As Back to God Ministries International celebrates 75 years of telling God’s story this December, we remember the radio stations that have partnered with us over the decades to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
One of those partners is also celebrating a significant anniversary: This month, December 2014, WMPC 1230AM in Lapeer, MI turns 88 years old.
At 88 years, WMPC is the longest continuously operating Christian radio station in the United States.
WMPC broadcast its first message of hope on December 6, 1926 over a homemade four-tube, 5-50 watt transmitter powered by a storage battery and a series of “B” batteries (yes, they existed). The original antenna included bicycle rims in the design.
“Rev. Frank Hemingway, who built the transmitter and antenna at the church he pastored, thought radio would be a great way to share the Gospel, especially to shut-ins,” says station manager, Ed LeVoir. “He purchased a book titled The Complete Radio Handbook from an encyclopedia salesman and got started.” Throughout its long history, the station has had just four managers. Rev. Hemingway managed the station from 1926 until his death in 1964.
As partners in the Gospel, BTGMI and WMPC go way back...but nobody knows just how far back they go. LeVoir even check with Arnold Bracy, the station’s second manager. Bracy only recalls that the station carried The Back to God Hour well before his tenure as manager began in 1965.
Today, the station airs two programs each week produced by ReFrame Media: Groundwork, (the successor to The Back to God Hour) a half hour Bible teaching discussion, and Kids Corner, a zany radio adventure for children that helps them see the big picture of God's Word.
As one might imagine, 88 years of broadcasting Christ’s message of hope has borne immense fruit. There are countless testimonies of people meeting Jesus through the station’s work. There’s the wife who started going to church when a song on WMPC caught her ear. Soon she trusted Christ as her Savior. Then there’s her husband who would drive her to church each week, but wouldn’t go in—yet, he too met Jesus listening to the service broadcast in his car! And more recently: A homeless teen responded to a pamphlet from a WMPC volunteer, started attending a Bible study, gave his life to Christ, and went home to his parents.
In the course of its history, WMPC has faced numerous obstacles and threats to its continued operation. The station has overcome attempts to take over its frequency, weathered denominational politics that jeopardized the station’s local programming and control, and survived the crippling staffing issues brought on by the outbreak of World War II. Over and over again, God answered prayer and provided for each exigency at just the right moment to keep the station working.
Back in 1926, while Rev. Hemingway was building the new station, a neighbor asked what type of programming would the station offer. Hemingway responded that there would be scripture reading, Bible teaching, and Gospel music. “You’re going to run out of material,” the neighbor quipped, “and won’t be around very long.”
Well, 88 years later—after decades of bearing fruit for God’s Kingdom, persevering through countless challenges, and becoming a local institution, as well as a veritable case study for continuously changing radio technologies—WMPC is still in no danger of running out of material. God’s Word is a deep well for radio content that will never run dry.
Thanks to faithful support of Back to God Ministries and ReFrame Media, we are able to provide great programs to partner with this oldest Christian radio station in the United States!