LEWISBURG – A quarter-century has passed since WGRC signed on the air.
Today, the Lewisburg radio station continues to minister to 17 counties in central Pennsylvania over eight transmitters through playing Christian music while delivering news, sports and informational programming.
Founders Larry and Janet Weidman retired from the station at the end of last year but recently spoke about its growth.
Janet said that “Christian contemporary music was just on the cutting edge, a new sound, a new format,” when WGRC began. “What we saw was the opportunity to bring this kind of music to our area and we did that in such a way the entire family can listen together.
“We’ve had lots of opportunities to meet kids who were youngsters, teens in the late ’80s, early ’90s, who are now parents themselves. Hearing their stories about how much our station has meant to our whole entire family is just a joy,” Janet continued.
One of the programs WGRC produces is “Get Real,” aimed at teenagers, which started in 2006 and is run by morning show co-host Dave Jones.
“We hope that moms and dads and youth leaders are also listening – we intend it to be a discussion starter,” Jones said.
Morning show announcer Don Casteline says that “the better you know your listener, the better your playlist is. We try to be very real. Over the history of radio, people have created personas, and we want people to know we are who we are on air.”
Station events such as the monthly skate fellowship at Sunset Rink, in Shamokin Dam; the annual Day at Knoebel’s, taking place this Aug. 9 with headliner Chris August; and the youth talent competition, help staff stay in touch with listeners.
Even in Georgia, where the Weidmans retired to, they stay in touch by listening online – a service that began in 1997.
“When we signed the station on the air, who would have ever thought we’d be streaming our signal online and streaming it around the world,” Larry said.
“We’ve had listeners from a lot of different continents, some with a central Pennsylvania tie,” Casteline said. “We had our first Internet-only listener contributor, a gentleman from Ireland, recently.”
People from all walks of life tell WGRC of the impact the station has had in their lives, Casteline says.
“We have a lot of correctional institutions in our broadcast area – we’ve heard from inmates on a regular basis who say it’s their church. A few financially support the station, with the little bit they make.”
Divine serendipity sometimes comes into play at WGRC, said afternoon host Bruce Matthews.
“There are times a song plays accidentally, it’s a song you played an hour ago, and someone calls and says that song touched me.”
The Weidmans started Son and Light Media Ministries in 1984 with the “express purpose of starting a contemporary Christian radio station,” Larry said. It took some patience to get on the air – after filing their first paperwork with the Federal Communications Commission in June 1985, they weren’t issued a construction permit until August 1987.
As the station enters its second quarter-century, its mission remains the same – putting on a ministry that brings people together in Christ, Janet said.
“Our programming certainly has a purpose and that purpose is clearly to let people know there is hope in life, there is healing for life’s deepest hurt, there is forgiveness for wrongdoings and sins, and all of that is available through one person, the person of Jesus Christ, who is the central focus of all we have done over the years. God has provided very faithfully for this ministry from the get-go.”