The PTL Club
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|The PTL Club|
|Also known as||The Jim and Tammy Show
|Genre||Religious talk show|
|Created by||Jim Bakker|
|Starring||Jim Bakker & Tammy Faye Bakker (1974–1987)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||14|
|Location(s)||Charlotte, North Carolina
Fort Mill, South Carolina
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Original channel||PTL Satellite Network, The Inspirational Network|
|Original release||1974 – 1989|
|Related shows||The 700 Club, Praise The Lord|
The PTL Club (PTL stands for "Praise The Lord" or "People That Love"), later called The Jim and Tammy Show, and in its last days PTL Today and Heritage Today, was a Christian television program first hosted by evangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, which ran from 1974 to 1989. The PTL Club, which adopted a talk-show format, was the flagship television program of the Bakkers' PTL Satellite Network.
Jim Bakker and his wife Tammy had been in the ministry with the Assemblies Of God since the early 1960s and went on board at Pat Robertson's then television station WYAH 27 in the Virginia Beach area. He helped host his then-new show the 700 Club and beginning in 1965 he and his wife launched a children's show called Come On Over. In the early 1970s, The Christian Broadcasting Network owned three stations in Atlanta, Virginia Beach, and Dallas/Ft. Worth. The Virginia Beach station evolved from a few-hour-a-day Christian themed station in 1970 to a conventional 20-hour-a-day commercial independent station by the fall of 1973. His Dallas station merged with a commercial station making a full-time commercial independent there. Beginning in 1972, the 700 Club was launched in a dozen test markets including then-independent station 36 WRET owned by Ted Turner in Charlotte, NC at the time. Jim Bakker and his wife left CBN in the Winter of 1973 to help Paul Crouch launch the Trinity Broadcasting Network based in the Los Angeles area.
While CBN's Virginia Beach and Dallas stations were full-time commercial independents, the Atlanta station was only on the air a few hours a day with all but one hour being Christian programming in the fall of 1973. In the Spring of 1974, the Atlanta station expanded to an 18-hour broadcast day which was also entertainment for about 12 hours. They competed with Ted Turner's WTCG. Turner was upset to see a competitor in the market which he felt could not yet support two independent stations. The 700 Club had launced by then in about 20 markets with a plan to expand to over 100 markets in the fall of 74. But Ted Turner personally pulled the 700 Club from his Charlotte station. He did need a show to replace it and had heard that Jim Bakker was looking to launch his own ministry. So in June 1974 Turner approached Bakker about buying two hours a day on his station in Charlotte. Bakker opted to do this. He opted to call the show the PTL Club, though Trinity Broadcasting used and still uses the title Praise The Lord for their flagship show. The 700 Club moved to then ABC affiliate 18 WCCB in Charlotte.
The program began as a local TV broadcast in a small studio at WRET in November of 1974. The show began to be tested on a few other stations later in the year such as 16 WGGS Greenville, SC, 40 WHMB Indianapolis, 18 WHCT Hartford, Connecticut, 30 KHOF Los Angeles, among a few others. The show launched nationally in the fall of 1975. When it launched nationally there were two editions. One was the full two hour edition which tended to air on Christian stations and smaller independent stations. The other was the one hour edition which tended to air on stronger independent stations as well as stations affiliated with ABC, NBC, and CBS. By 1976, the Bakkers moved their studio to a former Charlotte, North Carolina furniture store. The show continued to be hosted by Jim Bakker and co-hosted by his wife, Tammy Faye Bakker. Bakker and his staff built what became known as the PTL Television Network (later named The Inspirational Network), a worldwide Christian satellite cable television network. In a Tonight Show-type format, the program featured many well-known ministers and Christian recording artists. In the beginning, "Uncle Henry" Harrison (who had worked with Bakker at CBN) was the co-host/sidekick (much like Ed McMahon to Johnny Carson), and when Tammy Faye took over as co-host, Harrison became just the announcer. The program was later broadcast from Bakker's Heritage Village ministry headquarters and complex on Park Road in Charlotte, and was later moved to studios constructed at the ministry's new 2500-acre mixed use family theme park and resort in Fort Mill, South Carolina known as Heritage USA. Bakker's conspicuous consumption and prosperity gospel preaching led critics to claim that PTL stood for "Pass The Loot." As time went on and as more stations had additional programming commitments by 1981, many opted to only run an hour of the PTL Club. In the Fall of 1982, the show was cut to only an hour, which it remained until it ended later in the decade.
