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Black completing ministry circle as Cornerstone's CEO

| Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
Norma Bixler and new Cornerstone Television CEO the Rev. Don Black look forward to a bright future for the Christian station.

The Rev. Don Black is home.

“In many ways it is a completing of the circle of our ministry calling,” said Washington native Black, 59, CEO of Wall's Cornerstone TeleVision Network since January.

Its WPCB-40 and WKBS-47 in Altoona cover some of the areas where he grew up.

After years in TV ministries in the South, Black was called to head the network founded by Norma and the late Rev. R. Russell Bixler.

Russ Bixler and successors Oleen Eagle and Rev. Ron Hembree, all now deceased, had ties to WPCB's earliest days along Signal Hill Drive.

“They were looking for a leader, they were looking for someone who came with some new ideas and some new ministry perspective,” Black said.

“He is truly an answer to our prayers,” Norma Bixler said. “Don Black brings the expertise, insight, and humility needed to effectively manage and lead our Christian television network.”

Norma Bixler still is active.

“She is a real pro,” Black said. “She's a wonderful, godly lady. She's 84 going on 45.”

Black said he will build on a foundation laid at the former Western Pennsylvania Christian Broadcasting Co.

“There are a couple things we are kicking around,” he said. “I don't come in with any idea of ... changing things for change's sake.”

Black's three-year plan includes such ideas as a “sister-to-sister” show with “three, four, five women (in) a semi circle talking about life from the perspective of a Christian woman” that isn't “preachy but heart to heart.”

He also would bring “pastors, Christian leaders and communicators” together “four or five at a time” before a live audience and for questions off texts and Twitter.

“People need to know the truth and to know that the Gospel applies to every situation,” Black said.

He'd focus on what God still is doing in lives of musicians and others from the “Jesus people” era, “bring those folks together and interview them and let them do a little concert.”

He even foresees a reality show, citing “Duck Dynasty,” which opens a third season Wednesday on A&E.

“These guys are Christian guys,” Black said of brothers Willie and Jase Robertson in the Louisiana bayous. “They have a moral at the end of the story. I'd like to do a story like that in this area.”

He foresees CTVN's return to syndicating programs and has ideas for WPCB's digital subchannels. Bible Discovery Network is on WPCB-40.2, and CTVN can use 40.3 and 40.4.

“We want to do things with local pastors and to air local ministry events,” Black said.

Black does not want to forget the Great Commission.

“Our call is to get the Gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people as we can as quickly as we can,” Black said. “We are living in the end days.”

He is reminded of the story Jesus told of 10 virgins, five wise, five foolish, whose torches went out while waiting for a bridegroom to arrive.

“The five that did bring the extra oil were prepared for the sudden coming of the groom,” Black said.

He wants to update CTVN's website and continue emphasis on ministries Hembree promoted.

“Cornerstone is involved in helping kids around the world,” Black said. “It was part of Ron's vision.”

Black hails from “coal country.” His father built structures for the mining industry.

“Mom was Catholic, dad was a construction engineer,” Black said. The latter wouldn't change for decades.

Meanwhile, he said, “it was in Ebensburg where I came to Christ as an 8-year-old boy watching Billy Graham.”

Ebensburg was part of a bustling coal industry at that time. “I was the youngest member of the United Mine Workers,” Black said. “It was at age 15. I was doing above-ground grunt work.”

Black went to high school in West Virginia and Illinois, then to South Carolina's University of Charleston and the Rev. Pat Robertson's Regent University in Virginia Beach.

At Regent he met his future wife Teri, a native of Butler.

Don Black earned a master's degree in communication, had law school training and was ordained as a minister in the Full Gospel Fellowship of Churches and Ministers.

He served as impact sales manager for Robertson's CBN Family Channel; vice president of sales and development for INSP/The Inspiration Network; and had various roles from 1998-2006 with Dr. Charles Stanley's In Touch ministry in Atlanta.

“Part of the motivation for going was because God used that program to touch my father,” Black said, referring to how his father came to know Christ at age 70, not long before his death.

After rising to the role of chief operating officer of In Touch Ministries, Black became managing partner of Black and White Strategy, an agency based in Franklin, Tenn., that works with non-profit organizations.

The Blacks live in Franklin, a suburb of Nashville, and have two daughters in college and two sons in high school.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or