Local Christian radio stations find new ways to share Christ’s love

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Local Christian radio stations find new ways to share Christ’s love

WCSG Jeep

WCSG Jeep

Photo by Jon Boer

WCSG Jeep

Photo by Jon Boer

Photo by Jon Boer

WCSG Jeep

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If you’re a Calvin student, you may find yourself tuning in to Christian radio as you jam in your car Sunday morning on the ride to church or throughout the week. Chimes interviewed local radio stations to see how they operate, how their work fits their vocational calling, and how their stations bring something meaningful to the table for listeners.

91.3, WCSG, is the rhyming-titled outfit, the neighboring Christian radio station of Cornerstone University. WCSG’s playlists are made by their music director and put into the system before the broadcasting day. The playlist features more pop-sounding Christian songs by artists like Elevation Worship, Casting Crowns and Matt Maher, though the songs can change.

“Now, we have quite a bit of wiggle room within the playlist to be able to play requests or perhaps a song that the Spirit may nudge us to play,” midday host Tom Neering said.

Neering also works with Daysponsors to craft messages for the station. He feels entirely called to his position after he worked in secular radio during his 20s.

But, as the Lord does… he called me back into the last place that I thought that I wanted to work after he got a hold of me, and gave me a fresh start here at WCSG. I never thought I’d get back in radio again… but now it’s hard to think about doing anything else,” Tom shared.

Neering sees that the work of WCSG touches lives.

“I hear so many stories of the music touching hearts and bringing people closer to God. It truly is an inspiration every day to know that the work you do is having such an impact.”

WCSG hopes to improve their impact by moving to a larger building and expanding their broadcast. WCSG’s 2020 expansion plans involve moving from their small 7,100 square foot dilapidated building and three trailers into the vacant 12,000 square foot church building at the south end of campus off the East Beltline and Bradford St.

Chris Lemke, executive director of radio at WCSG, provided the details for the move and the missional reasons.

“We hope to move in before Thanksgiving of 2020,” Lemke said.

Photo by Jonathan Boer
WCSG Christian radio station at Cornerstone University

The current building complex cannot fully accommodate the employees of WCSG.

“We don’t have enough bathrooms for everyone, people need to walk to the main campus,” Lemke informed.

The $5 million worth of renovations to the new building will better accommodate the employees. The new building will no longer feature the sharp spike at the top of its steeple. Cornerstone seeks to witness to greater audiences, possibly even purchasing other radio stations.

“We want to deepen and widen the radio’s impact: widen by being able to reach audiences further away in Michigan and beyond, and deepen by partnering with local churches and ministries,” he said.

Another local radio station is WFUR, located west of downtown. Steve Kuiper, aka Mr. WFUR, does a lot for the radio station including: daily on air shifts, music scheduling, program log scheduling, combining and exporting logs to three separately programmed stations, reviewing/adding music, commercials and some tech.

“I am a radio brat. I grew up working here as my grandfather founded WFUR (far as the Christian radio part… in 1950), I’ve been working here since I was 10… on air since I was 14,” Kuiper said.

WFUR sports an interesting history. “WFUR has been bringing Christian music and programing for 69 years. We are the longest running commercially supported Christian radio station in the United States… if not the world. We are… a Christian business,” Kuiper said.

Kuiper currently chooses all the songs for the station. He listens and picks the songs they play.

“We’ve played music for a broad audience and I’m trying to keep the feel of that on air.  I occasionally eye a music chart… but, playing 10 or 20 sound-alike songs over and over is just not what we do,” he suggested.  

WFUR includes Bible teachings by James Dobson or Ravi Zacharias, Reformed Church sermons on Sundays, and overnight hymns starting at 11 p.m. Kuiper finds the teachings essential for sharing Bible truths.

“How will people learn Bible truths from music and announcer giggles with an occasional short Bible verse thrown in?” he asks.

Kuiper does not feel this is exactly his calling, but a responsibility.

He assured, “I’ve certainly been groomed for it over the years. I have a great responsibility as WFUR’s current caretaker. With the diminished size of staff, which is industry-wide due to falling audience and income, it is very hard to get away.”

Kuiper knows the impact of WFUR is clear.

“Some even record us off air and take us along with them on their vacation. Amazing. As we offer traditional meaningful sounds in the overnight many listeners claim WFUR got them through… the death of a family member, a worried lonely night or cancer treatments in a way the other ‘happy’ Christian stations could not.”

Neering and Kuiper take different angles to the freedoms and responsibilities of their jobs, but they both seek to do the mission of their stations as stated on their websites. They exist “to serve as a Christ-centered influence through compelling content, relevant platforms and compassionate relationships” and “to give glory to God and to help believers in their walk with Him.”

Turn the dial to 91.3 to hear WCSG or 102.9 FM for WFUR.