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Yet Another CCM Station in Dela.



According to an article in yesterday's News-Journal, we are going to be getting yet another CCM station in the first state.

Bill Sammons, who owned WXPZ until it was bought by DBC, is launching WKNZ on 88.7, with 25kw.

At this point, it looks like studios will be in Harrington, with the transmitter in Milton. Fund raising is taking place now, with the station start up a couple of years away.
I remember WXPZ 101.3, it was a good CCM station. Unfortunately, the format doesn't seem to work well as a commercially operated station (note DBC didn't keep 101.3 as a CCM for long after they took over. it's now an Oldies station that plays a better selection of Oldies than WOGL, in my opinion. I wish I could get 101.3 up here in NCC).

A CCM station has a core of loyal listeners, but just as with many religious stations (WDAC in Lancaster being the most notable exception to this rule) don't seem to appeal to advertisers, even with a younger demo as with a Top 40 CCM station. WVCH in Chester is a commercially operated religious station (not Top 40 CCM, but mostly preachers with some occasional mellow CCM gold in between programs until that piece of time gets filled with another preacher). They have a few spots, but what keeps them on the air is the dollar a hollar preachers as they air very little music.

So I think this will be good for Lower Delaware and Eastern Shore MD. It will be interesting to see which CCM station survives (the new WKNZ on 88.7) or the several translators of WXHL. As both operate as non-comms they'll be pulling from the same donar group for support. I'd think that the home grown WKNZ would have the "home court" advantage, but he'll need to advertise to let the WXHL listeners there that they now have their own local CCM station. My guess is Bill Sammons will have his WKNZ out and about the local communities being a part of Lower Delaware, (Bill Sammons was the person behind the popular "Lamb Jam" outdoor concerts in Milton for a number of years) which is something that a translated version of WXHL can't do. I don't know how much money it takes to keep a translator in operation, but WXHL may eventually lose the financial support they get now from Lower Delaware to WKNZ.

Ah, the free market. It's interesting how it works. Gloria Jennings and her deceased husband started a CCM station on 101.7 (WNNN-FM) in Canton/Salem NJ that served the Wilmington area. It was a commericallly based station. They survived OK, mainly due to the dollar a hollar preachers, but they did have large music blocks of Top 40 CCM music (they also had an AM station that played Country that may have helped pay the bills too). Then Steve Hare came a long and started WXHL in Christiana, DE as a non-comm, his station was in stereo and plays very little preaching, mostly music. The listeners left WNNN and today 101.7 is owned by someone else and plays Urban music and the AM station plays Urban Gospel. Steve Hare won that battle.

Bill Sammons starts a commercial CCM station in Lower Delaware that eventually goes under due to lack of spots. Steve Hare sees an opportunity to expand his Reach FM empire by adding a few low powered translators to the Lower Delaware area. Now Bill Sammons will be back, this time with a non-comm that's a local station to compete with the out of town, Northern Delaware (above the canal) CCM station. There's a good chance that Steve Hare might lose this battle. Time will tell.
Hey Mike, concerning WNNN, Steve Hare was not the reason WNNN went under. Some of the owners of WNNN wanted to get out of the radio business. Gloria Jennings(who passed away several years ago) was the only one who wanted to keep the station going. She was basically outvoted on the station. Tony Q. came along and offered them over one million dollars for both stations. Gloria worked for them for a little while but was eventually pushed out. WNNN did not lose revenue when WXHL came on, since he did not run any religious progamming, except Dobson at the beginning. WNNN was still making money when it was sold. Tony Q wanted to bring the hip hop music to the Wilmington area, since that is the programming he specialized in. He went to Black Gospel to be able to have the same demos on both 101.7 and 1510. WNNN would probably still be running christian programming if Gloria was still alive and it wasnt sold. The only costs for running a translator is tower rent(if you dont own the tower) and the cost of rebroadcasting the signal. Whether it be by the internet or antenna. Most times, depending on tower rent. It would cost you less than one thousand dollars a month. You would still have to pay for the transmitter, antenna and other equipment for your start up costs. After that, there is not much cost. Having listened to several fundraisers for WXHL, it seems that they need at least 350 thousand dollars from every fundraiser. They seemed to have fallen short the last couple of times, so they extended the fundraisers several days until their goal was reached.
I didn't know about other partners with Gloria Jennings. I did know that a large majority of the NCC listeners jumped ship from 101.7 to 89.1 when WXHL started broadcasting. Let's face it, the teenage and 20 something target demo that WXHL wants really isn't interested in listening to a bunch of preachers. WXHL is mostly music, even today, so it was bound to happen that WXHL would take WNNN's listeners, which might have caused those partners you mentioned to decide it was time to get out of the radio business. So from that aspect, I was correct in saying that Steve Hare's station put WNNN out of business as it literally took most of their listeners from NCC.

