occurred during the Titanic's maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City, resulting in the deaths of 1,517 people. Another 706 people were rescued.