Scandal and subsequent demise
Due to his involvement in highly publicized financial and sexual scandals, Bakker resigned on March 19, 1987. He turned the cable network, the Heritage USA complex and all ministry assets over to fellow televangelist Jerry Falwell. Falwell became CEO of parent company, Heritage Village Church & Missionary Fellowship, Inc. and assumed control of the network and of its flagship program. Falwell's involvement was deemed newsworthy[by whom?] as the PTL ministries were a part of the Assemblies of God denomination and Falwell was a Baptist. Ministry supporters questioned Falwell's intentions and speculatively attributed his interest solely to maintaining control of the lucrative cable-television empire owned by PTL to use to broadcast his own ministry programming from his Lynchburg, Virginia headquarters.
One commentator noted that "Bakker arranged for Falwell to take over PTL in March in an effort to avoid what he called a 'hostile takeover' of the television ministry by people threatening to expose a sexual encounter he admitted to having seven years earlier with church secretary Jessica Hahn." According to Hahn, on the afternoon of December 6, 1980, when she was a 21-year-old church secretary, Bakker and another preacher, John Wesley Fletcher drugged her and raped her for "about 15 minutes". Hahn stated she overheard Bakker say afterward to another PTL staffer, "Did you get her too?"
A federal grand jury ultimately indicted Bakker for directing millions of dollars of church funds to personal use. Much of the nation watched the court case to see the outcome of the $165 million in donations.
The PTL Club continued as a television program for considerable time after this, first with Falwell as its host and PTL personality Doug Oldham as co-host. Falwell later brought in Christian singer Gary McSpadden as the show's co-host, along with PTL musical talent Ron Aldridge. The show was renamed PTL Today, then — in an effort to distance the show from the PTL name — Heritage Today. Aldridge continued as co-host alongside another PTL singer, Brenda Davis, after Falwell suddenly resigned from the now-bankrupt PTL ministry. McSpadden and Oldham subsequently left the show out of support for Falwell's decision to resign his position with the ministry.
With Falwell's resignation, Sam Johnson, a member of the PTL ministry team, assumed leadership and incorporated a new entity known as Heritage Ministries to run the television program and associated ministry functions. As Heritage USA and the PTL assets were now tied up in bankruptcy reorganization, the new ministry and the television program had to move from their longtime Heritage USA broadcast studios to newly purchased property on Nations Ford Road in Charlotte that was named Heritage Place.
The program remained on the air as late as September 1988, when Johnson faced problems with the IRS.
In 1989, evangelist Morris Cerullo purchased the network out of bankruptcy. As of 2012[update] it operates as INSP from broadcast facilities in Charlotte, with headquarters in nearby Indian Land, South Carolina.
On August 23, 1991, after the second and final day of his re-sentencing hearing, the court reduced Bakker's original 45-year sentence to 18 years—five of which he actually served before being released.
In February 2009, Atlanta, Georgia area investment-banker Ben Dyer announced his intention to auction off over 15,000 hours of videotaped episodes of The PTL Club on March 27, 2009. A friend of Jim Bakker's purchased the programs.
- "PTL Considering Future". Associated Press. Aug 10, 1987. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
- Steve Baker. PTL-Falwell Associated Press. July 21, 1987
- Transcript of interview with Larry King, CNN, July 14, 2005
- "Jim Bakker". GospelGrace.com. Archived from Jim Bakker the original on 2007-08-30.
- Ostling, Richard N. (1988-12-19). "Jim Bakker's Crumbling World". Time magazine. Retrieved 2007-12-05.
- IRS Asks Court to Stop PTL Show
- "Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's old shows up for sale". Associated Press. 2009-02-28. Retrieved 2009-03-01.