Religious media begins transition
By Patrick Cloonan
Published: Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, 6:15 p.m.
It's transition time in local religious media.
Activity ranges from ownership changes to a new flagship program at Wall's WPCB-40.
Cornerstone TeleVision crews tore up the Wall studio and spent a lot of time replaying telethons this summer as they prepared for the kickoff on Sept. 9 at 9 a.m. of “Real Life!”
It succeeds WPCB's “Focus 4” with re-airs weekdays at 1 p.m., 8 p.m. and 1 a.m.
“This program is encouraging people to live a successful, happy, fulfilled life every day,” executive producer Tim Burgan said. He hopes viewers walk away “thinking, ‘I'm going to make it,' feeling hopeful, feeling like they can make it and life is better.”
Its 9 a.m. airing goes against NBC's third hour of “Today” on WPXI-11, “Pittsburgh Today Live” on KDKA-2 and the syndicated “Live with Kelly and Michael” on WTAE-4.
“The other programs are about giving you the latest entertainment, what is going on, but they don't help you with what you're going through every day,” Burgan said.
There will be a focus on places “where couples can go for a healthy wholesome date or where they can take their family,” Burgan said, plus features that could range “from the latest contemporary Christian music group to sports figures that have a relationship with the Lord to just talking about the latest in technology and what is happing on the Internet that will help people.”
Other segments will include a seven-minute teaching, as well as music and interviews on current events “showing the things God is doing, the miracles around our area and around the world,” Burgan said.
“At Home” segments with McKeesport's Arlene Williams will be another feature. Williams' weekly show and other CTVN productions, including Burgan's own “His Place,” were shelved as emphasis was put on “Real Life!”
“We'll be bringing back some of our programs in the winter,” Burgan said. For now, “best of” shows will fill time slots of other programs.
Meanwhile, across Western Pennsylvania, billboards cropped up touting “Christian Radio AM 1080,” Wilkins Communications' 50,000-watt daytimer WWNL-1080.
Several are along Mon-Yough highways such as Route 148 near Crooked Run Road in North Versailles Township. Wilkins officials did not return inquiries at presstime.
Elsewhere, one is alongside a bridge carrying Route 66 across the Kiskiminetas River into Apollo. There, WAVL-910 is returning to religious roots under new ownership.
Pending approval by the Federal Communications Commission, Evangel Heights Assembly of God will sell the 5,000-watt daytime, 69-watt nighttime outlet to Family-Life Media-Com Inc., operator of Kittanning's WTYM-1380.
WAVL was flipped from conservative talk to Christian music and ministries with hosts ranging from John Tesh to Jim Bakker, and from John MacArthur to Joel Osteen.
“We are awaiting signatures between their board and ours for the ‘official' acquisition,” Family-Life president the Rev. David J. Croyle said in an email. He said there was an agreement not to publicly discuss the transaction within a letter of intent to purchase WAVL, but acknowledged, “We are operating in good faith on a handshake between two ministries.”
While a staffer at the Evangel Heights office confirmed that a sale had occurred, the pastoral staff was at Assemblies of God denominational meetings in Florida and could not be reached at presstime.
WAVL was owned by the Clifton family from 1947-2001. Under Evangel Heights ownership, WAVL started out with local programs and Christian music, shifted in 2004 to the WAY-FM syndicated Christian music format, then in 2009 went to a lineup of conservative talk, with NASCAR on weekends.
In 2006, Evangel Heights and Renda agreed to swap frequencies, moving AM 910 from Apollo to Mt. Lebanon and AM 1360, then WPTT, from McKeesport to Apollo.
The FCC granted a permit for the swap but it was allowed to expire in 2010. Renda recently agreed to donate AM 1360, now WMNY, to Pentecostal Temple Development Corp., church-linked operator of WGBN-1150 in New Kensington.
Also awaiting FCC approval are three moves involving Educational Media Foundation, which leases Duquesne's WPKV-98.3 from Keymarket to run K-Love Christian music.
EMF is selling two low-power FM repeater stations to Robert Stevens' Broadcast Communications Inc. for $310,000.
Those repeaters are used by BCI's North Versailles-based stations. Clairton's W231BM-94.1 simulcasts WKHB-620 and Monroeville's W248AR-97.5 provides full-time service for WKFB-770.
EMF also seeks a repeater on FM 92.5 in Connellsville to rebroadcast WYRA-98.5 in Confluence, an affiliate of EMF's “Air1” network airing an edgier sort of Christian music than K-Love.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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