From what I remember, WNNN/WJIC were barely holding their heads above water. I remember one night, I was working on air, that WNNN aired some New Jersey regional high school football game that brought in plenty of spots and revenue. I rode the board (as my show was pre-empted), doing any local announcements, weather, played the local avails, etc. Mrs. Jennings was so excited she came into the station to hear the game and WNNN's coverage along with the PD and the sales staff (maybe some were the partners, I just don't remember). She also brought in some champaign to celebrate with all of us there that night. I was on air and didn't participate, but she sure was excited. She and her late husband, from what I had been told by some of the long time folks at WNNN/WJIC really had a heart for the Salem, South Jersey community and saw their radio stations as a way of serving those folks (kind of reminds me of Sally Hawkins, former owner at WILM in that regard. I worked for both and found both decent people to work for).

Yes I do remember Gloria still doing some sort of local talk show on 1510 after the sale. I had assumed it wouldn't last long, but that allowed Mrs. Jennings to still serve the South Jersey community a bit longer.
The younger listeners, who switched to wxhl had no effect on the money coming in. They did not support the programs anyway, but the ones who did, still listened to WNNN. Sometimes the amount of listenership, does not affect the bottom line, especially in christian radio. Your loyal supporters will continue to support the programs they enjoy. The other owners,who were all at or near retirement age, wanted to retire for several years before the station was sold. Tony Q approached them about the station, because he wanted to get into Wilmington Delaware. They were offered 1.5 million for both stations so they got out because of the amount of money offered. So yes, WNNN lost listeners in NCC, but did not lose revenue. They were still making money in the end. Not to sound rude, but you had not worked at WNNN for many years before they were sold, so you really do not know what their financial stituation was. Listenership in specialized formats do not always account for profit. Look at 1360am in Washington Twp N.J., They are an all brokered format, they are making tons of money, they have a waiting list to get on. I dont have their listenership in front of me, but I doubt it can be that much.
Not to sound rude, but you had not worked at WNNN for many years before they were sold, so you really do not know what their financial stituation was.

My assumptions on the financial state of the station was due to the poor mouthing and penny pinching the station did. Mrs. Jennings had a policy of "if they pay their show plays". Which sounds reasonable enough, but when I was there on Sunday mornings, there as a preacher from NYC, who was a screamer. He must have used a $20.00 portable cassette recorder that he must have thrown into the pulpit to record his sermon. As a result, of his recording techniques and possibly poor equipment used, and his excessive screaming and yelling, etc, his entire 30 minute show was essentially distortion. I could not tell you what he was saying as it distorted so badly. He may have been saying the 7 words you couldn't (at that time) say on the air, I don't know, because I truly could not decifer anything he said. I knew the show ended when the distortion stopped. One week it was so bad, that I dumped the show after 10 minutes into it and aired music simply saying that due to technical problems with the program, it would not be aired today, tune in next week, etc. I had left a note for Mrs. Jennings with the cassette about the lack listenability, and made the appropriate entry into the log, etc. She was there at the station the following week, to tell me that she didn't care whether the tape was of broadcast quality or not, if they paid, they got played. She was very nice about it, and I remembering saying, we are a Christian station bringing God's word to people, shouldn't we have a standard that the programs should meet so that God's radio is at least of the quality of the "worlds" radio. She said, I understand your point, but this is a business and we pay our bills with these programs. So if they pay, they play, understand? I said yes. From that week on, I aired the show and would turn down the monitor and simply watch the clock and needle on the board. If the needle was moving and the time had not run out, I knew the show was on. As I wasn't in management, I didn't get to see their financial books, but things like that lead me to the conclusion that things weren't going well financially. The fact that as a Christian station she would carry sports to generate spot revenue which would pre-empt music programming, etc, seemed to me to be another indicator that the cash wasn't flowing as well as she and her partners wanted. WNNN-FM never made the switch from monaural to stereo, probably due to the cost. So WNNN-FM was the only FM station in the Wilmington /Philly area that broadcast 100% of the time in mono. So the station made have been flushed with cash, but based how they acted and talked, they seemed like they were on borrowed time. I've worked in other small market stations and didn't get that sense that things were as tight as they were at WNNN. So maybe they hit the jackpot, after I left, and truly were in the black financially when they sold the station. Only Tony Q would be able to truly answer that question.

