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A Historical Overview of Christian Radio in Northwest Ohio (Part I)

The presentation of this article will come in two parts, with no intent to be an exhaustive list of all Christian Radio stations or translators in Northwest Ohio. However, the intent is to provide some insight to how Christian radio came to Northwest Ohio and expanded over the years, starting with, what I view as, the flagship station that started the Christian radio broadcast movement in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan.

WPOS-FM

The history of Christian radio broadcasting in Northwest Ohio starts in 1965 with three men. They were Jess Fleck, who was the founder of the Cherry Street Mission in Toledo, Ohio, Duane Ashbaucher, who worked for the Toledo Blade newspaper and had a background in radio communications through High School vocational and Military training, and Lowell Yoder, who was the owner of Yoder Machinery in Holland, Ohio, and who donated the 10 acers of land the radio station currently sits on today.

By the fall of 1966, through the efforts of these three charter members, The Maumee Valley Broadcasting Association (WPOS-FM) was on the air broadcasting with 3 kW of power, at 102.3 MHz to Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. WPOS started with a 180 ft. tower and a four-bay antenna system, located on the property of the Holland Free Methodist church, just down the road from their studios. Then later, eventually moved their tower location one-quarter mile down the road just behind its studio building. Over time, the FCC changed its power level standards for Class A commercial licenses, which permitted WPOS to double its power to 6 kW, using a two-bay Jampro omnidirectional antenna system, as it sits on their 300-foot self-standing tower in Holland, Ohio.

WPOS was one of the first FM radio station in Northwest Ohio to move to stereo broadcasting and in 2002 was moving in the direction of joining the ranks with other area stations to broadcast an HD, formally known as IBOC (In Band On Channel), signal. IBOC or HD radio is where a radio signal is broadcast in both analog and digital formats on the same frequency. This pursuit ended with the illness and eventual death of the station manager Ray Turkington in 2002. The WPOS call sign originally stood as their mission statement, We Proclaim Our Savior, but in recent years has changed to “Proclaim FM.”

Over the years, WPOS-FM promoted itself as a non-denominational radio ministry reaching for a fine balance between music, news and biblical teaching that would be doctrinally acceptable to most Christians across a multi-denominational spectrum, as it reached out to all ages. WPOS was not a singular formatted station, but took on several formats in their presentation of music, news, talk and biblical teaching program schedule, which included some satellite programming through the Moody Broadcast Network or now known as Moody Radio, which is associated with the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, founded by the world-renowned evangelist, Dwight L. Moody. Later, when the national religious broadcasters developed a new method to deliver their program content, known as the “Christian Consortium Network,” WPOS joined that group and added two additional satellite networks to their programming.

The charter members, general managers and some board members, along with their families were heavily involved, in the early years, with promotion efforts in local churches, area county fairs and public parades. The station’s programming grew over time to cater toward all ages, but leaned toward Generation-X and the baby boomers, thus the purpose of multi-formatted programming.

Christian Center Photo
WPOS-FM Christian Center

During the 20 years that Ray Turkington was general manager, WPOS expanded its radio ministry to take on a “Christian Center” ministry, designed to house Christian events, athletic activities, and provide space for banquets and meetings for area churches and religious organizations.

With the passing of General Manager Ray Turkington in 2002, the radio ministry focus began to change toward becoming more contemporary in their music choices and a change up in the teaching program lineup, thus becoming closer to a single formatted station. The focus now seems to be toward the millennial generation.

Even though WPOS was licensed as a Class A commercial station, they chose not to sell commercials and filed with the IRS as a non-profit organization. WPOS for most of its years relied solely on being listeners and church supported and raised its annual budget during a three day Share-A-Thon in early December, were people would call in, pledge their support, and share their testimony on how God used WPOS in their lives toward a salvation experience or God working in their lives.

Today, two of the three founders of WPOS-FM are still living and reside in Northwest Ohio, with the oldest among them reaching age 96.

Next week we will be posting Part II of this article, as we talk about additional entities that have joined the Christian radio broadcast market in Northwest Ohio.

 

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