January 8th, 1990. That was our first day of broadcasting. WBVN was so much a “God work” to us.
In October 1987, for what I consider “unexplained reasons,” I had told my employer that I would be leaving that job. I didn’t know when I would be leaving. I did not know for what reason I would leave. But, it had become “obvious” in my heart that I wouldn’t be able to continue working on a long-term basis with that company. That same October, a friend called and told my wife that during one of her prayer times she’d “seen my face” before her. She told Jane I should read Hebrews 10:35-36: “therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward, for you have need of endurance so that when you have done the Will of God, you may receive what was promised.” That had 1983 all over it!
You see, in the summer of 1983, I had heard in an “unmistakable voice” a promise from the Father. (Yes, it really did happen was just like I’m telling it.) At the time it made no sense to me. Without revealing the specific words, let me just say that it was a “word” that I had no ability to fulfill or to perform. It hadn’t come in a meeting and it hadn’t been delivered to me by anyone. To be perfectly honest, I felt kind of silly about it, just keeping it to myself for many years. Then in ’87, something began to happen “in me,” something pursuing me day and night. It was something that “pulled me along” rather than me pushing it. It was so strong. I remember walking down the hall at work, walking toward the “boss’s office” to turn in my resignation. Just as I was about to knock on the door I knew immediately I should not go in. I returned to my office, shut the door, paused and prayed a short prayer. “Endurance…so that you will receive the promise” reoccurred in my mind. Within a couple weeks, on January 14th, 1988, a man came into my office and said there was an existing radio station for sale in the area and “had I ever thought about doing a Christian Radio station?” “No! Not me! Never crossed my mind!” Let me make it perfectly clear how I felt about that suggestion: “Too much risk, not enough security, too much money to start, not enough courage!” That’s how I felt!
Uncharacteristically, within two weeks someone gave me $5000 with no strings attached. Two days later, the first “fella” was asking me if I had decided, “to go for it.” Well to shorten the story, let me just say that on the 15th day of March 1988, we were to sign contracts to purchase that existing station. Just as amazingly, suddenly that same day, the other party backed out of the sale. It seemed that everything that had “pulled us along,” everything that seemed so right, so perfect, now was falling apart. At that same time, two national ministries had been exposed for misbehavior and received lots of national media attention. The environment was not really advantageous for starting a local ministry by some “up-shot” trying to share Contemporary Christian Music. By that March I was unemployed and had already signed a loan to purchase that existing station. No job and a big loan! Some of our friends suggested it was the devil interfering with the process, others suggested the Father that had influenced the situation. Jane and I prayed. We didn’t do much talking, but a lot of listening. Listening to our hearts and not our heads. Oh, we had many thoughts, but we wanted to be lead by the inner person, listening to the Spirit of Christ that dwelt within us. It was like being on a road, not knowing the next destination and not being able to see around the next curve but required to keep moving just the same.
Six months later, on August 25th 1988, we filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission for a new FM station license. There had been no FM license available for this area until that day. That summer, a special “window” was opened for a new broadcast station in Carrier Mills, IL. We were told no ruling would come for at least for one year, perhaps two, if someone challenged the application. Then, just as suddenly as when every thing had turned bad, a “being pulled along” began again. Things began to go in our favor. On April 21st, 1989, six months earlier than we were lead to believe by our FCC attorney, we had a construction permit issued to us. We weren’t sure what to do next, but we believed that it was the fulfillment of a promise made to our hearts 7 years earlier. On January 8th, 1990, WBVN went on the air broadcasting a Keith Green song titled “The Victor” and we began broadcasting CCM over WBVN.
Year seventeen begins in just a few days. We don’t have a “fail-safe” plan for the future. We live on a budget that operates 60 days at a time. We’ve pledged to stay until we know God would have us do differently and as long as we’re relevant in our listeners’ lives. Even though we don’t have a guarantee about tomorrow, we still believe God is “pulling us along.” We know how vulnerable we are in our own ability. We’re very aware of how the Father has blessed us rather than having been “smart” enough to run a radio station.
