Out of Ashes: New Adventist
Radio Station Rises
Southwestern University to debut new format, reach Dallas/Ft. Worth area
BY GLEN P. ROBINSON, communication professor, Southwestern Adventist University
Less than a year after a lightning strike and fire took it temporarily off the air, the radio station of Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas, is back, with a new name, a new manager, and a new format.
The “spark,” so to speak, for this action began on the evening of September 3, 2009, when lightning struck the building housing the station, causing a fire and significant damage to equipment and the structure. The station’s then-manager, Randy Yates, discovered the fire and called for help.
“We felt we were at a turning point after the fire,” said Eric Anderson, Southwestern Adventist president. “We were faced with a choice of making a significant improvement to the station or getting out of radio. Fortunately, the board voted to improve the station.”
As part of that action, Mike Agee was invited to come and serve as the station’s new general manager. Agee has 32 years of radio experience, including 20 years as manager of KTSY-FM, a Seventh-day Adventist Church-owned radio station in Boise, Idaho. During his time at KTSY, the station won three Dove awards, was a top-10 station in its market, and consistently ran first or second in reaching the demographic of women ages 25-52.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Mike Agee (left), new general manager of KJRN “The Journey” 88.3, helps with the construction of the new radio station at Southwestern Adventist University. [SWAU photo]
Southwestern’s radio station went on the air for the first time in 1974 as KSUC under the management of Bob Mendenhall, a SWAU professor who now chairs the school’s Communications Department. In 1984, the station changed its call letters to KJCR. Succeeding general managers were Glen Robinson (1998-2004) and Randy Yates (2004-2010). The station has been off the air since early May while the building has undergone major renovation and construction. The new station, with new call letters KJRN, came back on the air in early August. Agee chose the call letters and the slogan “The Journey” to signal a new beginning for the station.
According to Agee, the operative word for the new station is outreach. “It’s not about us,” Agee says. “We have a very specific audience in mind. And we intend to meet their needs.” According to Anderson, the new station’s outreach will “focus on worship.”
Agee believes faithful listeners to the old KJCR will realize everything has changed when they turn on 88.3 The Journey: “They will immediately hear music that the typical Christian listener will recognize. We will be running the station in a professional manner, with professional equipment and production on a professional level. We will do audience research and voice track shifts. It will be much more valuable as an instructive tool. When students graduate, they will find our station is indistinguishable from stations where they will be looking for a job.”
“Our goal,” Agee added, “is to succeed in the fifth largest radio market in the United States.” Agee is confident that “within a couple of years,” 88.3 The Journey will become widely known throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, about 60 miles northeast of the university.
“My job is to teach students the process of working in radio,” said Agee. In addition to his management responsibilities, Agee will teach a class on broadcasting management.