History Book: Martin Luther King, Jr. wins the Nobel Peace Prize

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, October 14th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD Radio History Book. 

Today, FCC regulations usher in the age of ugly yard dishes. 

Plus, Martin Luther King, Jr. wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

EICHER: But first, 150 years ago this week, a New York farmer digs a hole and finds what appears to be human remains. Here’s Paul Butler.

AUDIO: [Sound of digging]

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: William “Stub” Newell lived in Cardiff, New York—15 miles south of Syracuse. On October 16th, 1869, he and two neighbors are digging a new well on his property. Not long into the project, one of the shovels hits something hard. The men look closely and discover a large foot. By the end of the day, a 10-foot figure emerges from the soil. Newell convinces his friends and neighbors it’s petrified remains of a large man. “The Cardiff Giant” becomes headline news. 

But the whole thing is a hoax. A couple years earlier, New York tobacconist and atheist George Hull got into an argument with a Methodist preacher over giants in the Bible. Hull decides to see just how gullible people can be and commissions a stone worker to make the giant figure from a block of gypsum. Hull and his cousin, Stub Newell, secretly bury the sculpture. Then they wait. 

About a year later, Newell allegedly discovers the figure. People come in droves to see it—including many religious people who promote “The Cardiff Giant” as proof of the Bible’s accuracy when it described “giants in the land.” 

Eventually, Hull sells the figure for more than $20,000 to promoters in Syracuse, New York. So many people come to see the giant that P. T. Barnum hears of it and wants it for his traveling show. The promoters refuse. So Barnum makes his own—claiming his is the genuine article and the Cardiff figure a fake.

The promoters take legal action. In an interview, one of them offers the now well-known witticism: “There’s a sucker born every minute.” 

Hull eventually confesses everything to a reporter. And on February 2nd, 1870, a court declares both giants are fake. 

Next, October 14th, 1964. The Nobel committee awards its prestigious Peace Prize to Martin Luther King Jr. The committee selected King for his commitment to civil rights and non-violence, even in the face of great suffering. He accepted the award two months later in Oslo, Norway.

KING: I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when 22 million Negroes of the United States are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. 

At the time, King is the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He’s optimistic that the movement will succeed. He believes that “unconditional love will have the final word.” He ends his speech acknowledging that while the $54,000 prize will be put to good use, he’s leaving Norway with something even more valuable.  

KING: When I say that I accept this award in the spirit of a curator of some precious heirloom which he holds in trust for its true owners…and in whose eyes the beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]

And finally, October 18th, 1979. 

The Federal Communications Commission permits consumers to operate “home satellite earth stations” without a license.

SATELLITE SETUP INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO: Check to ensure that the feed horn…

Television Receive Only, or TVRO satellite dishes sprout up like mushrooms in yards all across the country. They pick up television feeds from communication satellites orbiting the earth more than 22,000 miles away.

HOBBYIST: I found a signal. A test card, and some program material…

Satellite eavesdropping becomes a popular hobby. Within just a few years, more than 1-million systems are operational. 

COMMERCIAL: Programs are transmitted to one satellite, bounced off it…

“Big Ugly Dishes,” or BUDs as they’re jokingly referred to, were particularly popular with rural Americans as broadcast television was often spotty and cable services unavailable. Over the decades, as the technology improved, the number of large satellite dishes rapidly declined. BUDs are still available with a handful of free channels and subscription services. But what was once a booming industry is now, like many other once popular technologies, relegated mostly to hobbyists and enthusiasts.


That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.

(Photo/Rex) Martin Luther King receives the Nobel Peace Prize from Gunnar Jahn, president of the Nobel Prize Committee, in Oslo back in 1964.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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