Just like the first day, we still depend on listeners to keep us on the air. They’ve done that for over 8 million minutes now. Our Message hasn’t changed. We still share a “Word” of Grace and Peace with our listeners. Ironically, the purpose and vision of this ministry is not nearly as complicated as the “mechanism of broadcasting” over FM 104.5. One is miles of wires, and rooms full of computers and transmitters, monitors and mics. The other is simply the encouragement found in sharing the Love of God with our listeners using Contemporary Christian Music.
We are so grateful for your partnership for these 16 years. I recently heard Ryan Dobson say on Focus On The Family Daily broadcast while talking about the ministry he’s involved with: “All this and Heaven too!” I thought that was a pretty good statement about what we get to do here. “All this and Heaven too!” It’s been a joy for us. We’ve had such wonderful people work for us and many terrific volunteers over the years. For 13 straight years our listener support has met the entire budget needs of WBVN.
We’ve seen hardships and miracles. A few have accused that CCM is not really Christian music at all because of it’s contemporary sound and the “fun” it is sometimes. At the same time, we’ve had letters and phone calls that ‘tearfully’ offer expressions of how much these lyric and tunes mean to people. We live in a very difficult time and having the opportunity to have shared this Message and encouragement over the 16 years has been a tenderhearted experience for us and we trust for our listeners as well. Thank you for all the kind words and prayers. We obviously are grateful for the contributions that have kept WBVN here for 16 years. How certain are we that God has been in this experience and wishes to continue and use this ministry to encourage the believers that choose to listen to FM 104.5? “Without a doubt,” “absolutely,” “10-4,” “Positively,” “For sure,” “It’s a deal,” “Certainly,” “Emphatically,” “Roger,” “Affirmative,” “As sure as the sun comes up in the morning,” “O.K.!” “Yeah!” “Yes,” “For sure,” “Where do I sign?” “Amen!” In 2006, may God bless this area in some small way through programming heard over WBVN.
January 8th, 2006… Beginning 17 Years of WBVN: WHY?
Thank you for supporting and praying for WBVN this year. We’ve had, what I would define, as one of our most interesting and community based years in 2006. I’ll give you the short version: Our emails, phone calls and conversations at the concerts indicate a new, increase interest in CCM and the value WBVN has become to our listeners and their families. Mark Schultz has blessed our Christian community with his choice of filming the DVD here. NewSong just really wanted to come back twice this year to bring their new “Rescue” live praise and worship event to us. Most recently, we met our goal of annual pledges during our fall celebration. That was the first time in 16 years of ministry for WBVN that we met those goals. That was a great vote of encouragement for us.
When we started the station in ’90, the Christian community was in a state of perpetual seriousness. Failures from a couple of national ministries had occupied the headlines for months and the usual divisions found among us during times of pressure had bubbled to the surface of Christianity again. It seemed some people thought a new Christian radio stations might mean hearing the names Tennessee Ernie Ford or Red Foley (I’m kidding here, maybe Honeytree and Evie are more like it) but what they got were names such as Steven Curtis Chapman, Geoff Moore, Jars of Clay, SmallTown Poets, Audio Adreneline, Newsboys and Jennifer Knapp.
It’s a good thing for local businesses to be in a community providing jobs, services, and materials and generating revenue into the community. Most of those businesses bring value into our lives and provide what we can’t provide for ourselves. WBVN is a little different organization than those businesses. When people first heard that we were going to begin a radio station, many people wanted to know how many people we would employ. That was not a question we were thinking about 16 years ago, and it still holds no interest for us today. You see, WBVN “delivers” something we think is more important than jobs and a tax base for the people we serve.
Communities are not evaluated on how safe they are by counting the number of policemen they have on the payroll. They’re actually evaluated by how safe and secure those police keep that community. How educated a town is cannot be determined by counting how many teachers the district employs but should be judged by the results we see in our children. We don’t look at those groups only as employers in the community. No, they’re to be measured by the ‘effect’ they have on our community.
