Apollo radio station WAVL-910 to return to religious roots

| Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Apollo's WAVL-910 is returning to religious roots under new ownership.

Pending approval of the Federal Communications Commission, Evangel Heights Assembly of God in Sarver will sell the 5,000-watt daytime, 69-watt nighttime station to Family-Life Media-Com Inc., operator of Kittanning radio station WTYM-1380.

In recent weeks, in advance of FCC action, WAVL has flipped formats from conservative talk to a mix of Christian music and ministries as well as some public affairs programming. Hosts range from John Tesh to Jim Bakker, and from John MacArthur to Joel Osteen.

It is not a simulcast with WTYM, which runs a mix of local and national talk, music and ministries.

“We are awaiting signatures between their board and ours for the ‘official' acquisition,” Family-Life president the Rev. David J. Croyle said in a recent 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.”

Croyle, who is the publisher and editor of The Kittanning Paper, won the Republican nomination in the May primary election for both the four-year and two-year terms for Kittanning Council's 1st Ward.

While a staffer at the Evangel Heights office confirmed that a sale had occurred, the pastoral staff had been at Assemblies of God denominational meetings in Florida and was not expected back until later this week.

The sale would further Family-Life's existing outreach into the Alle-Kiski Valley. Family-Life's TV ministry utilizes Channel 44.2, a subchannel of Bruno-Goodworth's WKHU low-power TV station which can be received as far south as the Pittsburgh Mills complex near Tarentum.

Under Evangel Heights ownership, WAVL started out in 2001 with local programs and Christian music, then it shifted in 2004 to the WAY-FM syndicated Christian music format.

In 2006, Dave Ramsey's syndicated financial talk show was added to the WAVL schedule, then in 2009 AM 910 went to a 24-hour “Liberty 910” schedule of conservative talk shows and ABC News, with NASCAR races from Motor Racing Network on weekends.

The Sarver church aimed AM 910 during daylight hours toward metropolitan Pittsburgh. WAVL is aimed at night toward the Kiski Valley boroughs of Apollo, Vandergrift and Leechburg for which the station was named by its first owners, the Clifton family, in 1947.

In 2001 Alice Clifton, Carolyn Dain, and Robert Dain, doing business as Tri-Borough Broadcasting Co., sold WAVL to Evangel Heights for $400,000.

In 2006, Evangel Heights and Renda Broadcasting reached agreement on a swap of frequencies that would have moved AM 910 to Mt. Lebanon and AM 1360, then WPTT, from McKeesport to Apollo.

However, the construction permit granted by the FCC for that swap was allowed to expire in 2010.

Renda recently agreed to donate AM 1360, now WMNY, to Pentecostal Temple Development Corp., the church-linked operator of gospel-format WGBN-1150 in New Kensington. That donation still awaits FCC approval.

In an unrelated development, Ramsey, who no longer is on WAVL since the format flip, also is moving off WMNY. His last AM 1360 show is Friday, after which he will be heard nightly from 8-11 on WPGB-104.7.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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