What REALLY happened to WCIE????
The sad sequence of events:
- The Telecommunications Act of 1996 passes and is signed into law. It relaxes the law on ownership of multiple radio stations in a
single market, making it possible for monopolies to form. The Free Radio Network
has some choice words about this act, and how it limits diversity in radio markets. Guess what - they are right!!!!
- Paxson Communications - owner of several secular stations in area, offers $25 million to Moody Bible Insitute for WKES 101.5 (just to get the frequency).
- Moody decides to sell WKES.
- Moody looks for another station to buy in the non-commercial part of the dial (88-92). These stations are bargains - they offer lots
of power and coverage for very little money. Unfortunately, they target WCIE.
- Carpenter's Home Church and Evangel Christian school sell WCIE to Moody for $5 million.
- WCIE starts to simulcast WKES.
- Carpenter's Home Church and Evangel Christian school buy 1570 AM - and formats it southern gospel.
- Paxson Communications sells all of its radio holdings, including the pending sale of WKES, to
Clear Channel Communications, Inc.
- WCIE's call letters are changed to WKES.
- The old WKES on 101.5 becomes WILV - a secular station in July of 1997. The new format is love songs.
- WILV changes its call letters to WFJO after a year, and the new format is "Jammin' Oldies". It is now owned by Cox Communications, Inc.
Some of the above facts are condensed from an article on 8-9-96 in the St. Petersburg Times, and confirmed by a spokesmen for the
Moody network and Carpenter's Home Church.
Behind the scenes, there is more to the story than the facts above. Here are some interesting tidbits and opinions:
- WKES probably would not have sold out if WCIE was not already available.
- WCIE was available because the Carpenter's Home Church was in serious financial trouble. Their financial trouble was the object of a lot of negative publicity in the Tampa Bay area press, which
caused their attendance to dwindle. It was a case of "sell the station or go bankrupt". There was a danger that 91.1 could have ended up secular. It is probably preferable that it stayed
Christian, and Carpenter's Home Church stayed open. I have the names of the people involved, but will not post them here. Let's just say that the persons responsible for this situation should have
been immediately removed from the ministry, no matter WHO they were!
- WCIE had been pledged over a million dollars for their operational budget the year they were sold. Naturally, the people who did not agree with the format change immediately terminated their
monthly pledge - and rightfully so. The pledges were made to support the budget of WCIE, and not to Moody Bible Institute. I am personally bothered, however, that those making yearly "one time
gifts" were not immediately refunded a prorated amount of their pledge. Those pledges were made in good faith by people who fully expected the station to remain the same format. When the station
changed format, that "good faith agreement" was broken. I have no idea who pocketed the money. But the Lord does! And He is NOT PLEASED.
- WKES had format control over 101.5 for one year after they sold. Unfortunately, the lyrics of the "love songs" were filled with lust.
- To be fair to WKES, I have been told that they do have some local content, although much of the programming is satellite.
- It is too bad that the Moody network does not program to young people, or meet their spiritual needs. Otherwise, there would not have been such a strong reaction on the part of the audience to
the change. They do not play CCM or Christian rock, and therefore young people do not listen. I don't listen to them either, for the same reason. They only have one show per week that programs to
young people - a talk show on Saturday night. The vast majority of WCIE's former audience feels betrayed by Carpenter's Home Church and Moody Bible Institute.
- I have received more than one comment from ex-WCIE listeners that they had problems with one or more staff members, and therefore were not really that upset with the change. Unless I can confirm
those problems with more than one source, I don't care to comment on specifics. I understand that a couple of you feel really hurt over one or another incidents. That would not have happened if I
had personally been in charge of WCIE. I am familiar with the industry, however, and offer this thought: please realize that the realities of radio sometimes dictate actions that seem heartless to
the individual listener. The control room atmosphere is one of intense pressure and borderline chaos at all times. The needs of an individual listener may get stepped on from time to time, due to
time constraints, format constraints, laws that the listener might not be aware of, or any number of other reasons. WCIE probably cared more about you than your average mainstream station - which
sometimes ridicules callers on purpose for the entertainment of their audience.