Recently, there was an announcement from one of our local Christian radio stations. There were changes in the forecast – the very near future, actually. As part of New Life Media, there are currently three radio stations that wear the title of Family Friendly Radio: WBGL (serving the Chicagoland and surrounding areas), WCIC (Serving the Peoria, IL and surrounding areas) and WIBI (serving St. Louis, Southern and Southwestern Illinois and surrounding areas). It has been announced that the three stations have much change taking place, and an actual merge soon to happen. You see, WIBI will cease to exist as WIBI. Instead, Family Friendly WBGL and WCIC will expand their listening audiences and WIBI will merge with the two stations.
What I find great is that virtually nothing is going to change. It is, and will remain the same Family Friendly radio that so many people, myself included, have come to love and enjoy. The listeners accustomed to hearing the on-air voices of WIBI will still hear many of the same familiar (and loved) voices, but will be blessed to add a few new voices to the mix. The actual number on the dial will not change. The amazing music that meets you right where you are will remain that same positive influence.
Since this announcement was made, I have heard many people share their personal disappointment with the situation – noting that they almost feel betrayed. It is at that moment that I would like to reach out and hug them…letting them know that it IS going to be alright. It’s not as if we are losing a family member – but instead, we’re gaining more family. People (myself included at times) need to remember that change isn’t always fun or easy. It can, however, be rewarding in so many ways. As this transition is gearing up to take place, I truly love seeing the heart and passion from the on air voices, and those you don’t always hear — but who work behind the scenes to make this family of radio stations what everyone has come to know and love.
I had the opportunity to hear the New Life Media Network Director, Barry Copeland’s heart on the situation and the pending change. What he had to say blessed me in many ways. His heart for God, and his love of people is a beautiful thing. It is his desire that the listeners can see that this move won’t detract from local community involvement. Instead, he states “Our plan is to have staff being enabled to interact more with local supporters/ministries by identifying the needs, then creating opportunity for listeners to make an impact for the kingdom.” This transition, and the thought process behind it was not come to in haste. As Barry states, “All our decisions have been through the lens of the listeners. They weren’t easy to make.” Barry has invested many years of his life in this, and understands completely the emotion that accompanies such a change. He agrees that WIBI has been an amazing experience, and he believes it will continue – only with a new name. As I mentioned, this wasn’t a decision made easily, or selfishly. I will let his own words speak the volumes they did to me, “After much prayer and consult, I knew it was the right thing for the listeners and donors. It’s about them.” The heart of the matter truly is about doing what makes sense, and has the greatest overall impact with the listeners and supporters of all the stations.
I am grateful – not just because of this pending transition, but because there is leadership – from the staff / on air voices – all the way up to the network director – that truly love people. More than that, they love God, and allow His love to filter through their faith, heart, music and messages to all on the other end of the airways. I, for one, say thank you to God for each and every one who works to make this a reality. God is able to reach out, through them, to meet people exactly where they are – at exactly the right time.
As this transition takes place, I will follow up and share reflections after the actual merge has taken place.