Cornerstone TV revamps airwaves
By Patrick Cloonan
Published: Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Wall's Cornerstone TeleVision kicked off a daily show and plans more activity on and off WPCB-40's airwaves.
Plans range from reviving “LightMusic” to building a chapel in the complex along Signal Hill Drive where volunteers take prayer requests.
“It won't be church-like but it will be inspirational,” station CEO Donald Black said.
Plans for the chapel won't be ready until next year but the idea was discussed at an informal sneak peek of the studio where the ministry's new “RealLife” airs daily.
“The studio today is the most beautiful I have ever seen it,” said Steve Johnson, CTVN director of operations. “It is better today than it has been since I was here.”
It has large-screen photos of one of WPCB's cities of license (along with Greensburg).
“We want always to be known that we are from Pittsburgh, and that there is a legacy that we want to remember and to celebrate,” Black said. “We're carrying on in the tradition that Russ and Norma Bixler began.”
The late Rev. R. Russell Bixler and his wife Norma founded what began on Easter Sunday 1979 as the Western Pennsylvania Christian Broadcasting Co. or WPCB.
Norma Bixler has a place twice a week on “RealLife,” which airs live at 9 a.m. with reairs at 1 and 8 p.m. and 1 a.m.
Segments within that show will be spun off as 30-minute programs, including the cooking McKeesport's Arlene Williams does each Tuesday that will become new episodes of her long-running “At Home.”
“You get a certain amount who say they like the half-hour show better,” Black conceded. “Arlene is still an important part of what we do.”
Existing “At Home” shows follow the live “RealLife” at 10. Reruns of Tim Burgan's “His Place” air nightly at 9.
“‘His Place' comes back in January with new production,” Black said. What he calls the “very unique” science show “Origins” also will have new episodes.
Another show to be spun from “RealLife” segments is “Sister-to-Sister,” with a panel of women each Wednesday.
“As the segments connect then we will move them into half hours,” Black said.
Other segments in “RealLife” include “Signs and Wonders” on Monday and “Hard Questions” on Thursdays.
Each day there also will be a “7-Minute Word,” featuring local pastors. Fridays will be a “best of” day.
In CTVN archives 300 episodes of the late Tom Green's “LightMusic” were found.
Black said they will be repackaged as new shows with someone “who knows the music scene” as host.
“There is no place you can watch Christian music on TV that reflects the old style and brings it up to date,” Black said. “Each LightMusic episode will feature an artist in a video from the past and in the studio live.”
Change at Cornerstone has raised alarm in some corners, particularly with the airing of infomercials in what the station calls “home, health and family blocks” that take up 14 hours of Saturday broadcasts.
“It is a tentmaking endeavor,” Black said, referring to a trade the apostle Paul had. He cited the station's commercial license and the similarity of airing infomercials to paid programs sometimes heard on religious radio stations.
Other plans include a “pray in the New Year” special with communion elements provided to viewers and redevelopment of Bible Discovery Network channel 40.2 into what may be called “The Pittsburgh Church Channel,” featuring worship, music and teaching programs from area churches.
“Our goal is to have 25-30 churches involved,” Black said, adding that CTVN sales manager Tom McGough “has taken that on as part of his development challenge.”
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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