There is no more LIFE at 91

I moved to Florida in 1990 to take a job near Daytona Beach. I was aware of the benefits of listening to Christian music as opposed to secular music, so I checked the radio dial for a station. I found nothing to listen to in Daytona Beach, but there was a faint signal on 91.1 from Lakeland. Through static and deplorable reception conditions, I continued to be a loyal listener and supporter of the station, and was blessed. In a few months, I moved to another on the west side of Daytona Beach, and had better reception. During those times in the early morning and late evening when the reception was better, WCIE was a dependable companion, ministering to my spirit through hard times I was going through.

The Lord used the ministry of WCIE to reach me, and deepen my spiritual life. I was called by the Lord to help improve the dismal radio situation in Daytona Beach by sponsoring and eventually producing a show locally. This radio program evolved into a tool to train young announcers how to do Christian radio, and do it right. When the owners of Christian stations across the country finally wake up to fact that nobody cares for worship music or preaching, they will need to have a supply of young, enthusiastic announcers ready to work for them.

In time, we began to make trips to Lakeland to attend concerts sponsored by WCIE. The Carpenter's Home church is very impressive, and a perfect location for those concerts. We primarily took youth from the church, and then eventually teenage friends, and our radio show announcing staff. I thank Rick Thomas and all of the WCIE staff for extending us professional courtesy on numerous occasions, allowing us to use WCIE facilities and equipment to call in live reports from concerts.

I always looked at the Carpenter's Home church with envy, wishing I had a church in Daytona Beach that was as large and dynamic - but also one that had the vision to reach young people through a ministry like WCIE. We began to attend special functions at the Carpenter's home church - such as the Gospel According to Scrooge - sometimes a Sunday morning service. It was a long 110 mile drive, sometimes dangerous. On numerous occasions Orlando traffic threw a life threatening situation our way - a car crossing the median and coming straight for us, or a wreck inches from us. Still, it was worth the drive, and God protected us and those we brought with us.

I visited the WCIE studios often on my concert visits, earning the trust of the staff to the point that they allowed me to use their facilities to phone in live reports of the concerts back to my show, which was live on the air in Daytona Beach. The WCIE studios were located above the vast CHC atrium, on the second (balcony floor). After entering, you went down a long hallway, which was lined with CCM memorabilia that they had collected over the years. It was somewhat akin to the collection of rock music memorabilia at Hard Rock Cafe's. It was obvious from the importance of the items that WCIE had a prominent place in the industry - many artists donating gold records and personal items to add to their collection.

At the end of the hallway was a circular hallway, which surrounded the main circular WCIE control room. It was state of the art at that time in every way. It was just before the era of music being programmed from computer workstations and hard drives. WCIE's music collection was on CD's, which were housed in special plastic cases that never allowed human hands to touch the surface of the CD. When I compared the pristine quality of their CD's to some of the ones at WAPN where I did my show, I can see the wisdom of their method. I remember one scratched Margaret Becker CD in particular - some of the other shows at WAPN were really careless, and the homebrew furniture used at WAPN allowed a CD to be inserted by mistake into a scratchy opening BELOW the player. I wish I had a dime for every CD I plunked in there without intending to - when I got in too much of a hurry! Eventually someone would fish them out. The only downside to WCIE's enclosed CD system was the total absence of CD liner notes. I often wondered how they knew where each track was on the CD!

The main WCIE studios were arranged in a "C" shape, allowing all on-air production equipment to be at easy arm's reach. The music collection was hanging on the wall behind the announcers - hundreds of CD's in those special cases. The outside of the "C" arrangement had benches and microphones for in-studio guests such as visiting artists. Directly in front of the DJ, on the outside wall of the circular studio, was housed the racks of equipment in the audio chain and the microwave transmitter to the remote antenna site. I remember that the equipment was state of the art, and any visitor getting too close to the equipment was watched with a wary eye!

On the outside of the circular hallway around the main studio, more memorabilia was hanging on the wall. The hall was lined with offices and production rooms. I did my remotes from a production studio on that hallway. Even the production studio had equipment that WAPN would love to have had. Production studios usually get the leftovers from the main studio, but WCIE had brand new, first rate production equipment, and my remotes sounded GREAT!

I never visited the WCIE antenna site, but the new owners of WCIE - Moody broadcasting, did an article that appeared in Radio World magazine 2 years later. Apparently, the 500 foot tower in Plant City was badly corroded and in danger of falling. All I can think of is that WCIE did not maintain the tower properly, or possibly WCIE did not care about the old tower, knowing that they were planning to build a new one, 9 miles closer to Orlando.

On August 1st, 1996, WCIE went dark. The last song played on WCIE was "Jesus Freak" by DC Talk.

At the WCIE studios, upstairs, above the fountain - the receptionist desk is now vacant, the phone never rings. The receptionist, I think her name was Adele - is now out of a job. Her kind voice directing callers to needed behind the scenes ministry is no longer required.

The corridor leading to the central studio and the circular corridor surrounding the central studio is dark - the awards from WCIE's shining legacy of ministry to young people gathering dust. There will be no more gold records donated from artists, no more autographed pictures, no more concerts.

The offices are empty, the DJ's out of a job. Award winning talent scattered to stations around the country. The main studio is deserted. No more good guys - no more K-Mac, no more Saturday night meltdown, no more Club 91. The fader on the "satellite" input is turned up, the expensive, high quaility sound board, CD players, live assist automation, production facilites --- all idle. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment - no longer used for the kingdom of God to produce state of the art radio. The excellent collection of CD's - stored away - unplayed. The young people who could have been reached by them - listening to blasphemy and profanity on mainstream stations.

And Mia - who could forget Mia? I bet she was really Adele --- but real or not, her spirit haunts the station. Who will listen to her sportscasts now??? She represented what was good about the station - an original sense of good fun - and innocence.

Somewhere - out past the orbit of the farthest planets in our solar system, a 20 year stream of good Christian music is heading into space, ready to bless the inhabitants of some distant world. But WCIE has gone dark, probably never to be heard over the air again.

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