What seems normal to one man is often simply a dream to another. This was the case in 1983 when Reverend Gene White moved to Southwestern Kansas from Chicago. Rev. White had enjoyed Christian radio for years and was astonished at how much he missed the positive influence of Christian radio when he scanned his dial and found no Christian radio signal in the Heartland.
A short-term solution was enacted in April of 1983 when Rev. White along with local residents Dick Unruh and Galen Friesen signed a contract with a local cable operator to rebroadcast the Moody Broadcasting network through cable television.
A Vision Defined
It became clear that those who could receive the audio by cable were profoundly influenced, but the agreement affected such a small area of Southwestern Kansas that the vision for an actual radio presence was cast. On February 25th, 1985 a group of forty-three individuals met to discuss the possibilities of Christian radio for the Heartland. This meeting led to the development of the first Board of Directors for Great Plains Christian Radio.
Three years of discovery would take place before an application was made to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in August of 1988 for a 100,000-watt station with a 1,000-foot tower.
The Next Phase
Three more years would pass before FCC approval was granted. In 1991 the GPCR board began a search for a General Manager to help move the vision forward. By September of that year Don Hughes had accepted the challenge to move the idea of Christian radio from paper to an audio presence. By December, Hughes had moved his family of six from Pennsylvania to Southwestern Kansas.
$750,000 was an incredible sum of money to raise when the vision is something that is yet to be realized. Only a third of the money needed was raised in various fund-raising projects. After much prayer the GPCR board opted to accept a loan through a bond issue. People in Southwestern Kansas purchased the majority of those bonds.
If You Build It…
A new building was erected and offices opened at our present location on June 1st, 1992 and within 24 hours of the completion of tower construction, KJIL took to the air. The first words transmitted occurred at 1:46 p.m., September 5th, 1992. A fitting launch to the ministry was the song “Find Us Faithful” by Steve Green. The first passage of Scripture heard on KJIL was, “I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within valleys, I will turn the desert into pools of water, and parched ground into springs…so that people may see and know, may consider and understand that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy of Israel has created it” (Isaiah 41:18,20 ). With these words and prayer the ministry was dedicated to God’s will and direction.
Like Cold Water to a Weary Soul
As listeners began to tune in they also understood the vision of Great Plains Christian Radio and they found themselves enthusiastic supporters of the long-term viability of the ministry.
“Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land” (Proverbs 25:25 ). As people on the fringe of the radio signal began hearing the faint signal they began to make known their interest in having the signal more widely available. The first translator for KJIL was erected in Gruver, Texas in October of 1994. Today nearly 40 translators in four states repeat the Good News found on Great Plains Christian Radio.
Shortly after KJIL made its first impact in the region the GPCR board saw the need for a second full power station. Application was made for what would become KHYM. Five years after KJIL took to the airwaves a construction permit was issued for KHYM and broadcasting commenced on December 23rd 1997. In God’s faithfulness the debt for KJIL was completely taken care of prior to KHYM’s debut.
By December 15th, 1999 Great Plains Christian Radio would expand once more due to an agreement to operate KJOV 90.7 FM in Woodward, OK. In March of 2001 Great Plains Christian Radio assumed the reigns of KDMM in Herington, KS. The call letters were changed to KJRL and 105.7 FM serves Central Kansas including the communities of Salina, Junction City, Abilene, Newton, Hillsboro, McPherson and other surrounding communities. In May of 2008, GPCR was blessed to acquire KNGM-FM (now KJLG) in Emporia KS serving the East Central area of the Sunflower State. On November 8, 2011 an additional station KJVL in Hutchinson 88.1 FM was put on the air. The fall of 2012 GPCR was blessed to add KJIH 89.9FM in Manhattan, KS to our family of stations.
An Award Winning Staff
The GPCR staff has been awarded dozens of times in categories such as news and sports reporting, air personality of the year, editorial content, public service announcement and more.
KJIL has been awarded Station of the Year honors twice from the Kansas Association of Broadcaster. KJIL has also been honored with a rare trio of awards; Focus on the Family Station of the Year, Gospel Music Association Station of the Year and National Association of Broadcasters Station of the Year.
Great Plains Christian Radio continues to follow God’s leading in the development of radio stations and translators, but we are also aware of the many changes in distribution methods for audio content. This is why we have developed Internet audio streams as well as smart phone applications for additional audio ministry.
Looking back at the development and growth of Great Plains Christian Radio it’s easy to see God’s footprints as He walked with those who served on the Board of Directors. We also see God’s hand in those called to vocational Christian service through Great Plains Christian Radio as well as those who responded to the financial needs by supporting this outreach.