Mudslides, the Bakkers and “Murphy in the Morning”


With the discussion of mudslides in the mountains above us triggered by Hurricane Florence, I went sideways on a pig trail that led back in time to Charlotte’s BIG WAYS RADIO in the mid-Seventies and their irreverent morning personality, Robert Murphy.  A focus for Murphy and sidekick Larry Sprinkle was his “PASS THE LOOT” Club, a parody of Jim Bakker’s PTL Club, short for “Praise the Lord” Club.

One of their primary targets was Bakker’s heavily made-up wife, Tammy Faye Bakker.  Made-up as in make-up.  Murphy’s irreverent parodies gave me pause to not only laugh but to self-examine as well.  Some of my examinations made me wonder why I might be smelling burning sulfur.

So how did possible mudslides being forecasts lead me to Robert Murphy’s “Murphy in the Morning”, Jim Bakker and his wife Tammy Faye?  Patience, sometimes pig trails a slow going.

For six years Murphy used humor and parody to poke fun at the locals with characters such as The Great Dildoni and skits including Battlestar Gastonia and Another World-Waxhaw.  He seemed to take delight in railing against the extravagance and rumors of shady business activities emanating from Bakker’s Heritage USA, a Charismatic Christian empire including but was not limited to, a satellite cable Christian network, a family theme park and an air-conditioned dog house for Tammy Faye’s fur babies.

Murphy’s main character, The Reverend Billy Takker would create ways to separate people from their money in the name of the Lord, from selling Indulgences to forecasting worldwide catastrophes, including the end of the world, which only he could put off…for a monetary donation of course.

One episode, causing me to blow coffee through my nose, involved “A catastrophe of Biblical proportions” occurring when Tammy Takker’s copiously applied make-up slid off her face blocking the local interstate.  See, patience is a virtue and I got there…it was a pig trail after all.

Murphy and Sprinkle would continue to parody Jim and Tammy until facts became stranger than fiction and a real sexual and financial scandal rocked Heritage USA forcing Bakker out of the PTL Club and Tammy’s bedroom.

Murphy, his mission accomplished, would leave Big Ways and Charlotte for a fifty-year career, and a big paycheck, in radio in Chicago.  I miss him.

This post should not be taken as a minimalization of the danger from mudslides…or charismatic Christianity.  I’m doing neither.  It is just the way my broken mind works and includes a belief that my God is a humorous God who gets a good laugh from parodies calling out those who prey on believers for the sake of money.   As a Christ follower, I believe we need more Murphys and fewer Bakkers.

While Tammy Faye has gone on to collect her just desserts, Jim is still actively separating believers from their money.  He sells “survival” food to his audience on the syndicated Jim Bakker Show in preparation for the rapture.  I didn’t realize we would need to pack a lunch.

For an example of Murphy spoofing the PTL Club, click the link below.


Don Miller primarily writes nonfiction, “Things that bother him so”, and can be accessed at

The image of Jim and Tammy Faye