From the moment you leave church on Sunday afternoon, to the time you make your way back to the sanctuary the following week, many Americans live a life void of any mention of Christ. In our world of constant in-your-face advertisements, TV shows, Facebook posts, and cat videos, all begging for our attention, some people find it hard to make the time to connect with Jesus throughout the week. To the advantage of Inland Empire (IE) residents, however, Jesus is being preached and worshiped 24/7 by way of local, national, and worldwide radio stations that are making the message of the hope in Christ their top priority.
In the IE, the only Christian radio station to rate in the top 10 of the Nielson ratings, is local Contemporary Christian Music station 89.7 KSGN. Morning show co-host and station Program Director, Bryan O’Neal credits some of the stations success to the fact that there are live people in a studio, in the Inland Empire, answering phones and taking calls from people. “People will call for lots of reasons, O’Neal says. “Sometimes something in a song just gets them and they want to share with us. We want to be an interactive show. People appreciate that we’re very local. Interacting with the community is very huge for us. We want people to know that this is your local radio station. We’re not just coming in by satellite. We live here, we work here, we go to church here, and we want to make a difference here in the greater Inland Empire.”
89.7 KSGN plays music from Christian music’s top stars such as: Chris Tomlin, Britt Nicole, Danny Gokey, (Former American Idol Alum), Tenth Avenue North, Phil Wickham, Sidewalk Prophets, MercyMe, Francesca Battistelli, Matthew West, TobyMac, Casting Crowns, Third Day, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Lincolin Brewster, Kutless, Matt Redman, and Josh Wilson, just to name a few. The format of Contemporary Christian Music is one of the few radio formats that is still experiencing growth nationwide.
Although Christian music is a major draw for listeners to KSGN, O’Neal says there is one thing that needs to be made clear. “We’re focused on Jesus Christ. We image ourselves as helping to bring hope in Jesus Christ. There are some people that, as it says in the Bible, you mention Jesus Christ and some people are going to be turned off right away. We like to say that there’s hope, and we know where to find it, and we can point you to hope, and it’s in Jesus.”
Just knowing that Christ can be found on the radio locally at 89.7 KSGN, 90.1 Air1, 107.9 K-Wave, 1570 AM KPRO, and KCWGTheTruth.com, is a blessing in itself, but a great benefit is that these local Christian radio stations can be taken with you outside the Inland Empire and beyond. Many of these stations offer apps that can be downloaded on both iTunes and Android stores. Additionally, all of these stations can be streamed online at their respective websites. It isn’t uncommon for locals to take their favorite stations with them when they leave the area on vacation or travel.
Even though the staff of KSGN is small, O’Neal says there are a large amount of spiritual gifts throughout the building. A great example is Linda who works at the front desk. “She answers the phone, and does all the busy stuff,” O’Neal says. “But, you know what her gift is? When somebody calls up and says, ‘Can you pray for me?’ I’ve be walking by her . . . and she is deep in prayer with someone who needs prayer.”
It’s a passion of the radio station that either through the radio, the internet, or through the KSGN app, “Everybody here just wants to get the Word of God out. When we hear about a person just coming to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ it’s really exciting. That’s our goal,” O’Neal continues. “Yes, we are soothing to the ears of the believer, but we also touch the unbeliever in ways that we never imagined. And a lot of that is the songs that play.”
Being a co-host of the only local Christian music radio morning show, O’Neal says that making local families, and especially children, a part of the program is a huge priority. “We have our Kid Friday,” he states. “We . . . have the Family Name Game where we will choose a different name everyday and if you’ve got a child that has that name, we’d love for you to call and tell us all about your kid. Brag on them. Tell us about their personality. What is your child like? What qualities do you see in your kid? That’s one of the things we like to put on the air.”
Another theme that is evident during the KSGN morning show is a love for country. “We’re very much patriotic with The Pledge of Allegiance every morning at 7:35. We have kids doing The Pledge of Allegiance. Sometimes that’s a classroom, a scout group, families come in and do it, and take a little tour of the radio station, and some kids do it by themselves.” It’s not only in the studio where listeners can record The Pledge to be played on the air, KSGN is now taking a recording system with them to their remotes and events so listeners can record The Pledge for a future broadcast. If your class or group would like to say The Pledge of Allegiance on KSGN, call the office line at (909) 583-2150. When you go in to record, expect a tour of the radio station, a chance to go into a studio and record The Pledge, and get a picture in front of the KSGN logo wall.
While the job of spreading the message of Jesus Christ is the primary job of any Christian radio station, most non-secular (religious) stations are nonprofit organizations and are supported, in large part, by listener donations (similar to this newspaper). While secular (non-religious) traditional radio stations sell :30 and :60 second commercials that can consume up to 18 minutes of programming every hour, most Christian radio stations are able to play more music because they are not at the mercy of advertisers to pay the bills.
But operating on a budget funded by donations doesn’t mean that Christian radio stations have any less expense than secular stations. They still need all the same equipment, vehicles, and staffing. It’s a big bill to pay for stations that are donor supported, but as Paul wrote in Philippians 4:19, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (NKJV)
“Most of it is just motivating people to be a part of what we do through donations,” O’Neal states. “The people that have businesses that want to underwrite with their businesses, they are families too, but they just own businesses and some say that their business can give also. But, the majority of it [donations] is families. Families just saying, ‘there’s some value in this, and I will sign up,’ and they give whatever they can afford.”
It can be humbling knowing that every dollar that a nonprofit radio station spends is from a gift or donation that someone took the time to give. “When you are in an area like this (the Inland Empire), that is financially hit like crazy, . . . it makes you more appreciative of those who can give. We get a lot of people will give a small amount, and as we say, every little bit helps. And there are people who give $5 and $10 a month, and you’re going, ‘Wow, I don’t even know if they can afford that.’ But they want to do something,” O’Neal adds.
“There is so much more we could get involved in if things were a little different. We are constantly trying to find a way to bring attention to people like, ‘This is your station, we’re going to ask you to take ownership. We’re going to ask you, can you put us in your budget, just the same way you may put your gym membership in your budget because you find value in your gym.”
Of course not everyone can give of their money, so most nonprofit Christian stations have needs for volunteers, and every station is in need of prayer for their ministry. If time and treasures are not available to be given, simply lifting these stations up to the Lord in prayer is a huge blessing.