Archives On The Air 238: Seth Parker's Radio Show — Phillips H. Lord Papers

Dec 12, 2020

Seth Parker was a fictional preacher created by radio star Phillips Lord. The character was based on Lord's own grandfather. Lord played the elderly character in a radio show for fourteen years.

The show drew on the charm of rural Maine and its colorful characters. Every episode ended with Seth Parker helping others with a bible story or hymn.

After the radio show became popular, Lord took his show to the seas in 1933. He bought a schooner and installed a broadcasting system on board. He and the cast sailed the ocean, staying in character. The show recorded them getting into trouble with exiled murderers and nearly being shipwrecked.

The broadcast turned out to be considerably raunchier than audiences expected from a wholesome preacher character. Sea shanties, drinking and trysts pulled back the Seth Parker façade. Finally, the ship was caught in a hurricane and the expedition had to end.

Phillips Lord's collection is available at the UW American Heritage Center.