Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ya Gotta Be Kiddin'


This posting is going to be SOLELY about the beginning of Christian Radio Station WEEC, prior to actually going on the air in Springfield OH, on December 15, 1961. It will consist, mainly, of quotes from a book by the title listed above, written by the Rev. Dr. R. Glenn Greenwood, one of the Founders of WEEC.

Dr. Greenwood is in heaven now, but his family has graciously consented to my quoting from the book. The actual quotes will be in italics, while my comments are in regular print.

Many visitors to this blog will know of my later participation in the ministry of WEEC, beginning March 1, 1965. And, though I DID meet with the founders of the station in their homes PRIOR to the station going on the air, other than advice from my experience in Christian Radio, I had NOTHING to do with its beginning.

Those who should be honored for this “vision”, are Paul R. Pontis, R. Glenn Greenwood and Dwight Coffelt. Though others appeared to “cheer them on”, so to speak, THEY and their wives, were the ONLY ones to commit themselves, their reputations, and their funds.

Sadly, of the three, only Dwight Coffelt remains here on earth - along with Mrs. Coffelt and Mrs. Greenwood.

Quoting from the book:

This author was pastoring a Baptist Church in Springfield, Ohio and enjoying a fruitful ministry. One of the ministries of the church was broadcasting the evening service live from the church over a local secular radio station. The response to this broadcast was positive, and the church soon learned radio was a great tool to spread the Gospel and reach a large segment of the local population.

The book goes on:

The first significant date in the station’s history was Novembet 1960. The board of deacons discussed various items of business at their monthly board meeting and reviewed the ministry of the church. One of the deacons suggested that the church pursue the possibility of broadcasting a daily fifteen-minute Bible study on one of the local secular stations. The live, evening broadcast was proving a very popular and fruitful ministry. The deacons were unanimous that such a possibility be pursued and adopted a plan that required sending some men to the local secular stations to see if such was possible.

Continuing:

It is uncertain who volunteered, or was chosen, but Paul Pontis was designated to pursue the possibility of a fifteen-minute, daily broadcast over one of the local stations. The deacons agreed to make this a specific matter of prayer before the next monthly board meeting.

Of course, Paul Pontis reported back to the board, but

both local stations were not interested in selling the church time for a fifteen-minute Bible study.

The reason: they had no time available on their program schedule.

It was obvious the men didn’t believe that, because Rev. Greenwood reports that they thought this was merely an excuse.

Here comes an important moment in this “project"

…..silence prevailed for a few seconds, which seemed like minutes, but was soon broken when one of the deacons said, “Why don’t we start our own radio station?”

WHOA! Where did that thought come from? (Where do YOU think it came from?)

Rev. Greenwood continues:

Silence was now replaced with laughter and chuckles. The person defended his suggestion by making reference to a Christian radio station, WFCJ, operated at Miamisburg, Ohio. (A southern suburb of Dayton.)

He goes on: What made this comment so humorous was that all the men in the room knew about radio was that it had an “off” and “on” knob and another knob to adjust the volume.

Question: Does God ONLY use trained and experienced folk in His Ministry? At the beginning of WEEC, apparently not.

The next sound the author (Rev. Greenwood) remembered was from one of the deacons who said, “You have got to be kidding!”

Oh Yeah? Read on:

Rev. Greenwood comments further: Noah did not have Course 101 in engineering and boat designing, yet God called him to build the ark.

(God) chose Abraham and Sarah who were childless and past the time to plan and produce a family.


The book continues to chronicle the events: The lack of radio experience was reason enough to refrain from undertaking such a monumental task of starting a radio station. However, these men rose to the occasion and accepted the challenge to study the procedures necessary to give birth to WEEC. God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called.

Notice that, though they were “not qualified”, they stud(ied) the procedures necessary to give birth to WEEC.

We learn that after they called on their church to pray, there was a men’s group that met weekly at a local restaurant, and they mentioned the project to them. The answer: What if it fails? What do you men know about radio?

Glenn met with a group of area ministers and shared the burden. Some sounded interested, but no one spoke up with support.

The three valiant men got together, and considered Proverbs 4:26:

“Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.”

This raised questions:

1. Where are we now in our venture?
2. What type of station? AM? or FM?
3. How will it be financed? Commercial? Or Faith?
4. Where will the studio and tower be located?


Did the lack of “support” quell their enthusiasm? No Way!

The next step was to incorporate. The corporate name “World Evangelistic Enterprise Corporation” was available. They took it.

Part of that incorporation was a Constitution and By-laws, including a Statement of Faith. They wrote it.

What about a bank account? Well, how much money was needed to open an account? The three of them searched their pockets and came up with $10. They were “in business”.

Where to find the large amount of funds needed, to get started? After approval by the Ohio Securities Division, they started selling Debenture bonds, at an interest rate of 5%, up to the $50,000 authorized.

The license. What to do about that?

They contacted Charlie Shaw, the WFCJ engineer, and he filled them in.

The founders and Mr. Shaw drove overnight to Washington DC to meet with a Communications Attorney. They made a frequency search, and found 100.7 FM as the ideal spot for a 77,000 watt station. They made application, and were told to go home and wait. They did.

Listen to Rev. Greenwood:

June 15 they learned that a station near the Springfield area filed a request for a station on top of the 100.7 FM frequency. Immediately, the men knew this would require a lengthy and costly hearing unless the problem could be resolved peacefully.

Negotiations between the two groups were unfruitful. The other group wanted to be paid to drop out of the situation. They insisted that WEEC should move its frequency choice. (If they moved, they would have to operate on lower power!)

Though Glenn’s group had formally filed with the FCC, the other one planned on doing so before the deadline. The principal of that group, rather than mailing in the application, kept it in his pocket while driving in Indiana. He was seriously injured in an auto accident there, and never filed!

Upshot: WEEC’s application was granted - in the unheard of month of August when the FCC was on vacation. The staff was authorized to grant the license, since there was such a backlog.

Let’s let Glenn Greenwood describe the following:

The date was December 15, 1961, and the excitement was high at the studio and transmitter site. The time was 6PM. The switch would soon be thrown, and the announcer would put WEEC on the air. It was only appropriate that the hymn “To God Be The Glory” should be the first message to sound forth when the station went on the air.

December 15, 2008 was the 47th anniversary of that first broadcast, and God STILL keeps it going.

Praise the Lord!

Rev. Greenwood’s final verse in this book is: “And let us not be weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. Galatians 6:9

26 comments:

Ken Anderson said...

Mike, your story brought so many memories to mind about the Park Shopping Center, Lagonda Bank, the "Restruant"! Fancinating history. I believe WEEC was the first station in the US to open up in a Shopping Mall. Thanks for reviving the blessings of working there. Ken

Anonymous said...

Ken,

Bless you! I need to THANK YOU -and Karen - for your years of service for WEEC - not only in Springfield, but in Brazil, Roatan, et al!

In Christ,

Grandpa Mike

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