The UNSHACKLED! radio program began under the leadership of Pacific Garden Mission's Superintendent Harry Saulnier. Harry yearned to reach the masses for Christ and earnestly prayed about the possibility of a radio program.
For a short time Harry had a 15 minute program entitled "Doorway to Heaven" on station WAIT in 1945. On this program, Harry often related the true stories of individuals who had been saved at Pacific Garden Mission. This opportunity fueled Harry's desire to continue to share the testimonies of changed lives using the popular radio drama format of the day.
Thus, in 1950, the first recording session was scheduled. The first script was written by John Gillies, who worked at WMBI in Chicago. Clear channel radio giant WGN agreed to air the program.
Taking Steps Forward
The first program was about Billy Sunday, famous Chicago baseball player turned evangelist. Following the success of the first program, Gillies passed the directing and writing duties on to Eugenia Price, a successful and established radio writer.
With her dedication to quality, the program progressed with a style that was highly esteemed in both secular and religious radio circles. Not only did the quality of the program exceed expectation, but its audience was continuing to grow as well. Lives of listeners through the years have been dramatically changed.
One of those people was Jack O'Dell, a professed agnostic and a struggling alcoholic whose drinking habit had nearly destroyed his promising radio career. In 1953, Genie Price hired Jack to play a role in an UNSHACKLED! program. After the recording session, Jack began thinking about this "God who can change lives." As he reflected on his own life, he recognized his sin and came before God in repentance. Jack himself was UNSHACKLED!
In 1955, Genie Price felt God leading her in a new direction, so Jack Odell assumed leadership of the program. He served as director, writer, and announcer for almost four decades. Just prior to Jack's death in 1991, Bob O'Donnell, a long time UNSHACKLED! actor and close friend to Jack, took the reins as director and announcer. At that time, Kennetha Gaebler began writing for UNSHACKLED! producing over 700 scripts and retired in 2018.
In October 2007, we moved to our new facility on South Canal Street, and Bob announced his retirement on December 15th. At that time, Flossie McNeill stepped in and diligently served as ministry director of UNSHACKLED! until June of 2016, when Timothy Gregory assumed leadership of the program, where he also serves as announcer, writer and director.
Still in Production
Today, UNSHACKLED! is still produced very much as it has always been. The original music of Don Baddorf is still woven through the story "live" at the time of the production.
UNSHACKLED! is heard on over 3,100 radio outlets in 148 countries, on six continents, in fifteen languages—English, Spanish, Arabic, Romanian, Russian, Polish, Korean, Japanese, Portuguese, Greek, Macedonian, Albanian, Mandarin, Farsi, and Turkish. More than 15,000 times a week, these testimonies of changed lives are heard around the globe, as well as on the internet at www.unshackled.org and on our UNSHACKLED! app which you can download for free.
Check out our radio station log for the station(s) in your area airing UNSHACKLED!