WBVN is measured much the same. We’re ‘terrifically’ small, but we hope what we give is of ‘great’ benefit. The FCC obligates a radio station to “during the term of this license, render such broadcasting service as will serve the public interest…” In theory, a radio station should “upgrade” the community, serving it with programming that would make it a better, more peaceful place to live. It should promote a better place for our children and their families. The original intent of the Federal Communications Commission was that radio stations in this country would help establish and preserve an environment of “decency.” The problem today with the FCC is that in its effort to define community standards of decency they have forgotten to decide what is decent! Broadcasters should be evaluated by what they add to the cultural environment of a community. Radio stations should be measured by what they promote in the community at large and what they ‘hand off’ to the next generation. I’m afraid many radio stations today fail that “public service” test, doing only what generates the most money and disregard the content of the programming.
WBVN testifies and sings of God. However, you just can’t get you hands on what this radio station supplies our communities. It’s an intangible benefit. It could only be measured by the absence of the programming heard on FM 104.5. Without it you might know what ‘BVN is providing in your homes and cars. We’re not “visionless” about what we do. (Do we acquiesce to Howard Sterns and Jerry Springers to be our “visionaries” of the future, or do we do our best to encourage some other vision of America?) The whole Southern Illinois community is one Christian “gathering” for us. Everyday thousands of believers join us, meeting together for encouragement. We’ve determined what we want WBVN to be in these communities and what results we’d like to see there. We encourage certain things and we, ourselves, stand for certain things. We live in a very precarious time it seems. Many of our children are strangers to us. They turn 16 and we throw a set of car keys at them and hope for the best. However, we’re not giving many of them the skills to “resolve” life’s problems. Over 50% of our marriages fail and who knows how many have failed but continue. Over 10% of all the children being raised in this country are being raised with their grandparents as the primary caregiver.
What is the legacy that we are leaving our children? WBVN can’t change the whole world, but here and there, we can make a difference one person at a time. We’re looking for results that penetrate the office space at work; results that mend wounds in your family. Looking for effects that make a difference in the way we treat the folks we meet on the street and how we respond to people in need. We look to encourage new parents on the great opportunity they have to bring up their children in the Way of God. We encourage Worship and Praise with hymns and songs. We contrast and conflict with some of the other cultural influences, purposely choosing to identify with terms you don’t hear in our conversations any more: character, integrity, honesty and a single Truth derived from the Creator of all this world.
We’re the kind of creature that doesn’t need to go to a seminar to learn to lie or cheat. Self-centeredness or sneaking a cookie from the cookie jar seems to come naturally to us all. We must be encouraged (actually changed) away from that type of behavior and Christian radio can play a part in that. Are you seeing that type of help in most secular radio and television programs? Well, you do on FM 104.5! And might I add: “On purpose!” We need to encourage a pattern for life other than the pattern found in “Desperate Housewives” and “Sex In The City.”
We’re guilty of making the Gospel comfortable for WBVN listeners. Some view God with a judge’s robe and gavel. Ours is to dress him in L. L. Bean, making you just as comfortable with Him on your front porch as with Him in the church building. We’re grateful for all the minutes, over 8 million now, that you have permitted this station to be a part of your lives. We look forward to a few surprises this coming year, probably some disappointments, some unpredictable moments and pressure but all mixed with the joy and the contentment found in sharing the Gospel with you in ’06. It really is as Steven Curtis Chapman sings, “a great adventure.” We enjoy sharing the future with you as a companion and partner in the Christian life this coming year.
FCC Launches Site to Explain Obscenity, Indecency and Profanity
The FCC has launched a web site to inform the public about laws governing the airing of obscene, indecent and profane material and its enforcement of those laws. The site, www.fcc.gov/eb/oip, explains how to file a complaint and what happens when the Commission receives one.