By Debbonnaire Kovacs, submitted June 24, 2015
The Seventh-day Adventist church will soon have another radio station. It won’t be a very big one—its broadcasting reach will only be a ten-mile radius of its tower, which will be located near New Circle Road in Lexington, KY—but those who are helping to get it in operation have high hopes that it can be a blessing to many. And its creation is something of a miracle.
It all started when the Lexington, Kentucky, Seventh-day Adventist church, pastored by Pavel Goia, had a series of visioning meetings in 2013. One of the ideas that came up the most persistently and garnered a lot of interest was the idea of starting a Christian radio station. But Lexington SDA only has around 250 or so attending. How could they make this dream a reality?
In August, Pastor Goia went to the Adventist-laymens’ Services and Industries (ASI) convention, where he met an attorney who could guide the church through the complicated process of applying to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a license. He also learned something the church hadn’t known: One can only apply to create a new radio station during certain narrow time windows, at the FCC’s discretion. These windows can be as far apart as ten years…and one was coming up right at that moment. Miracle, step one.
Goia came home from the convention with the name and number of the attorney and a packet of material, turned it over to Michael Hurter, a church member who is an attorney-mediator and used to dealing with “legalese,” and told him everything had to be done quickly.
They started trying to figure out what entity could apply. It had to be a corporation, which left the church out. The Kentucky-Tennessee Conference could have done it, but if they were to own a radio station, it should be in Goodlettsville, TN, where they are located. They realized they would have to incorporate a non-profit 501 (c) 3. Hurter wrote bylaws and did the easy form, rather than the more complex form. “That part wasn’t too bad,” he said. They had an approval in the unheard-of time period of three weeks. Miracle, step two. They now had an entity called Lexington Christian Network, Inc.
“We were really tight in terms of getting our application in, and then the government shut down. That gave us the opportunity of proofing it,” Hurter said. It turns out, 75% of the members of the board of directors must be local. The board at that time consisted of Hurter, Goia, and member Glenn Hensley. Only two of them lived in Lexington, making the board only 66% local. They added another local member, Jim Lyons. Hurter says they might have been turned down if they had not had that unexpected chance to look things over more carefully. (Can you call a government shut-down “miracle, step three”?)
It turned out another local group had applied for the same frequency as the church had. Engineers offered that they could both get stations if one moved a little up the dial and one a little down the dial, but (for technical reasons neither Hurter nor I understand) if they did that, neither tower location would work. Neither was willing to move their tower. In the case of the church, another local Adventist, Volker Schmidt, member at Winchester, KY SDA, had donated space at his business, Eastlex Machine Corporation, as well as a room for a small studio. Moving was out of the question.
This, Hurter reported, was at the beginning of 2014, and they let their application lapse. For a while, it appeared that the church might not get a radio station after all.
Then attorneys told them there are usually amendment periods for just this kind of thing—coming up, they would get a chance, not to apply again, but to amend their original application and ask for a different frequency.
The church had paid approximately $2,000 for the original application and the fees associated with it. It would cost about $600 for an amendment, and the board wasn’t willing to risk more money. But several people felt, as Hurter put it, “Shouldn’t we try every avenue? It’s going to be years before another opportunity will arise. It is kind of a gamble, a risk, a shot in the dark, whatever you want to call it. But we felt it was worth the risk.” So they pooled their own money, made the application amendment, and the FCC signed on it. Miracle, step four.
They now needed to raise funds—at least $20-40,000. By June of this year, they had raised about $36,000, and the board had agreed to match up to $20,000. They were covered. Miracle, step five.
As of this writing, the main focus is buying equipment. They have purchased an FM transmitter and other equipment and are storing it in the room at Eastlex Machine that will be used for the broadcast studio. They are hoping to find a company that can not only sell them a 40’ tower, but will also deliver and set it up.
There will also be a media studio at the church, which will transmit prerecorded material to the broadcast studio by means not yet determined. They need to come up with a proposed method of staffing (the station will be run with volunteers, but much of it will be automated), and they are still raising more funds to keep the station going. The plan is to become an affiliate station, most likely with Three Angels Broadcasting Network (3BN), though there are other possibilities, so another necessity is to make that decision and sign a contract.
They are hoping that by August of this year, Lexington Christian Network, at 99.7, will be on the air, 24/7, spreading the news that God loves everyone. All the time.
And if they need a few more steps for their miracle, well, that’s all right. Lexington SDA is used to miracles.