Another memory from my days at WNNN. They had both turntables and CDs. They had a fantastic record library dating back to the early 70's that I mixed into my rotation during my show giving folk the opportunity to hear the some CCM gold as well as the Top 40. I was the only DJ there, other than the PD, who had access to the turntable needles, because the young DJ's couldn't get the knack of cueing up a record and would destroy the needles, so they were kept locked up for my show and the PD's use.
Whats wrong with carrying local sports on a christian station. I guess christians dont play sports. The local sports also brought listeners to WNNN, who may not have tuned in otherwise. Who knows how many people may have been saved by those tuning in before or after the game. The Lord can reach many people in many ways. Also WNNN/WJIC was the only radio station in Salem County, so it was the local station. WJIC was a daytimer, so WNNN carried the sports which were played at night, as well as on the weekend when WJIC had other commitments. It wasnt because they were hurting for cash, It was a good business move financially so they could keep WNNN christian and also pick up additional listeners and serve the community like radio stations should. More stations should be as local as WNNN/WJIC were. Your right, some of the programs sounded horrible, and Gloria only cared about getting the money in, But does that mean they were hurting for cash. No it doesnt. It just means the money may have been more important than the product, which isnt right either. But just because a station is sold, doesnt mean they werent making money. When the right offer comes along, you take it. Thats all I have to say about this subject. You can think what you want, WNNN did have its faults, but I do know that it wasnt Steve Hare or financial problems which lead to the sale of WNNN, It was the right offer and the owners(except Gloria) wanting to retire. Have a great and blessed day.
One side of me has no problem with a religious station airing local sports, as long as the commercials fit the station's standards. However, there is a problem with interrupting your format. You soon lose your core audience due to the "I never know what will be on" factor. And you never really pick up the new listeners you are supposedly trying to reach.

WVCH has played an Irish show on Saturdays for years. It does not fit the format, but it does not violate it either. It generates revenue for a generally unprofitable time slot and does no harm, thus no foul. And since it serves primarily Irish Catholics, it takes away one possible complaint against the station at license renewal time.

As someone who produced religious programs over the years for several preachers and stations, including WTUX, WVCH, WNNN, WASA and WDAC among others, I fully agree with Mike's point on airing programs of questionable quality. On yes, you are bringing in cash. But you are driving away listeners who might otherwise benefit from your format. The station and the format get the rep that only trashy people listen to religious stations because "just listen to the trashy sounding programs." Smaller market religious stations fought this reputation for years, since many stations, particularly in the South, would air any preacher who had enough money for air time, a Sears tape recorder, and "white box" tape (that was the no-name cheap stuff back in the reel-to-reel days). I worked with one preacher who was on my station, WTUX. He followed one of the "holler into the cheap mike" types. His show suffered since people tuned out because of the previous show. Thus, you lose potential cash providing responsible preachers because of airing the trash.

The WDAC program director would personally listen to each tape before it was allowed to air. He would play it at double speed to check for quality and content. You can tell both at that speed. I've done it. Those folks, as responsible broadcasters, made sure all programs met the station's standards. And they had strict standards. But that is what a responsible broadcaster does. To say "if they pay, they play" is totally irresponsible to broadcasting in general and religious broadcasting in particular. Any owner who does that is helping to destroy both the format and the message.
WTUX, I couldn't have said it better, thanks

I only wish that WDAC would put a translator here so I could hear it at work. That is a great station.
Greetings from Tulsa!

Wanted to catch up on what's going on out there...after almost forty years away from Jersey and 27 in Tulsa I'm considering moving back to the Mid Atlantic region...trying to catch up on the radio scene since it's radio I'd want there. Interesting reading about CCM...and Salem, NJ! WJIC was my first station in '68..worked with people like Gloria Jennings, Tom Cahill, John Prince, Wayne Griscom, Sid Charlap, Ira Mellman, and others. Imagine my dismay when I went to see the place three years ago...found the building abandoned and grass three feet high! Is 1510 AM dark now?
No, the tower is still there in Salem, but the studio has been moved to downtown Wilmington, Delaware where the station, now WFAI 1510 plays urban gospel music.
I enjoyed WJIC back in the 70's. It was one of those "little engines that could" stations back when an AM daytimer could get an audience and communities were proud to have thier own station, even if it was an AM daytimer. They listened and their businesses advertised.
Re: Yet Another CCM Station in Dela/ some fact corrections : )

