One of the pioneers of international Christian broadcasting, Douglas Malton, has died of heart failure, aged 82, at his Hampshire home.
He was co-founder of FEBA, Britain’s first missionary radio station, which grew from his spare bedroom in Surrey to a global network reaching millions in places such as Iran and Afghanistan.
His vision for radio ministry, as he had often stated it, was to ‘give people the message of life at the speed of light’.
In the1950s, Malton was an enthusiast without a BBC pedigree. In his spare time, he recorded interviews and flight commentary at the Farn-borough Air Show for a friend working at a Christian radio station in the Philippines.
FEBA started in 1959 as a support group for the Manila-based Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC). Over lunch in a Sunbury restaurant, Mr Malton and his colleague John Wheatley started planning their own fully-fledged broadcasting base, starting out with just £400 in the bank.
Ineffective in broadcasting from Manila to India, FEBC asked for help in locating another site closer to listeners. The Seychelles, then a British crown colony, appeared on the horizon as a likely site.
Mr Malton’s and Mr Wheatley’s dream came true. Funded by voluntary donations, a studio complex was built and employees were hired. In May 1970, FEBA Radio started broadcasting to India. The following year, broadcasts to the Middle East started, subsequently spreading to other regions. FEBA found a niche encouraging Christian communities in restricted countries.
Mr Malton was FEBA’s chairman until 1996, when he became life president. He also served on the boards of other Christian organisations, including relief agency Tearfund.
Current chairman John Rogers said, ‘A gracious, generous and godly man, Douglas’ lasting legacy will be the effect that FEBA has had on individuals in Africa, Asia and the Middle East’.
Mr Malton leaves a widow Joan, two grown-up children and three grandchildren.