I realize that no one has replied to this post for quite sometime but I must say, being the daughter of Gloria Jennings, I have to say, my mother was not in it for the just for the money. she was also not pushed out when Tony Q bought the stations, she retired because she was 75 years old. She stayed so long because she enjoyed it. She loved people. You either loved her or hated her but one thing is for sure, if you met her, you could never forget her. ;) My father was still alive when the radio station was purchased. She also had her own talk show "Tell it like it is". That is exactly what she did.
The new station will operate at 88.7 from a tower south of Harrington. The studios will be the old WXPZ studios, which they will lease from DBC. DBC transmitter for WNCL 101.3 is located their, but the studios are together with WAFL and WYUS.
The problem I have with most CCM stations is that they play only for the youngest CCM listener. They are a Top 40 CCM station, playing nothing older than maybe 5 years ago. There are many great CCM Gold or CCM Greatest Hits songs from the 70's through 2000 that never see the light of day. It would sure be a blessing to me and probably many other CCM listeners and would cause me to tune in, if the rotations had some of the older CCM stuff. Unfortunately, most markets, at least here in the North East generally have only 1 CCM station in their market (the Bible Belt areas might be different). They narrowcast, because the young people might not listen if you play something that's more than a week old, so the typical CCM station is as boring as their "secular" counter parts. All bland vanilla sound music. At least with secular radio, there is generally more than one rock/pop/greatest hits/oldies/classic rock stations available so you have some choices. Basically the choice for Christian radio is: Top 40 CCM, Hymn based, Dollar a Hollar preachers, or secular radio.

It would be interesting to find out the age of the donors to Christian radio stations. My guess is, they are older than 12-25, yet the more mature demos get totally ignored. I'm just not that desperate to listen to CCM radio that I'll only listen to just the Top 40 CCM hits that are out.

When I did a CCM show on WNNN-FM on Saturdays and Sundays (back in the 1980's) I used the normal rotation, but added a mixture of the older CCM songs from WNNN's extensive record library (I was the only DJ there, other than the PD, who was old enough to know how to cue up a record thus the only other DJ who had access to all that wonderful music) to make for what I had hoped was a more inspirational listening experience. I'd get calls from folks who were so blessed to hear those CCM Gold or CCM Greatest Hit songs. Sort of CCM Oh WOW songs. So it is my hope that the new 88.1 will not be just another CCM station in Delaware. In any case, I'll ask for the Lord's blessings on your station and that many will be reached for Christ through this new ministry.
Mike said:
WXHL needs a shake up they sound stale

It'll never happen. Steve Hare's talons are too deeply entrenched to
allow anyone else to really take control over the presentation.

Sounds the same now as it did in 2000, just with newer songs.
I used to listen to Starrock on WNNN every Sat. with Alan Wenzel. It was one of the most creative & professional shows I have ever heard. It ministered, was funny, and played what no one else did. I am sorry to hear that it is no longer on.
I agree that most stations are very stale, only playing the newest stuff. We get KLOVE & Air1 over the air here in KY, two of the biggies and they don't play old or unusual stuff. I prefer to listen to WJTL.com out of Lancaster PA. It plays oldies as well as new stuff. Saturday nites it plays even the oldest CCM from the late 70's.
Alan's show used to air right after my show. It was quite a segway as I used Dino's "Pass It On" as a closing theme as I ended my show with Dino's piano and Ralph Carmichael's Orchestra in the background as I gave a final devotional thought as I signed off from my 6 hour show (we had rather long air shifts). As those final notes of Dino's piano would fade Alan kicked it up with something lively from a group like White Heart. The kids all knew, it was time to ROCK !

He brought in his own CD's, if I remember correctly. His show was popular with the younger audience and definitely was "cutting edge". As you might image, not so popular with the "older" audience. I give Mrs. Jennings a lot of credit for allowing Alan to do a show on WNNN as it did reach the teen/college audience with unique CCM music you couldn't hear anywhere else. My guess isthat Gloria had to field numerous complaints from some of the "frozen chosen" about Alan's show, but she stood by his show and allowed his show to minister to an audience that probably didn't listen to the rest of WNNN's programming, which was probably why she did have Alan do his show to reach that under served group for Christ.
The tower is south of Harrington, and the studios are at the old Lite FM site off of RT 36. The CCM format will be done right.
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